The Spook's Sacrifice

The Spook's Sacrifice
The Spook's Sacrifice  
Spook Sacrifice Joseph Delaney.jpg
First edition cover
Author(s) Joseph Delaney
Country Great Britain
Language English
Series

The Wardstone Chronicles - UK

The Last Apprentice - America
Genre(s) Children's fiction
Publisher The Bodley Head, an imprint of Random House Children's Books
Publication date 25 August 2009 - UK
Pages 360
Preceded by The Spook's Mistake
Followed by The Spook's Nightmare

The Spook's Sacrifice is the sixth installment in the Wardstone Chronicles series by Joseph Delaney. Its release date is August 25, 2009. In the U.S. it is titled The Last Apprentice: Clash of the Demons.

The first 84 pages of the book and some of "The Journal of Thomas J. Ward" may be read at

http://browseinside.harpercollins.com/index.aspx?isbn13=9780061344626

Plot

After being attacked in the middle of the night by a maenad assassin (follower of the Old Goddess the Ordeen), Tom sets off back to his farm where his mam asks him to go with her back to Greece to fight Ordeen. The Ordeen is unique among the Old Gods in that she can come to this world without the need of human intervention. Previously when she arrived her power was held in check by priests who built monasteries on the cliffs surrounding plains of Megara. However with the Fiend loose in the world, the dark is better organised; so many vaengir (flying lamia witches) have been sent to the Ordeen to counter the power of the priests that few remain elsewhere. When the Ordeen appears this time, the priests will be overwhelmed and the Ordeen free to go where she pleases, which according to Mam will be the County to kill the children of her greatest enemy: Mam.

Tom is forced to choose between his master who forbids him to go because he would have to ally himself with the Pendle witches and his mam. He decides to do what his mam asks, setting off for the coast whilst the Spook heads back to Chipenden. Upset over having to chose between his Mam and the Spook, Tom nonetheless is firm in his decision to accompany his mother.

He is told Grimalkin wishes to speak with him, pointed towards a hill. As he walks there, he runs into Mab Mouldheel and her two sisters Beth and Jannet. She initially uses glamour on him, however he overcomes it by focusing on her less appealing characteristics. She tells Tom that she scryed Alice's death at the hands of a feral lamia, being dragged into its lair to have her blood sucked out. Not believing her, he continues on to meet Grimalkin who reminds him that she promised to give him something on Walpurgis Night following his fourteenth birthday. He had missed it however, his master refusing to let him go due to her nature as a malevolent witch. She gives him a dark wish, so named because no one can foresee how it will be used and a special knife capable of hurting denizens of the dark.

Tom then spends time with Alice, conversation initially awkward but soon turned friendly. She reveals she still has the blood jar, a jar that contains the blood of one of the Fiend's daughters. If mixed with Toms blood it could prevent the Fiend from coming near him. As Tom is all that stands between victory for the Fiend and his potential permanent death, he is eager to corrupt Tom, unable to directly use his vast power to kill Tom due to being hobbled (if he kills Tom, he will rule for only a century, if he turns Tom to the dark, he will rule forever or of Tom fails to stop him, he will rule, but it won't be fixed by fate, rather by his own tremendous dark powers).

Their party, joined by Bill Akwright board the ship, which is just leaving as the Spook comes running, leaping from the dock onto the deck of the ship. Despite his decision to join them, he still refuses to even talk to Tom, let alone continue his apprenticeship. Tom takes the time now available to him during the journey to practice with Bill Akwright the more physical aspects of Spook's work; sparring with staffs, made difficult by the constant rocking motions of the ship.

Slowly the Spook begins to acknowledge Tom ,until one day he tells him to get out his notebook and gives him a lesson on some of the dangers they will face.

