The spooks battle book 4, p.1

The Spook's Battle: Book 4, page 1

 

The Spook's Battle: Book 4


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The Spook's Battle: Book 4


  Table Of Contents

  Cover

  Copyright

  Praise for The Wardstone Chronicles

  Also by Joseph Delaney

  Dedication

  The Spook's Battle

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  This eBook is copyright material and must not be

  copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased,

  licensed or publicly performed or used in any way

  except as specifically permitted in writing by the

  publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions

  under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by

  applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution

  or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the

  author's and publisher's rights and those responsible

  may be liable in law accordingly.

  ISBN 9781407048260

  Version 1.0

  www.randomhouse.co.uk

  THE SPOOK'S BATTLE

  A RED FOX BOOK 978 0 099 49516 1

  First published in Great Britain by The Bodley Head, an imprint of Random House Children's Books

  A Random House Group Company

  The Bodley Head edition published 2007

  Red Fox edition published 2008

  1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

  Copyright © Joseph Delaney, 2007

  Illustrations copyright © David Wyatt, 2007

  The right of Joseph Delaney to be identified as the author of this work has been

  asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

  This electronic book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

  The Random House Group Limited supports The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the leading intemational forest certification organisation. All our titles that are printed on Greenpeace approved FSC certified paper carry the FSC logo. Our paper procurement policy can be found at: www.rbooks.co.uk/environment.

  Red Fox Books are published by Random House Children's Books,

  61-63 Uxbridge Road, London W5 5SA,

  www.kidsatrandomhouse.co.uk

  www.rbooks.co.uk

  Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found at:

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  THE RANDOM HOUSE GROUP Limited Reg. No. 954009

  A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

  Printed in the UK by CPI Bookmarque, Croydon, CRo4TD

  Praise for The Wardstone Chronicles:

  '...ideal for the reader who has outgrown Harry Potter.

  Be wamed, these books are seriously scary... Beautifully

  produced and consistently surprising the weird and wonderful

  Wardstone Chronicles are an annual treat‘

  THE TIMES

  Teenage readers looking instead for total fantasy should

  hasten to Joseph Delaney's The Spook's Apprentice’

  INDEPENDENT

  ‘Super scary! Rated four bookworms out of five!‘

  KRAZE CLUB

  ‘Wicked and fast—paced' The Good Book Guide

  ‘A sequel that will be greeted eagerly by fans of

  The Spook's Apprentice’ TES

  'The Wardstone Chronicles remain one of the strongest ongoing

  series of the moment‘ WRITE AWAY!

  Thrilling tale‘ CAROUSEL

  ‘A great read for all fantasy fans‘ TBK MAGAZINE

  www.rbooks.co.uk

  Also by Joseph Delaney

  THE WARDSTONE CHRONICLES

  BOOK ONE: THE SPOOK'S APPRENTICE

  BOOK TWO: THE SPOOK'S CURSE

  BOOK THREE: THE SPOOK'S SECRET

  BOOK FOUR: THE SPOOK'S BATTLE

  BOOK FIVE: THE SPOOK'S MISTAKE

  For Marie

  THE HIGHEST POINT IN THE COUNTY

  IS MARKED BY MYSTERY.

  IT IS SAID THAT A MAN DIED THERE IN A

  GREAT STORM. WHILE BINDING AN EVIL

  THAT THREATENED THE WHOLE WORLD.

  THEN THE ICE CAME AGAIN, AND WHEN IT

  RETREATED. EVEN THE SHAPES OF THE

  HILLS AND THE NAMES OF THE TOWNS

  IN THE VALLEYS WERE CHANGED.

  NOW. AT THAT HIGHEST POINT ON

  THE FELLS. NO TRACE REMAINS OF WHAT

  WAS DONE SO LONG AGO.

  BUT ITS NAME HAS ENDURED.

  THEY CALL IT –

  THE WARDSTONE.

  The Spook's Battle

  Joseph Delaney

  Illustrated by David Wyatt

  Chapter 1

  The witch was chasing me I through the dark wood, getting nearer and nearer by the second.I ran fast, frantic to escape, weaving desperately, with branches whipping into my face and brambles ; clutching at my weary legs. The breath rasped harshly in my throat as I drove myself harder and harder toward the edge of the wood. Beyond that lay the slope leading up to the Spook's western garden. If only I could reach that refuge, I'd be safe!I wasn't defenseless. In my right hand I gripped my rowan staff, which was particularly effective against witches; in my left was my silver chain, coiled about my wrist, ready for throwing. But would I get even half a chance to use either? For the chain I needed a gap between us, but already the witch was close at my heels.

