The Spook's Apprentice: Book One (The Wardstone Chronicles). Home ยท The Spook's The Wardstone. More Information Size Report. DOWNLOAD PDF. The highest point in the County is marked by mystery. It is said that a man died there in a great storm, while binding a. The Spook's Apprentice: Book One (The Wardstone Chronicles). Read more The Spook's Curse: Book 2 (The Wardstone Chronicles). Read more.

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Series: The Wardstone Chronicles | The Last Apprentice The Dark Army by Joseph Delaney, Starblade Chronicles 2. Dark Assassin, The (The Starblade. Wardstone Chronicles / Last Apprentice has 58 entries in the series. Chronicles). By Joseph Delaney. To save The Spook's Curse: Book 2 (The Wardstone Chronicles) PDF, remember to refer to the web link under and save the.

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As they went back for their tools, I pushed through the hedge and weaved between the gravestones towards the old church. I pushed open the side door, which yielded with a groan and a creak.

The old priest was still in the same position, lying on his back near the altar. The woman was kneeling on the floor close to his head, crying. The only difference now was that the church was flooded with light. There were a hundred at least, clustered in groups of five or six. As I closed the door, a gust of wind blew into the church and the flames all flickered together. She looked up at me, her face running with tears.

At first the Spook, still too ill to leave his bed, had refused to let me go. But was I ready for this? There was a boggart to bind which, if done properly, should be pretty straightforward. But this job was a little different. There were complications. Why do they always have to meddle? What was he thinking of, trying to tackle a ripper? Let me get on with my business and other folks get on with theirs.

That was another nuisance because the doctor lived some distance away. His greasy, lank white hair was pulled back from his face and his eyes were rolling feverishly in his head.

She was his housekeeper, not even family and I remember thinking that he must have been really kind to her to make her get so upset. Nobody did. He was certainly a brave man.

Either brave or very stupid.

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Eventually it would have moved on and the priest, as often happens, would have taken the credit. But this was the most dangerous type of boggart we ever have to deal with.

There was a crack in the flagged floor, a zigzag crack that ran from the foot of the altar to about three paces beyond the priest. After splitting the floor, the boggart had caught the old priest by his foot and dragged his leg down into the ground almost as far as his knee.

Now, in the darkness below, it was sucking his blood, drawing the life from him very slowly. It was like a big fat leech, keeping its victim alive as long as possible to extend its own enjoyment. Whatever I did, it would be touch and go whether or not the priest survived. In any case, I had to bind the boggart. Now that it had drunk human blood it would no longer be content with ripping cattle. That was one advantage of working with people who had experience of the business: they provided the heavy equipment.

This was a strong bucket, made of wood, bound with metal hoops and large enough to deal with even a twelve-foot pit. He did this a little at a time and then, after each addition, began to stir it with a stout stick.

It soon became hard work as, very gradually, the mixture turned into a thick goo which became more and more difficult to mix. The end result would be a very strong glue, and the longer the rigger stirred, the more he began to sweat and gasp.

Iron is dangerous to a boggart because it can bleed away its strength, while the salt burns it. Once a boggart is in the pit, it will stay there because the underside of the stone and the sides of the pit are coated with the mixture, forcing it to make itself small and stay within the boundaries of the space inside. Of course, the problem is getting the boggart into the pit in the first place.

At last the rigger and I were both satisfied. The glue was ready. The rain had stopped and the air seemed very still. It was late September and the weather was changing for the worse.

We were going to have more than just rain soon, and the sudden, first, faint rumble of thunder from the west made me even more nervous. After about twenty minutes I heard the sound of hooves pounding in the distance.

Riding as though all the hounds of Hell were on his tail, the doctor came round the corner, his horse at full gallop, his cloak flying behind him. So I just nodded at him and he left his sweating horse munching at the long grass in front of the church and followed me round to the side door. I held it open out of respect so that he could go in first. His name was Sherdley and he was carrying a black leather bag. He put it down about six feet from his patient and, ignoring the housekeeper, who was still heaving with dry sobs, he began his examination.

I stood just behind him and to one side so that I had the best possible view. His right leg was thin, white and almost hairless but the left, the one gripped by the boggart, was red and swollen, bulging with purple veins that darkened the closer they were to the wide crack in the floor. The doctor shook his head and let out his breath very slowly.

