THE SPOOKS APPRENTICE EPUB
Spook's Destiny (Wardstone Chronicles). Home · Spook's Destiny DOWNLOAD EPUB The Spook's Apprentice: Book One (The Wardstone Chronicles). The Spook's Destiny Wardstone 7 – The Spook's Nightmare The Last Apprentice Complete Collection: Revenge of the Witch, Curse of the Bane, Night of the. Wardstone Chronicles / Last Apprentice has 58 entries in the series. Joseph Delaney Author (). cover image of The Spook's Apprentice.
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1 The spooks I am grimalkin · 2 The spooks apprentice 8 The spooks nightmare · 9 The spooks sacrifice 11 The spooks slither tale · favorite. The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney. 'You, apprentice to a spook! How can you do a job like that when you still can't sleep without a candle?' I laughed at his joke but he had a point. I sometimes saw .
With an OverDrive account, you can save your favorite libraries for at-a-glance information about availability. Find out more about OverDrive accounts. The Spook's Apprentice is the first book in Joseph Delaney's terrifying Wardstone Chronicles — over 3 million copies sold worldwide! And you're the only one who can ' For years, the local Spook has been keeping the County safe from evil. Now his time is coming to an end, but who will take over? Many apprentices have tried. Some floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive.
The other one, that closest to me, was closed. Something about that closed door made me uneasy but I decided to take a quick look. Nervously I gripped the handle and tugged at the door. It was hard to shift and for a moment I had a creepy feeling that somebody was holding it closed on the other side. When I tugged even harder, it opened with a jerk, making me lose my balance. I staggered back a couple of steps and almost dropped the candle. Stone steps led down into the darkness; they were black with coal dust.
I closed the door quickly and went back into the front room, closing the kitchen door too. I put the candle down carefully in the corner furthest away from the door and window. The flags were hard and cold but I closed my eyes. Usually I get to sleep easily but this was different. I kept shivering with cold and the wind was beginning to rattle the windowpanes. There were also rustlings and patterings coming from the walls. Just mice, I kept telling myself.
We were certainly used to them on the farm. But then, suddenly, there came a disturbing new sound from down below in the depths of the dark cellar. At first it was faint, making me strain my ears, but gradually it grew until I was in no doubt about what I could hear. Someone was digging rhythmically, turning heavy earth with a sharp metal spade. First came the grind of the metal edge striking a stony surface, followed by a soft, squelching, sucking sound as the spade pushed deep into heavy clay and tore it free from the earth.
This went on for several minutes until the noise stopped as suddenly as it had begun. All was quiet. Even the mice stopped their pattering.
It was as if the house and everything in it were holding their breath. I know I was. The silence ended with a resounding thump. Then a whole series of thumps, definite in rhythm. Thumps that were getting louder. And louder. And closer Someone was climbing the stairs from the cellar. I snatched up the candle and shrank into the furthest corner.
Thump, thump, nearer and nearer, came the sound of heavy boots. Who could have been digging down there in the darkness? Who could be climbing the stairs now? Maybe it was a question of what I heard the cellar door open and the thump of boots in the kitchen. I pressed myself back into the corner, trying to make myself small, waiting for the kitchen door to open. And open it did, very slowly, with a loud creak. Something stepped into the room.
I felt coldness then. Real coldness. I lifted the candle, its flame flickering eerie shadows which danced up the walls and onto the ceiling. There was no answer. Even the wind outside had fallen silent. Again no reply, but invisible boots grated on the flags as they stepped towards me. Nearer and nearer they came, and now I could hear breathing. Something big was breathing heavily.
It sounded like a huge carthorse that had just pulled a heavy load up a steep hill. At the very last moment the footsteps veered away from me and halted close to the window. I was holding my breath and the thing by the window seemed to be breathing for both of us, drawing great gulps of air into its lungs as if it could never get enough. Just when I could stand it no longer, it gave a huge sigh that sounded weary and sad at the same time, and the invisible boots grated on the flags once more, heavy steps that moved away from the window, back towards the door.
When they began to thump their way down the cellar steps, I was finally able to breathe again. My heart began to slow, my hands stopped shaking and gradually I calmed down. I had to pull myself together. It went with the job. After about five minutes or so I began to feel better. It was faint and distant at first - someone knocking on a door. There was a pause, and then it happened again. Three distinct raps, but a little nearer this time.