  Suddenly the footsteps behind me ceased. Had she given up? I ran on, the waning moon now visible through the leaf canopy above, silver-dappling the ground at my feet. The trees were thinning. I'd almost reached the edge of the wood.Then, just as I passed the last tree, she appeared from nowhere and ran at me from the left, her teeth gleaming in the moonlight, her arms outstretched as if ready to claw out my eyes. Still running, veering away, I flicked my left wrist and cracked the chain to send it hurtling toward her. For a moment I thought I had her, but she swerved suddenly and the chain fell harmlessly onto the grass. The next moment she thudded into me, knocking the staff from my hand.I hit the ground so hard that all the breath was driven from my body, and in an instant she was on me, her weight bearing down on me. I struggled for a moment, but I was -winded and exhausted and she was very strong. She sat on my chest and pinned my arms down on either side of my head. Then she leaned forward so that our faces were almost touching, and her hair was like a black shroud touching my cheeks and blotting out the stars. Her breath was on my face, but it -wasn't rank like that of a blood or bone witch. It was sweet like spring flowers."Got you now, Tom, I have!" Alice exclaimed triumphantly.

  "Ain't good enough, that. You'll need to do better in Pendle!"With that, she gave a laugh and rolled off me, and I sat up, still fighting for breath. After a few moments I found the strength to -walk across and collect my staff and silver chain. Although she was the niece of a witch, Alice was my friend and had saved me more than once during the past year. Tonight I'd been practi
cing my survival skills, Alice playing the part of a witch seeking my life. I should have been grateful, but I felt annoyed. It was the third night in a row that she'd gotten the better of me.As I started to walk up the slope toward the Spook's western garden, Alice ran to my side and matched me step for step."No need to sulk, Tom!" she said softly. "It's a nice mild summer's night. Let's make the best of it while we can. Be on our travels soon, we will, and we'll both be wishing we were back here."Alice was right. I'd be fourteen at the beginning of August, and I'd been the Spook's apprentice for more than a year now. Although we'd faced many serious dangers together, something even worse was looming.

  For some time the Spook had been hearing reports that the threat from the Pendle witches was growing; he'd told me that we'd soon be traveling there to try and deal with it. But there were dozens of witches and maybe hundreds of their supporters, and I couldn't see how we could triumph against such odds. After all, there were only three of us: the Spook, Alice, and me."I'm not sulking," I said."Yes, you are. Your chin's almost touching the grass."We walked on in silence until we entered the garden and saw the Spook's house through the trees."Ain't said anything yet about when we're off to Pendle, has he?" Alice asked."Not a thing.""Haven't you asked? Don't find nothing out without asking!""'Course I've asked him," I told Alice. "He just taps the side of his nose and tells me that I'll find out in good time. My guess is that he's waiting for something, but I don't know what.""Well, I just wish he'd get on with it. The waiting's making me nervous.""Really?" I said. "I'm in no rush to leave, and I didn't think you'd want to go back there." "I don't. It's a bad place, Pendle, and it's a big place, too --a whole district with villages and hamlets and big, ugly Pendle Hill right at its center. I've got a lot of evil family there I'd sooner forget about. But if we've got to go, I'd like to get it over and done with. I can hardly sleep at night now -worrying about it."

  When we entered the kitchen, the Spook was sitting at the table writing in his notebook, a candle flickering at his side. He glanced up but didn't say anything because he was too busy concentrating. We sat ourselves down on two stools, which we drew close to the hearth. As it was summer, the fire was small, but it still sent a comforting warm glow up into our faces.At last my master snapped his notebook shut and looked up. "Who won tonight?" he asked."Alice," I said, hanging my head."That's three nights in a row the girl's gotten the better of you, lad. You're going to have to do better than that. A lot better. First thing in the morning, before breakfast, I'll see you in the western garden. It's extra practice for you."7I groaned inside. In the garden was a wooden post which was used as a target. If the practice didn't go well, my master would keep me at it for a long time and breakfast would be delayed.I set off for the garden just after dawn, but the Spook was already there, waiting for me."Well, lad, what kept you?" he chided. "Doesn't take that long to rub the sleep out of your eyes!"I still felt tired, but I tried my best to smile and look bright and alert. Then, with my silver chain coiled over my left hand, I took careful aim at the post.Soon I was feeling a lot better. For the one hundredth time since starting, I flicked my wrist and the chain cracked sharply as it unfurled, soaring through the air and glittering brightly in the morning sunshine to fall in a perfect widdershins spiral about the practice post.