Then he spoke to the housekeeper, his voice so low that I barely caught the words. Once outside, he leaned back against the wall and sighed. Even then, the shock could kill him outright. Having to move him straight afterwards makes it even worse. Sometimes the old ones are a lot tougher than you think. You can leave the rest to me. We would need it to support the weight of the stone and position it very precisely. Immediately, both men left what they were doing and followed me back towards the church.

Now another horse was waiting in the lane, the stone resting in the back of the cart.

Still, wasting no time, we brought the cart round the long way to the gate that led into the field. Once close to the tree, the mason slipped the hook into the ring in the centre of the stone and it was lifted off the cart. The mason had certainly fitted the ring correctly because the stone hung horizontally from the chain in perfect balance. It was lowered into a position about two paces from the edge of the pit.

Then the mason gave me the bad news. His youngest daughter was very ill with a fever, the one that had swept right through the County, confining the Spook to his bed. His wife was by her bedside and he had to get back right away. Then I turned back to the business in hand. Still, the rigger and mate were good at their job. All I had to do was keep calm and be careful not to make any silly mistakes. First I had to work fast and coat the sides of the pit with the glue; then, finally, the underside of the stone, just before it was lowered into position.

It was a careful process. And with the pit only being six feet deep rather than the regulation nine, I had to be extra careful.

The bad thing was that it was difficult to judge just how much to apply so that a thick enough outer coat was left on the soil. The Spook had told me that it was something that would come with experience. Now, I would have to do the job right myself. First time. Finally I climbed out of the pit and attended to its upper edge.

The top thirteen inches, the thickness of the stone, were longer and broader than the pit itself, so there was a ledge for the stone to rest on without leaving the slightest crack for the boggart to slip through. This needed very careful attention because it was where the stone made its seal with the ground. As I finished there was a flash of lightning and, seconds later, a heavy rumble of thunder.

The storm had moved almost directly overhead. I went back to the barn to get something important from my bag. Made out of metal, it was specially crafted for the job and had three small holes drilled at equal distances from each other, close to its rim.

I eased it out, polished it on my sleeve, then ran to the church to tell the doctor that we were ready. As I opened the door there was a strong smell of tar and, just left of the altar, a small fire was blazing. Over it, on a metal tripod, a pot bubbled and spat. Dr Sherdley was going to use the tar to stop the bleeding. Painting the stump with it would also prevent the rest of the leg from going bad afterwards. I smiled to myself when I saw where the doctor had got his wood from.

In any case he was now unconscious, breathing very deeply, and would stay that way for several hours until the effects of the potion wore off. From the crack in the floor came the noise of the boggart feeding. It was a nasty gulping, slurping sound as it continued to draw blood from the leg.

It was too preoccupied to realize that we were close by and about to bring its meal to an end. I just nodded at the doctor and he nodded back.

The housekeeper was still in the same position but her eyes were squeezed tight shut and she was muttering to herself. So, with a shiver, I knelt down beside the doctor. He shook his head. Go on, lad. Back to your own business. I can deal with this. Full of relief, I went back to the pit. Even before I reached it, a loud scream cut through the air followed by the sound of anguished weeping.

He was unconscious. It was the housekeeper. The rigger and his mate had already hoisted the stone aloft again and were busy wiping off the mud. Then, as they went back to the church to help the doctor, I dipped the brush into the last of the mixture and gave the underside of the stone a thorough coating. Behind him, moving much more slowly, came the rigger.

He was carrying the dish with the blood in it, being careful not to spill a single drop. The bait-dish was a very important piece of equipment. Fastened to a large ring at one end were three shorter chains, each ending in a small metal hook.

I slipped the three hooks into the three holes close to the rim of the dish. No, the skill was in freeing the three hooks. You had to be very careful to relax the chains so that the hooks dropped away from the dish without tipping it over and spilling the blood.

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Now it was just a question of waiting. As I said, rippers are some of the most dangerous boggarts of all because they feed on blood. The amputated leg was still jammed into the crack in the church floor and the boggart was busily slurping blood from it, but sucking very slowly so as to make it last. It just slurps and sucks, thinking of nothing else until it slowly realizes that less and less blood is reaching its mouth. It likes it very much. So it wants more of the same, and once it works out that the rest of the body has been separated from the leg, it goes after it.

It would have a good idea of the direction in which the priest was being taken. It would also realize that he was getting further and further away. Then it would be aware of something else. That more of what it needed was very close by.