Another pause and three more raps. Somebody was rapping hard on each door in the street, moving nearer and nearer to number thirteen. When they finally came to the haunted house, the three raps on the front door were loud enough to wake the dead.
Would the thing in the cellar climb the steps to answer that summons? I felt trapped between the two: And then, suddenly, it was all right. A voice called to me from the other side of the front door, a voice I recognized. Open the door! Let me in! I was so glad to hear her that I rushed to the front door without thinking. Remembering what the Spook had said, I took a deep breath and tried to think. Why would she have followed me all this way?
How would she have known where we were going? My dad or Jack would have come with her. No, it was a something else waiting outside. Something without hands that could still rap on the door. Something without feet that could still stand on the pavement.
The knocking started to get louder. Mam was strong. Mam never cried no matter how bad things got. After a few moments the sounds faded and stopped altogether. I lay down on the floor and tried to sleep again. The wind began to rattle the windowpanes even louder, and on every hour and half hour the church clock chimed, moving me closer to midnight.
The nearer the time came for me to go down the cellar steps, the more nervous I became. And then, just after the clock had given a single chime - half past eleven - the digging began again Once more I heard the slow thump, thump of heavy boots coming up the steps from the cellar; once more the door opened and the invisible boots stepped into the front room.
By now the only bit of me that was moving was my heart, which pounded so hard it seemed about to break my ribs. They kept coming.
Coming straight towards me. I felt myself being lifted roughly by the hair and skin at the nape of my neck, just like a mother cat carries her kittens. Then an invisible arm wrapped itself around my body, pinning my arms to my sides. I tried to suck in a breath but it was impossible.
My chest was being crushed. I was being carried towards the cellar door. I was going to be carried down the cellar steps into the darkness and I knew that a grave was waiting for me down there.
I was going to be buried alive. I was terrified and tried to cry out, but it was worse than just being held in a tight grip. Suddenly I was falling I found myself on all fours, staring at the open door to the cellar, just inches from the top step. In a panic, my heart thumping too fast to count the beats, I lurched to my feet and slammed the cellar door shut. The candle had gone out As I walked towards the window, a sudden flash of light illuminated the room, followed by a loud crash of thunder almost directly overhead.
Rain squalled against the house, rattling the windows and making the front door creak and groan as if something were trying to get in.
I stared out miserably for a few minutes, watching the flashes of lightning. It was a bad night, but even though lightning scared me, I would have given anything to be out there walking the streets; anything to have avoided going down into that cellar.
In the distance the church clock began to chime. I counted the chimes and there were exactly twelve. Now I had to face what was in the cellar. It was then, as lightning lit the room again, that I noticed the large footprints on the floor. Back to the cellar. Down into the dark where I had to go! Forcing myself forward, I searched the floor with my hand for the stub of the candle. Then I scrabbled around for my small bundle of clothes. Wrapped in the centre of it was the tinderbox that Dad had given me.
Fumbling in the dark, I shook the small pile of tinder out onto the floor and used the stone and metal to strike up sparks. I kindled that little pile of wood until it burst into flame, just long enough to light the candle. Little had Dad known that his gift would prove so useful so soon. As I opened the cellar door there was another flash of lightning and a sudden crash of thunder that shook the whole house and rumbled down the steps ahead of me. I descended into the cellar, my hand trembling and the candle stub dancing till strange shadows flickered against the wall.
I imagined my shame at having to tell Mam what had happened. Eight steps and I was turning the corner so that the cellar was in view. Small pieces of coal and large wooden crates were scattered across the earthen floor and there was an old wooden table next to a big beer barrel.
I stepped around the beer barrel and noticed something in the far corner. Something just behind some crates that scared me so much I almost dropped the candle. It was a dark shape, almost like a bundle of rags, and it was making a noise. A faint, rhythmical sound, like breathing.
I took a step towards the rags; then another, using all my willpower to make my legs move. It was then, as I got so close that I could have touched it, that the thing suddenly grew.
From a shadow on the floor it reared up before me until it was three or four times bigger. I almost ran. It was tall, dark, hooded and terrifying, with green, glittering eyes. Only then did I notice the staff that it was holding in its left hand. Something used to climb up out of the cellar. It would have been the same for you. Am I right? The Spook shook his head sadly.
He spent his days and nights coughing and struggling for breath and his poor wife kept them both. She worked in a bakery, but sadly for both of them, she was a very pretty woman.