During the journey, their ship is attacked by pirates. They are out gunned with only four cannons, however as the pirates seek to capture their ship rather than destroy it, they are repelled by the witches hiding from the sun in the main hold the moment they step aboard; their captain is the first to die upon landing on their deck. Tom notices that whilst Mab Mouldheel seemed to enjoy the killing of the pirates, Alice looked sick to her stomach.

Eventually they land in Greece, the presence of Sirens along previously safe coasts indicating just how much the power of the dark has grown there. Upon landing, they depart, Mam taking Tom to the house where she first took his dad after he saved her from death on the rock. It is here she reveals who she is to Tom; Lamia, mother of all lamia witches. She explains to Tom that she is not proud of her past actions and as tried to atone for her past deeds, his birth being the epitome of what she is trying to achieve.

They continue onto a prearranged meeting place with a number of mercenaries Mam has hired to protect their party from the maenads and lamia witches. Before they can be reached however, they are attacked by maenads and lamia witches; Mam having ordered Alice to protect Tom no matter what takes him somewhere safe so as to not risk his death whilst the two Spooks, Mam and the witches do their best to drive them off and make it to their meeting point.

Separated, Tom and Alice wander the many mountain passes until they realise they are lost. They decide to turn around and head back when two lamia witches appear, one in front and one behind. Whilst fending off the lamia in front, the one behind grabs Alice and begins to drag her down. He successfully drives of the front lamia, turning around just in time to see Alice's pointy shoes disappear. He uses his dark wish, wishing for Alice to be safe and unhurt. It seems as if nothing happens when Tom becomes aware time has stopped, the Fiend had appeared. He still appeared as the dead bargeman, pleased that Tom has finally used the dark. He disappears just as Alice crawls out of the hole, surprised to still be alive.

They set off, seeking to return to the group, but still lost. Eventually they become aware they are being followed, and seek the safety of a cave. They begin to hear knocks on the surrounding cave walls, still being followed. Running as fast as they can, the knocks become louder until it causes a cave-in, separating, if not killing, their would-be pursuers. Tom, but not Alice, is knocked unconscious. Eventually he comes to and they both follow the cave which leads through he mountain and eventually to the meeting point with the mercenaries. They meet up with the Spook who informs them that when all seemed lost, the mercenaries arrived and fought them off. He also told Tom and Alice they knocks they heard where made by Knockers, a dangerous type of boggart and they are both lucky to be alive. Mab Mouldheel sees Alice still alive and angrily accuses Tom of using the dark, hoping that with Alice out of the way, she could have him to herself.

Mam tells them the overall plan, which essentially focuses on several stages. During the first stage, the emissary of seven sent by the city of Megara will be replaced with members of their own party; Tom, Alice, Bill Akwright, the Spook and several mercenaries. Blood from the youngest will be offered (Tom) to awaken the Ordeen. Then, if the youngest wishes to live, a challenger (Grimalkin)must fight a champion of the Ordeen. Then Pendle witches will go through and clear the Ord (the fortress of the Ordeen) of the demons that arrive with her, creatures of the dark that look like beautiful men and women but possess terrible strength and cruelty. Then Mam will go with Mab Mouldheel (needing her considerable powers of foresight due to the Fiend clouding her own, in order to locate the Ordeen within the Ord) and face the Ordeen.

Before the arrival of the Ordeen, Mam takes Tom up to the monasteries of the priests, still doubtful that mere prayer is what kept the Ordeen confined to the plains to Megara. However upon meeting the head of their order and listening to their hymns, he begins to understand the power of faith in combating the dark.

The Ordeen soon after arrives, the Ord arriving in a huge pillar of fire. It is divided into three large towers and a central dome, the Ordeen residing in any of the said features of the building. When the fire dissipates, Mam's plan can begin to be put into action. Tom goes with the other members of the emissary, entering the Ord and confronted by a feast and a number of demons. Music begins and the mercenaries sit down and begin eating the feast, their captain previously on odds with the Spook regarding how effective fasting is when it comes to fighting the dark is amongst them. The demons attack the mercenaries, gorging themselves on blood. Tom must then give some blood which is then used to begin the process of waking the Ordeen. Grimalkin must then fight a giant man in armour, evading all attempts on his part to kill her before stabbing him through the visor of his helmet, racing through, killing all demons they encounter. Moving from room to room, the original emissary minus Grimalkin who ran off with the witches, encounter death demons everywhere they go.

