Part Seven, the longest day in this school’s history–and it seems like the longest one in my writing history, too–is finally over. The Wednesday Night Panera “Dine and Write” went well, oh so well. I managed to close out the scene, which in turned closed out the chapter, which in turn closed out the penultimate part of Act Two. So long, you Day of the Dead. It was nice knowing you.
And what happened in the final part of the scene, where Deanna looked about ready to rip Annie a new one? You can find out for yourself . . .
All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
Deanna leaned against the railing. “In all the years you knew your Kerry, did you ever imagine that he would become a witch? Or a sorceress? Did you ever imagine that you’d both go to school together? That this Normal boy would become as good as spell crafting as you, a witch whose lived with magic all her life?”
Annie glanced at her soul mate and realized a truth that had eluded her until this moment. “No.”
“Did you even wonder if it were possible?”
She shook her head. “No.”
“And yet, here he is alongside you at all times: in your coven where you sleep, in the Dining Hall when you eat, on the grounds as you walk, and in your classes where you learn. Even in the air along side when you fly.” Annie blushed at the mention that she had been flying around the school grounds with him on the weekends. “And let’s not mention the Midnight Madness, where you both are so close as to be inseparable . . .
“Let me as your opinion on another matter: we don’t know for certain what happened yesterday when Kerry rescued Emma. We know he was hurt, and we know he manage to draw it away.” While her smile remained friendly, Deanna’s eyes bored down into Annie’s feelings. “Imagine that it was you instead of Emma. You know your Kerry: what would he have done?”
Once again Annie glanced down at him, only this time her view didn’t waver. She continued staring in his direction, watching him sit with his hands in his lap, staring straight ahead, watching students as they walked through the large expanse.
Deanna didn’t wait for Annie to answer, because she knew she was afraid to say what she knew. “He’d have fought that creature for as long as it would have taken to know you were safe.”
Annie looked away from Kerry and nodded slowly. “Yes.”
“He would have fought that Abomination—something he’d never seen before—until either it, or him, or both of them, were dead.” Deanna leaned towards Annie, her voice cold and merciless. “You know this.”
Annie said nothing, for the seer was right: she knew Kerry well enough from their years together that, as he’d stated not that long ago, that she was everything to him, the most important person in his world. If there was anyone he’d do everything in his power to protect, it was her.
She finally looked up and slightly raised her eyebrows. “Yes. I know this.”
Annie does know this, too, because if you believe her hype, she’s known Kerry most of her life. There’s no guessing with her: she’s really certain that, as Deanna suggests, Kerry probably would fight some Lovecraftian creature to the death to protect her. Because he’s that way.
And then Deanna lays this on our spoiled little girl:
Deanna nodded. “Maybe he doesn’t remember your dreams; maybe he doesn’t remember all the time you’ve already spent together; maybe he doesn’t remember that he loved you before you came to Salem. But he is your Kerry, and he loves you now. Actually, you have something special . . .”
“He’s fallen in love with you again. You: a girl he didn’t have any idea existed before you met him a little over two months ago. Without knowing a thing about you, he stood by your side, he spent his nearly every waking moment—and not a fun unconscious moments—with you, and he’s pledged his love to you.” Deanna finally turned so she could see Kerry sitting below, waiting for Annie. He looked up and waved; Deanna waved back. “In almost every way, he is your soul mate.” She turned her head and smiled at Annie. “There are a lot of people here who are envious of you, young lady. The first time they hear him say he loves you, they’re going to become jealous.”
Annie was facing in Kerry’s direction as well. She didn’t take her eyes off him. “That’s their problem, not mine.”
Deanna chuckled. “As I would expect you to feel.” She lowered her gaze and her voice took on a consolatory tone. “I’m sorry I called you selfish.”
“Well—” Annie sighed softly. “I was being selfish.”
“You’re in love; you’re allowed to be selfish now and then.” She stepped back from the railing and motioned for Annie to follow. “Come on; I want to say hello.”
I ended the scene pretty much there because to include anything else was to drag it out. We know the kids did a great job, we know Kerry’s hurt, we know Annie’s pretty much happy and will find herself growing happier. So th-tha-tha-that’s all, folks! No more Attack Day.
But wait! There’s more!