One evening she was very late home from work and he kept going to the window, pacing backwards and forwards, getting more and more angry because he thought she was with another man.
Then he left her there, dying on the flags, and went down into the cellar to dig a grave. She knew what he was going to do. I even felt sorry for the Spook. Imagine having to spend your childhood in a house like this. It looked as if it was gradually changing, as if he was growing a snout or something. I woke everybody up, and in a rage my father lifted me up by the scruff of my neck and carried me down the steps into this cellar. Then he got a hammer and nailed the door shut behind me.
Probably seven at the most. I climbed back up the steps and, screaming fit to burst, scratched and banged at the door. But my father was a hard man and he left me all alone in the dark and I had to stay there for hours, until long after dawn.
After a bit, I calmed down and do you know what I did then? His eyes were glittering very brightly and he looked more like a wolf than ever. Then I took three deep breaths and I faced my fear. I faced the darkness itself, which is the most terrifying thing of all, especially for people like us, because things come to us in the dark.
They seek us out with whispers and take shapes that only our eyes can see. But I did it, and when I left this cellar the worst was over. Can you stand it? Are you fit to be my apprentice? I imagined him on all fours, wolf hair covering his face, his teeth growing longer.
Only then did I give him my answer. It was something my dad always said when he had to do something unpleasant or difficult. It was short and to the point and it was written in Greek. Your mother sent it. Do you know what it said?
His name is Thomas J. Train him well. Above all, v? Do you understand? As the Spook closed the front door, I noticed for the first time what had been carved there in the wood. The Spook nodded towards it. The cross on the lower right is the Roman numeral for ten, which is the lowest grading of all. Anything after six is just a ghast. Remember, the dark feeds on fear. We left the village and continued south.
Right on its edge, where the cobbled street became a muddy lane, there was a small church. It looked neglected - there were slates missing off the roof and paint peeling from the main door. His hair was white and it was lank, greasy and unkempt. His dark clothes marked him out as a priest, but as we approached him, it was the expression on his face that really drew my attention. He was scowling at us, his face all twisted up.
And then, dramatically, he made a huge sign of the cross, actually standing on tiptoe as he began it, stretching the forefinger of his right hand as high into the sky as he could. An anger that seemed directed towards us.
Spook's Destiny (Wardstone Chronicles)
So I just followed him south, carrying his heavy bag and thinking about what my mam had written in the letter. She was never one to boast or make wild statements. Usually she just got on with things and did what was necessary. But I knew there was something else that made me different. As we walked, the last of the morning clouds melted away and I suddenly realized that there was something different about the sun.
The Spook must have been thinking almost exactly the same thoughts because he suddenly halted in his tracks, looked at me sideways and gave me one of his rare smiles. Did he always go to Chipenden on the first day of the spring, and if so, why? So I asked him. We winter on the edge of Anglezarke Moor and spend the summer in Chipenden.
We lived there until my father moved us to Horshaw. Without further delay we changed direction, heading north-east towards the distant hills. They always looked to me like huge sleeping beasts, but that was probably the fault of one of my uncles, who used to tell me tales like that. At night, he said, they started to move, and by dawn whole villages had sometimes disappeared from the face of the earth, crushed into dust beneath their weight.
The wind was getting up as well, tugging at our clothes as we gradually began to climb and hurling birds all over the sky, the clouds racing each other east to hide the summits of the fells. So it was late in the day when we approached Chipenden, the light already beginning to fail. By then, although it was still very windy, the sky had cleared and the purple fells were sharp against the skyline.
There were names such as Parlick Pike, which was the nearest to Chipenden; others - some visible, some hidden and distant - were called Mellor Knoll, Saddle Fell and Wolf Fell. When I asked my master if there were any wolves on Wolf Fell he smiled grimly. I like to keep my distance from the folk who live there. They prefer it that way too. It was a lonely life. You ended up working by yourself. There were a few stunted trees on each bank, clinging to the hillside against the force of the wind, but then suddenly, directly ahead was a wood of sycamore and ash; as we entered, the wind died away to just a distant sigh.
It was just a large collection of trees, a few hundred or so maybe, that offered shelter from the buffeting wind, but after a few moments I realized it was more than that. Far above, I could hear the distant breath of the wind, but within the wood the only sounds to be heard were our boots. Everything was very still, a whole wood full of trees that were so silent it made a shiver run up and down my spine.