Before long however they soon find the remnants of a dead witch; a fire elemental (followers of the Ordeen, they look like glowing red stars) had dropped down on her and burnt her to death. They soon find more and more dead witches until eventually they see one come running past screaming. The Spook grabs her and asks what happens. She tells him that it was a trap, they ran to the top of the tower and there were fire elementals everywhere; all the other witches she said were dead. Deciding to take a different route, they go up a different tower.

Tom, Alice, Bill Akwright and the Spook reach the top of another tower to find themselves in a pitch black room. All of a sudden Tom feels an iron hard grip on his ankle, dragging him to a metal dish which is then winched up. When high enough, Tom realises the surrounding walls are covered with vaengir; he is to be their meal. Again however he notices time has stopped and realises the Fiend is back. Still taking the appearance of the dead bargeman, he offers Tom a way out. He will free him and his companions and delay the awakening of the Ordeen for another hour in exchange for his soul in three days. Seeing no alternative, Tom agrees. His and his companions dish is lowered and they come to the conclusion that the towers are a trap; elementals in the first, vaengir in the second and who knows what in the third. Instead they head up to the dome, eventually hitting an invisible force field.

Because it was Tom's blood that was used, a part of him is in the Ordeen so he can pass through the barrier, leaving Alice and the Spooks as he does so. He meets up with Mab Mouldheel who tells him Mam is inside, currently changing her form. She was able to get there because Mam forced her way through barrier, though it took a great deal out of her. He goes in where the vision the Bane of Priestown gave him of his mother appearing as a lamia and wishing Tom not to look becomes true. She does not want Tom to see her like she is. She tells him she is changing into her final form, one that might be able to hold the Ordeen long enough for the Ord to fall into oblivion. Tom realises that this will mean she will go with it into oblivion. Mam tells him not to be sad as she has lived a long life. She tells him she has lived along life and will now achieve her ultimate goal. She is not however finished her transformation and needs Tom to stall the Ordeen when she first wakes, first with words, then with his skills as a Spooks apprentice.

Going into the room, the Ordeen awakes and becomes confused, feeling he should know Tom due to the blood that was used to wake her. Eventually she realises Tom is the son of Lamia, and attacks, but not before revealing that Tom can also stop the passage of time which explains how he grabbed the knife thrown at him out of mid-air. He fends her of for a short time, losing his chain, staff and knife. However before she can kill him, Mam arrives, swooping down to attack the Ordeen. Tom sees her clearly know, noticing her facial changes as her cheeks became more prominent and how her body is more like that of the vaengir. However unlike the vaengir which have insectoid wings, Mam's wings are bird like with white feathers. Holding down the Ordeen, she shouts at Tom to flee the Ord. As they do so they are chased by elemntals, Bill Akwright sacrificing himself by remaining in the Ord to hold them at bay.

Tom, Alice and the Spook go up and inform the priests what has happened before leaving. At almost midnight two days after he made his deal with the Fiend, Tom decides to slip away from the camp with Alice and the Spook believing that if the Fiend appeared around them they will vainly try to protect Tom and likely get killed in the process. He makes his way to the banks of a stream and waits for the Fiend to arrive. Before long he can hear footprints, then see water evaporate as if something hot was stepping through it. He then sees cloven footprints on his side of the bank, walking towards him before the Fiend reveals himself. In his previous encounters with Tom and had taken on the appearance of the dead bargeman, this time however he appeared like a huge, hairy creature with cloven feet, horns and a tail. Before however he can take his soul, Alice appears, waving the blood jar at him and shouting at him to leave. Furious, he does so, leaving Tom and Alice who from now on must remain together or else the Fiend will reappear and either take Tom's soul or kill Alice. Alice reveals when he was unconscious, she took some of his blood from a wound on his head the result of the rock that knocked him out.

