The Wardstone Chronicles
Book No: 05 of 13
As danger increases in the County, Tom is sent north by his master to be trained by Bill Arkwright, another spook. Arkwright lives in a haunted mill on the edge of a treacherous marsh and his training methods are extremely harsh. He has toughened up many previous apprentices though and now he must do the same for Tom Ward.
But when the Fiend sends his own daughter, the powerful water witch, Morwena, to destroy Tom, Arkwright makes an error of judgement and the apprentice finds himself facing his enemies alone. The Spook and Alice hasten to his aid but will even their combined strength suffice in the face of such terrible dark power? And what is the Spook's mistake, the consequences of which might give final victory to the dark?
“Give it here!" Arkwright commanded. “Drop it! Drop it now!"
With a growl, Claw allowed something to drop from her jaws into his open hand.
“Good dog! Good dog! What a wonderful girl you are! Finally, after all these years!" Arkwright shouted, his voice filled with triumph. “We'll find her now! She won't get away this time…"
I looked at what he was holding in his hand, hardly able to believe what I was seeing.
It was a finger. A long forefinger with a green hue to the skin. And instead of a fingernail, it had a curved talon. Claw had bitten off the witch's finger.
“Stand up now!" she commanded, her voice sharp. “It's almost time. The moment of danger is close. Very soon our enemies will be here."
“Enemies?" I asked. “Is there more than one?"
“Of course, child. The Fiend's daughter will not be alone. She has called others to her aid. Water witches from far and wide are converging upon this hillock. The struggle is imminent."
I try to keep each book fresh by using new locations and characters. For the location here I chose the southern edge of the Lake District (now Cumbria but once part of Lancashire). But Bill Arkwright, Tom's new temporary master, came as a surprise to me. I'd intended to make him a haunted, nervous man who would need Tom to be the source of strength that would save them both. But Bill proved to be tough and dangerous, a spook who enjoyed breaking heads and had inner demons of his own.