It almost made me think that they were listening to us. Then we came out into a clearing, and directly ahead was a house. It was surrounded by a tall hawthorn hedge so that just its upper storey and the roof were visible.
From the chimney rose a line of white smoke. Straight up into the air it went, undisturbed until, just above the trees, the wind chased it away to the east. The house and garden, I noticed then, were sitting in a hollow in the hillside.
It was just as if an obliging giant had come along and scooped away the ground with his hand. I followed the Spook along the hedge until we reached a metal gate. The gate was small, no taller than my waist, and it had been painted a bright green, a job that had been completed so recently that I wondered if the paint had dried properly and whether the Spook would get it on his hand, which was already reaching towards the latch.
Suddenly something happened that made me catch my breath. Before the Spook touched the latch, it lifted up on its own and the gate swung slowly open as if moved by an invisible hand. Comes in quite useful in our line of work. There was a steep staircase to the right and a narrow flagged passage on the left.
I like my food piping hot! Herbs were growing in big pots on the wide window ledge and the setting sun was dappling the room with leaf-shadows.
In the far corner a huge fire was blazing, filling the room with warmth, and right at the centre of the flagged floor was a large oaken table. On it were two enormous empty plates and, at its centre, five serving dishes piled high with food next to a jug filled to the brim with hot, steaming gravy. I helped myself to large slices of chicken and beef, hardly leaving enough room on my plate for the mound of roasted potatoes and vegetables that followed.
Finally I topped it off with a gravy so tasty that only my mam could have done better. I was full of questions but I was also tired, so I saved all my energy for eating. I nodded, almost too full to speak.
I felt sleepy. Wondering who could have moved them, I climbed the stairs to bed. This new room had space for a bed, a small table with a candle, a chair and a dresser, but there was still lots of room to walk about in as well.
And there, on top of the dresser, my bundle of belongings was waiting. The bed was pushed right up along the wall beneath it, so I pulled off my boots, kneeled up on the quilt and tried to open the window. Although it was a bit stiff, it proved easier than it had looked.
I used the sash cord to raise the bottom half of the window in a series of jerks, just far enough to pop my head out and have a better look around. I could see a wide lawn below me, divided into two by a path of white pebbles that disappeared into the trees. Above the tree line to the right were the fells, the nearest one so close that I felt I could almost reach out and touch it. I sucked in a deep breath of cool fresh air and smelled the grass before pulling my head back inside and unwrapping my small bundle of belongings.
As I was closing it, I suddenly noticed the writing on the far wall, in the shadows opposite the foot of the bed.
It was covered in names, all scrawled in black ink on the bare plaster. Should I add my own name or wait until the end of the first month, when I might be taken on permanently? For a few moments I wondered what Billy was doing now, but I was tired and ready for sleep.
The sheets were clean and the bed inviting, so wasting no more time I undressed, and the very moment my head touched the pillow I fell asleep. When I next opened my eyes, the sun was streaming through the window. I thought it was probably the breakfast bell. I felt worried then. Had it really been the bell downstairs summoning me to breakfast or a bell in my dream? How could I be sure? What was I supposed to do? So, deciding that I probably had heard the bell, I dressed and went downstairs right away.
On my way down I heard a clatter of pots and pans coming from the kitchen, but the moment I eased open the door, everything became deathly silent. I made a mistake then. In fact the kitchen was chilly and, worse than that, it seemed to be growing colder by the second. My mistake was in taking a step towards the table. No sooner had I done that than I heard something make a sound right behind me. It was an angry sound. There was no doubt about that. It was a definite hiss of anger and it was very close to my left ear.
So close that I felt the breath of it.
The Spook had warned me not to come down early and I suddenly felt that I was in real danger. As soon as I had entertained that thought something hit me very hard on the back of the head; I staggered towards the door, almost losing my balance and falling headlong. I ran from the room and up the stairs.
Then, halfway up, I froze. There was someone standing at the top. Someone tall and menacing, silhouetted against the light from the door of my room. I halted, unsure which way to go until I was reassured by a familiar voice. It was the Spook. He was wearing a black tunic and grey breeches and I could see that, although he was a tall man with broad shoulders, the rest of his body was thin, probably because some days all he got was a nibble of cheese. He was like the very best farm labourers when they get older.