The following day, the Spook gives Tom a letter, the first addressed to the Spook which the Spooks says is what convinced him to come and the second addressed to him. The first informs the Spook of her impending death and her desire to make two exceptions of his principles. The first is with Tom, begging him to continue his apprenticeship and the second with Alice. The letter tells the Spook she is the daughter of the Devil (something Tom had not told his master) and potentially the most powerful and malevolent witch ever. However he should not bind her to a pit for that as she could be just as powerful a servant of the light and vital in helping Tom fight the Fiend. The second letter addressed to Tom tells him that she had foreseen her death long ago and should not grieve. She says that she had been happiest when with his dad and her sons and that he should continue to work hard at his apprenticeship in order to one day hunt the dark rather than be hunted by it.

Despite the comfort of the letters, the last words of Mam to him, he still fears that due to her past sins she would not passover, instead be trapped in the Ord in oblivion. He continue on to the ship to return home, encountering around twenty surviving Pendle witches, Grimalkin leading them. The captain dealt with Tom in the absence of Mam, giving him also her cabin. Trying to sleep, it is then that he feels a presence that he can describe only as pure love, finally erasing any fears he had that his mother would not be able to move on.

He returns to Chipenden with Alice, unable to part lest the Fiend find one of them without the protection of the blood jar. He is preparing to go up to Pendle to retrieve the trunks Mam left to him currently guarded by Mam's 'sisters' (vaengir that sided with her against the dark )in Malkin tower.

Characters

Thomas Ward The seventh son of a seventh son, he is also the son of Lamia, meaning that along with his ability to see things other can't and being immune to some dark powers such as a witches long-sniffing, he also has inherited powers from his mother, one of which is the ability to slow down and stop time. He has a destiny to either save the world or damn it.

Alice Deane Revealed in the 5th book to be the daughter of Bony Lizzie and the Fiend, she is a firm friend of Tom; their friendship in fact keeping her from going over to the dark. According to Thomas' Mam, she could be the most powerful malevolent or benign witch ever.

John Gregory Also known as the Spook A seventh son of a seventh son, he has kept the forces of the dark at bay for many years in the County. He has trained many apprentices, though precious few are any good, Tom will be his last.

Thomas' Mam also known as Lamia A beautiful enchantress who fell in love and bore children to the Old God Zeus, she fell under the influence of the dark after Hera in a fit of rage killed all but one of her children. In revenge she killed so many young children the rivers of Greece where said to run red with blood and the air tremble with the cries of their parents. The Old Gods eventually cursed her as a result, giving her the lower body of a serpent, which she then used to strangle young men she had seduced. It was not until the kindness of Toms dad that she fully turned to the light, bearing him six sons in order to give birth to Tom. Despite her terrible crimes early in her life, she redeemed herself and therefore was able to move on after sacrificing herself to destroy the Ordeen.

Bill Arkwright A seventh son of a seventh son, he was one of the Spooks successful apprentices, acting as Spook up north in Caster. Following his death, his remaining bloodhound and his two puppies saw Tom as their new master, something Alice claims to have always known.

Grimalkin The assassin of the Malkin witch clan, she is a malevolent witch skilled with knives and scissors in combat. She nonetheless follows a strict code of honour, to the point where that when ordered to kill Tom, she regretted it as she would not be able to face him when he was at his prime, offering him a quick death (although he did survive). She has gained protection from the Fiend by bearing him a son. However her son was not a witch but an ordinary boy. The Fiend killed him, resulting in a grudge that has led to Grimalkin allying herself with the Tom on more than one occasion.

External links



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