It was the snare to lure the ripper into the trap. I looked up.

The mate was standing on the platform, one hand on the short chain, ready to start lowering the stone. The rigger was standing opposite me, his hand on the stone, ready to position it as it came down. Neither of them looked in the least bit afraid, not even nervous, and suddenly it felt good to be working with people like that.

People who knew what they were doing. It made me feel good. It made me feel a part of something. Quietly we waited for the boggart. After a few minutes I heard it coming. At first it sounded just like the wind whistling through the trees. But there was no wind. The air was perfectly still and, in a narrow band of starlight between the edge of the thundercloud and the horizon, the crescent moon was visible, adding its pale light to that cast by the lanterns.

So I had to warn them. It was coming across the graveyard fast, heading straight for the dish of blood inside the pit. Then I felt a movement of the air close to my face and the ripper went down into the pit. Even before he pulled it there came a sound from the pit.

This time it was loud and all three of us heard it. I glanced quickly at my companions and saw their eyes widen and mouths tighten with the fear of what was below us. The sound we heard was the boggart feeding from the dish. It was like the greedy lapping of some monstrous tongue, combined with the ravenous snuffling and snorting of a big carnivorous animal.

We had less than a minute or so before it finished it all. Then it would sense our blood. It was rogue now and we were all on the menu. The mate began to loosen the chain and the stone came down steadily.

I was adjusting one end, the rigger the other. The stone had jammed, trapping his fingers under its edge. Before they could lift it free, the boggart had bitten his fingers off and sucked his blood. The important thing was to get the stone into the pit first time - and, of course, to keep my fingers out of the way.

The rigger was in control, doing the job of the mason. At his signal, the chain halted when the stone was just a fraction of an inch clear.

He looked at me then, his face very stern, and raised his right eyebrow. I looked down and moved my end of the stone very slightly so that it seemed to be in perfect position. I checked again just to make sure, then nodded to the rigger, who signalled to his mate. A few turns of the short chain and the stone eased down into position first time, searing the boggart into the pit. A scream of anger came from the ripper and we all heard it. Then, as the thunder crashed and the lightning flashed directly overhead to illuminate the stone, I noticed, for the first time, what the mason had carved there and suddenly felt very proud.

The large Greek letter beta, crossed with a diagonal line, was the sign that a boggart had been laid under it. Below it, to the right, the Roman numeral for one meant that it was a dangerous boggart of the first rank. There were ten ranks in all and those from one to four could kill. Then, underneath, was my own name, Ward, which gave me the credit for what had been done. And it was a ripper at that! That done, he scratched at his beard and gave a great big sigh.

So you can have the rest of the day off. After all that excitement you need to get back into a steady routine. The Spook gave me a withering look until I dropped my eyes, feeling very uncomfortable. One day you might have to dig the pit yourself and do it fast in order to save a life. There was a six-foot post set up in the western garden and the idea was to cast the chain over it. There was a special way to use the chain. You coiled it over your left hand and cast it with a flick of your wrist so that it spun widdershins, falling in a left-handed spiral to enclose the post and tighten against it.

From a distance of eight feet I could now get the chain over the post nine times out of ten but, as usual, the Spook was grudging with his praise. In the afternoon the Spook allowed me into his library to work by myself, reading and making notes, but he only let me read certain books.

He was very strict about that. I was still in my first year, so boggarts were my main area of study. So, after reading my fill of boggarts, I went to the three long shelves near the window and chose one of the large leather-bound notebooks from the very top shelf. They were diaries, some of them written by spooks hundreds of years ago. Each one covered a period of about five years. This time I knew exactly what I was looking for.

Anyway, I picked a few pages at random and started to read. As he was always telling me, it was important to write everything down and so learn from the past. That made me feel a lot better. And then I came to something that lifted my spirits even further. That was the best I could find to cheer me up: clearly the Spook had been a good, hard-working apprentice.

A lot of what I found was routine so I skipped through the pages quickly until I reached the point when my master became a spook, working on his own. I flipped back to the start of the entry just to make sure, and this is what I read.My own name, Thomas J.

The silence went on for quite a while. All witches are different but some are really stubborn. Perhaps the same one that made the meals. Mother Malkin. The thought of it reaching into my mind was terrifying. Women make it very nervous and it tries to avoid their company.