Some, of course, just get fatter, but the majority - like the ones my dad sometimes hires for the harvest now that most of my brothers have left home - are thin, with tough, wiry bodies. Let that be a lesson to you, lad. Next time it might be far worse. Some never learn that. We walked east, squinting into the early morning sun, until we reached a wide lawn. There were gaps in it, and directly ahead was the wood. The path of white pebbles divided the lawn and vanished into the trees.
The Spook's Apprentice: Book One (The Wardstone Chronicles) - PDF Free Download
The grass was longer at the edge of the lawn and it was dotted with bluebells. I like bluebells because they flower in spring and always remind me that the long, hot days of summer are not too far away, but now I hardly gave them a second glance. The morning sun was hidden by the trees and the air had suddenly got much cooler. It reminded me of my visit to the kitchen. There was something strange and dangerous about this part of the wood, and it seemed to be getting steadily colder the further we advanced into the trees.
They were about as musical as my dad, who used to start singing as we got to the end of the milking. If the milk ever went sour my mam used to blame it on him. The Spook halted and pointed to the ground about five paces ahead. The grass had been cleared and at the centre of the large patch of bare earth was a gravestone. It was vertical but leaning slightly to the left. On the ground before it, six feet of soil was edged with smaller stones, which was unusual.
But there was something else even more strange: I counted them twice just to be sure. What is it? Got it first time. Notice anything unusual? So I just nodded. He smiled and patted me on the shoulder. They buried her on unhallowed ground outside a churchyard not too many miles from here. But she kept scratching her way to the surface. It makes people feel better. That way they can get on with their lives in peace. My heart was hammering away in my chest, threatening to break out any minute, and I was trembling from head to foot.
What could be worse? I wondered, but I knew he was going to tell me anyway. Just keep well away after dark. All witches are different but some are really stubborn. Still bound to her bones, a witch like that tries hard to get back into the world. Human babies sometimes have the same trouble. So stay well away. Let me hear you say it There are worse things than getting your ears boxed.
Far worse. Still, he had other things to show me so I was spared more of his scary words. He led me out of the wood and strode towards another lawn. He halted about ten paces short of a large stone which lay flat on the ground, close to the roots of an oak tree. It covered an area a bit larger than a grave, and judging by the part that was above ground, the stone was very thick too.
I tried to appear confident. Iron usually does the trick. But the thing under there could slip through iron bars in the twinkling of an eye. Look closely at the stone.
I nodded. Bottom right is the Roman numeral for one. As I mentioned, we use grades from one to ten. Remember that - one day it might save your life.
The Spook's Apprentice
A grade one could easily kill you. Cost me a fortune to have that stone brought here but it was worth every penny. The Spook smiled. A small fire had been made up in the grate and two plates of bacon and eggs were on the table. There was a freshly baked loaf too and a large pat of butter. Then the Spook leaned back in his chair, tugged at his beard and asked me an important question. The breakfast had been well cooked. It was only when we were outside that the grin finally faded.
Gets them every time. It was a surprise, to say the least. Who would have credited that he had one cooking and cleaning for him? I felt the difference right away. The birds were singing and the trees were swaying slightly in the morning breeze. It was a happier place. We kept walking until we came out of the trees onto a hillside with a view of the fells to our right.
In fact the view extended right to the summits of the nearest fell. The Spook gestured towards a wooden bench to our left. I did as I was told and sat down. For a few moments the Spook stared down at me, his green eyes locked upon mine. Then he began to pace up and down in front of the bench without speaking. He was no longer looking at me, but stared into space with a vacant expression in his eyes. He thrust back his long black cloak and put his hands in his breeches pockets then, very suddenly, he sat down beside me and asked questions.
You see, there are as many different types of boggart as there are types of people and each one has a personality of its own. Having said that, though, there are some types that can be recognized and given a name. Sometimes on account of the shape they take and sometimes because of their behaviour and the tricks they get up to. Then he handed it to me. It was a bit of a disappointment to open it and find it full of blank pages. The Spook had already begun the lesson and he was talking very fast.
Most are dogs but there are almost as many cats and the odd goat or two. And whatever their shape, hairy boggarts can be divided up into those which are hostile, friendly or somewhere between. Then, to make things worse, witches are a real problem in the County. And remember, not all witches are the same. They fall into four rough categories - the malevolent, the benign, the falsely accused and the unaware.