  Until a week earlier, the best I'd been able to achieve from eight feet was an average of nine successful throws out of ten attempts. But now, suddenly, the long months of practice had finally paid off. When the chain was coiled about the post for the hundredth time that morning, I hadn't missed even once!I tried not to smile, I really did, but the sides of my mouth began to twitch upward, and within moments a wide grin split my face. I saw the Spook shaking his head, but try as I might, I couldn't get the grin under control."Don't get above yourself, lad!" he warned, striding toward me through the grass. "I hope you're not getting complacent. Pride comes before a fall, as many have found to their cost. And as I've often told you before, a witch won't stand still while you make your throw! From what the girl told me about last night, you've a long way to go yet. Right, let's try some throws on the run!"For the next hour I was made to cast at the post while on the move. Sometimes sprinting, sometimes jogging, running toward it, away from it, casting forward, obliquely or back over my shoulder, I did it all, working hard but growing hungrier by the minute. I missed the post lots of times, but I also had a few spectacular successes. The Spook was finally satisfied, and we moved on to something he'd only introduced me to a few weeks earlier.He handed me his staff and led me to the dead tree we used for target practice. I pressed the lever to release the hidden blade in the staff and then spent the next fifteen minutes or so treating the rotten trunk as if it were an enemy threatening my life. Time and time again I drove the blade into it until my arms grew heavy and tired. The most recent trick my master had taught me was to hold the staff casually in my right hand before quickly transferring it to my stronger left and stabbing it hard into the tree. There was a knack to it. You sort of flicked it from one hand to the other.When I showed signs of weariness, the Spook clicked his tongue. "Come on, lad, let's see you do it again. One day it might just save your life!"This time I did it almost perfectly: the Spook nodded and led us back through the trees for a hard-earned breakfast.

  Ten minutes later Alice had joined us and the three of us were seated at the large oak table in the kitchen, tucking into a big breakfast of ham and eggs cooked by the Spook's pet boggart. The boggart had lots of jobs to do around the house in Chipenden: cooking, making the fires, and washing the pots, as well as guarding the house and gardens. It wasn't a bad cook, but it sometimes reacted to what was happening in the house, and if it was feeling angry or moody, then you could expect an unappetizing meal. Well, the boggart was certainly in a good mood that morning, because I remember thinking it was one of the best breakfasts it had ever cooked.We ate in silence, but as I was mopping up the last bit of yellow yolk with a large slice of buttered bread, the Spook pushed back his chair and stood up. He paced backward and forward across the flags in front of the hearth, then came to a halt facing the table and stared straight at me."I'm expecting a visitor later today, lad," he said. "We've a lot to discuss, so once he's arrived and you've met him, I'd like time to talk to him in private. I think it's about time you went home, back to your brother's farm, to collect those trunks that your mam left you. I think it's best to bring them back here to Chipenden, where you can search through them thoroughly. We may well find things in there that'll prove useful on our trip to Pendle. We're going to need all the help we can get."My dad had died last winter and left the farm to Jack, my eldest brother.

  But after Dad's death we'd discovered something very unusual in his will.Mam had a special room in our home farm. It was just under the attic, and she always kept it locked. This room had been left to me, together with the trunks and boxes it contained, and the will stated that I could go there any time I wanted. This had upset my brother Jack and his wife, Ellie. My job as an apprentice to the Spook worried them. They feared that I might bring something from the dark back to the house. Not that I blamed them; that was exactly what had happened the previous spring, and all their lives had been in danger.But it was Mam's wish that I inherit the room and its contents, and before she went away she'd made sure that both Ellie and Jack accepted the situation. She'd returned to her own land, Greece, to fight the rising power of the dark there. It made me sad to think that I might never see her again, and I suppose that's why I'd kept putting off going to look in the trunks. Although I was curious to find out what they contained, I couldn't face the thought of seeing the farmhouse again, empty of both Mam and Dad."Yes, I'll do that," I told my master. "But who's your visitor?""A friend of mine," said the Spook. "He's lived in Pendle for years, and he'll be invaluable in helping with what we need to do there."I was astonished. My master kept his distance from people, and because he dealt with ghosts, ghasts, boggarts and witches, they certainly kept their distance from him! I'd never imagined for a moment that he kn
ew somebody whom he regarded as a friend!"Close your mouth, lad, or you'll start collecting flies!" he said. "Oh, and you'll be taking young Alice with you. I'll have lots of things to discuss, and I'd like both of you out from under my feet.""But Jack won't want a visit from Alice as well," I protested.It wasn't that I didn't want Alice to come with me. I'd be glad of her company on the journey. It was just that Jack and Alice didn't exactly get on. He knew that she was the niece of a witch, and he didn't want her near his family."Use your initiative, lad. Once you've hired a horse and cart, she can wait outside the farm boundary while you load up the trunks. And I'll expect you back here as soon as possible.

 
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