However, just then he paused. I think he must have noticed the dazed expression on my face. Or "benign" either. Otherwise look out! I had a mother once and I trusted her, so I remember the feeling well.
Do you like girls? So watch out for the village girls. Especially any who wear pointy shoes. Jot that down. Still, what choice did I have? He watched me write, then asked for the book and pen. Just write anything you learn today under one of those four headings. But now for something more urgent. We need provisions. Remember that everything goes inside my sack.
The butcher has it, so go there first. Soon I was walking through trees again, until at last I reached a stile that brought me onto a steep, narrow lane. There were at least a hundred cottages, then a pub, a schoolhouse and a big church with a bell tower.
There was no sign of a market square, but the cobbled main street, which sloped quite steeply, was full of women with loaded baskets scurrying in and out of shops. He seemed to know every single one of them by name and they kept laughing loudly at his jokes, which came thick and fast.
Nobody paid me much attention, but at last I reached the counter and it was my turn to be served. The butcher reached behind the counter and pulled out a large sack. When I glanced behind, they were looking everywhere but at me. Some were even staring down at the floor. I gave the butcher the silver coin, checked my change carefully, thanked him and carried the sack out of the shop, swinging it up onto my shoulder when I reached the street.
The provisions there were already wrapped so I put the parcel in the sack, which was now starting to feel a bit heavy.
There were seven or eight of them sitting on a garden wall. When I came out of the shop they were still there and now, as I began to climb the hill, they started to follow me. Six brothers had given me plenty of practice at fighting. I heard the sound of their boots getting closer and closer. They were catching up with me pretty quickly but maybe that was because I was walking slower and slower. They caught up with me about a dozen paces before the stile, just at the point where the lane divided a small wood, the trees crowding in on either side to shut out the morning sun.
It was a loud, deep voice accustomed to telling people what to do. There was a hard edge of danger that told me its owner liked to cause pain and was always looking out for his next victim. I turned to face him but gripped the sack even tighter, keeping it firmly on my shoulder. After all, some of the boys looked half starved and there were a lot of apples and cakes in the sack.
At that moment something happened that took us all by surprise. There was a movement in the trees somewhere to my right and we all turned towards it. There was a dark shape in the shadows, and as my eyes adjusted to the gloom, I saw that it was a girl. She was moving slowly towards us, but her approach was so silent that you could have heard a pin drop and so smooth that she seemed to be floating rather than walking.
It seemed like a question but the tone in her voice told me it was a command. Ever listened to a clock when the next tick seems to take for ever to follow the last tock? Well, it was just like that until, very suddenly, the girl hissed loudly through her clenched teeth.
Then she spoke again. Be gone, be quick or be dead! They were terrified and close to panic. Their leader turned on his heels and immediately fled down the hill with the others close behind him. I felt like a mouse paralysed by the stare of a stoat about to pounce at any moment. I knew the words would come out wrong. She was probably about my own age - if anything slightly younger.
Her face was nice enough, for she had large brown eyes, high cheekbones and long black hair. She wore a black dress tied tightly at the waist with a piece of white string. But as I took all this in, I suddenly noticed something that troubled me. But I stood my ground, determined not to run like the others. A cake and an apple will do for now. Back where I came from, most people shivered even at the thought that the Spook might be in the neighbourhood.
I thought at one point that she was going to hiss at me through her teeth. I stared back at her, trying not to blink, until at last a faint smile lit up her face and she spoke again. Whoever she was, her name had been enough to scare the village lads. That was the end of our conversation. When I got back, the Spook checked the contents of the sack carefully, ticking things off from a list. I always order extra in case they ask for some.
The Spook raised his eyebrows. A spook depends a lot on that because it can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Whether or not your instincts can be relied on. Still, I knew he really meant had I met any girls and I knew I should have told him about her. Especially with her wearing pointy shoes. I made lots of mistakes as an apprentice and that was my second serious one - not telling the Spook the whole truth.
The first, even more serious one was making the promise to Alice. The Spook taught me fast and made me write until my wrist ached and my eyes stung. It was a gloomy spot and there, hanging from a branch, was a rope.
I looked up and saw a big brass bell. They come down here and ring that bell. Then we go to them. I always went to bed tired and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. It started on a warm, sunny morning, when the Spook told me to put away my notebook and led the way towards his southern garden. He gave me two things to carry: It can be the result of a storm or maybe even an earthquake. Then boggarts get stuck in the same place for years and we call them "naturally bound".
Not unless you happen to get too close to one. Sometimes, though, they can be stuck in awkward places, close to a house or even inside one. Then you might need to move the boggart from there and artificially bind it elsewhere. Health was better, lives were longer and everyone was happy and content. The old knowledge was unimportant. Keeping warm and eating was all that mattered. When the ice finally pulled back, the survivors were hunters dressed in animal skins.
Darkness was all-powerful. Leys are really lines of power far beneath the earth. Secret invisible roads that free boggarts can use to travel at great speed. Not being welcome makes them angry. They play tricks - sometimes dangerous tricks - and that means work for us. Then they need to be artificially bound in a pit. Even in the shade it was too warm to be digging and it took me hours and hours to get it right because the Spook was a perfectionist.
After digging the pit, I had to prepare a smelly mixture of salt, iron filings and a special sort of glue made from bones. It can end the mischief of troublesome boggarts. In fact salt and iron can be useful in lots of situations. It was like painting but harder work, and the coating had to be perfect in order to stop even the craftiest boggart from escaping.
He had me digging two practice pits a week, which was hard, sweaty work and took up a lot of my time. It was a bit scary too because I was working near pits that contained real boggarts, and even in daylight it was a creepy place. I noticed that the Spook never went too far away though, and he always seemed watchful and alert, telling me you could never take chances with boggarts even when they were bound. The trouble was that although the Spook said he had lots of maps upstairs in his library, it seemed I always had to do things the hard way, so he started me off by making me draw a map of my own.
At its centre was his house and gardens and it had to include the village and the nearest of the fells. The idea was that it would gradually get bigger to include more and more of the surrounding countryside. It was only then that he started to show me his own maps, but he made me spend more time carefully folding them up afterwards than actually studying them.
I also began to keep a diary. The Spook gave me another notebook for this, telling me for the umpteenth time that I needed to record the past so that I could learn from it. So I just shrugged. Would you like to do the same? The trouble was, the more I smiled the more miserable the Spook looked. I left for home within the hour. It was a terrible job. From what the Spook had told me, apart from the loneliness, it was dangerous and terrifying. Nobody really cared whether you lived or died. Well, next spring was a long time off, so what good was that?
Could I really put up with working there for the rest of my life? Next I started to think about what Mam would say. So the hardest part would be telling her and watching her reaction. So the next day I only stopped once, to bathe my feet in a stream, reaching home just before the evening milking. As I opened the gate to the yard, Dad was heading for the cow shed.
When he saw me, his face lit up with a broad smile. I offered to help with the milking so we could talk but he told me to go in right away and speak to my mam.
He seemed a little bit cool. Well, to be honest, he was more cold than cool. His face was sort of twisted up, as if he were trying to scowl and grin at the same time. Why else was he suddenly so unfriendly? The trouble with you is that you only think about yourself. Think of poor Dad. He loved that tinderbox. I knew he was wrong. Dad had wanted me to have the tinderbox, I was sure of it. It was a job neither of us liked much.
They were big, hairy, smelly pigs and always so hungry that it was never safe to turn your back on them. Despite what Jack had said, I was still glad to be home. As I crossed the yard I glanced up at the house. The back door was always jamming because the house had once been struck by lightning. The door had caught fire and had been replaced, but the frame was still slightly warped, so I had to push hard to force it open.
If the light was too bright, it hurt her eyes. Mam preferred winter to summer and night to day. I put on a brave face and pretended to be happy but she saw right through me. I could never hide anything from her. I shrugged and tried to smile, probably doing even worse than my brother at disguising my feelings. That was always a bad sign.
Nobody of my own age to talk to. There was a long pause before Mam spoke and I could hear Ellie sweeping up in the next room, singing softly to herself as she worked. In the meantime, stop complaining. Why should it be any different for you? Why does it have to be me? They walk a twisted path, taking money for accomplishing little. Some floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive. Just one boy is left. Thomas Ward. He is the last hope. But does he stand a chance against Mother Malkin, the most dangerous witch in the County?
Joseph Delaney used to be an English teacher, before becoming the best-selling author of the Spook's series, which has been published in 24 countries and has sold over a million copies. The first book, The Spook's Apprentice, is now a major motion We want your feedback! Click here. Fantasy Horror Young Adult Fiction.
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