Damn right, because then I jump into the first chapter of Part Eight and not only started the scene, but eighteen hundred words later, I finished it. It was probably the best day I’ve had writing-wise in a while, and I was well into NaNo word count territory, because I ended the evening with about twenty-three hundred words total. (I managed almost five hundred words on the nose finishing up the last scene.)
We’re over to The Witch House now, and Annie’s down in The Black Vault, the area where all the pretty dangerous material on sorcery is kept. (And if you want to know: yes, the really dangerous material on sorcery is keep in the Library in the under-lock-and-key-and-spells Special Section which is protected by wards, enchantments, and Mr. Parkman.)
Helena pointed to the empty spot on one of the bookshelves. “Because a volume is missing, and it’s a companion to the other three volumes by Gilaromey.” She shook her head. “I know The Vault inside and out, and have pretty much memories the locations of every volume here.” She laid her right index finger against her lips and cleared her throat. “That way if when I need to look something up, I don’t have to go searching.”
“Makes sense.” Annie also suspected that Helena had probably put The Vault together, and was the one to determine where every book was place.
“So . . .” Helena positioned herself next to the still-sitting student and kept her eyes locked on the volume in Annie’s lap. “If you’re reading Gilaromey, you’re reading up on shadow magic.”
Annie looked up, chuckling. “Nothing escapes you, Professor.”
“Gilaromey is the expert on shadow magic, and required reading for anyone whose interested in mastering that particular craft.” She reached down and checked the title on the spine. “You’ve skipped the theory and went right for the practical application.”
“I’ve read Matters of Light and Darkness.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Helena waved over another chair and positioned it next to Annie’s, though she was careful to keep about a meter between them. She sat and made herself comfortable before saying any more. “Shadow crafting is the most difficult thing for a sorceress to learn, much less master.”
Annie had heard this mentioned before, but was never given a reason for this belief. “Why is that?”
“You said you’ve read Light and Darkness, yeah?”
“What does he say about darkness?”
“That most sorceresses deal only with what is real, and that darkness isn’t real—it only appears real to the senses.”
Helena nodded. “You got it. Darkness is nothing more than the absence of light, which means it only exists when light doesn’t. If magic—particularly sorcery—is meant to be the manipulation of what is real, then how can one control something that doesn’t actually exist?” She held out here arms and groaned as she stretched. “It’s a concept that a lot of great sorceress couldn’t ever get.”
Now we’re talking: a couple of sorceresses getting down into some strange magic. And they do chat about it, and it comes out that Annie’s sort of in awe of Helena’s life, since she learned a lot of sorcery when she was like seven and eight, which is something that happens when you mother and grandmother are pretty bad ass sorceresses as well. But Helena’s laughing this off, because from where she’s sitting, her life wasn’t that amazing. In fact, it had a lot of sucko moments:
She pushed herself deep into her chair, looked up and sighed. “Let me tell you a story: we had chickens on our estate because my mother had a thing about using fresh eggs in her cooking. While we had setting hens, we also had a fair number of clucks walking about that were meant for the dinner table.
“When my mother felt like chicken, she’d go out, point at a bird, and Blood Hammer that bastard. Boom! The head not only blew right off, but the hen usually bled out on the spot. Hey, better butchering through magic, right?
“When I turned eight I was told that I would take over the duties of Family Hen Killer, and I would need to learn the Blood Hammer spell. But rather than have my mother teach me, she handed me over to my grandmother for tutoring—only because she was the Queen of Morte. If there was killing to be done, Grandma was the one to handle the deed.
“I start learning Blood Hammer from her, and I sucked at it. Yeah, she had their version of our practice dummies, but after a few days of practice she started me out on chickens.” Helena started guffawing while remembering her trials and tribulations. “At first I don’t do shit to these birds, except cause a few to pass out because I’ve got too much blood to their little chicken brains and they can’t handle the stress.
“Honey, go out and use some magic to kill a couple of chickens. We have company coming over!” They should have gotten the house elf to do that . . . oh, wait: wrong world. And it’s sort of assumed that when Helena says “estate”, she’s not talking about some suburban bungalow: she’s probably talking a very nice joint where she grew up. With chickens. Whose heads exploded from time to time.
Then she talks about how she screwed up one spell and literally made a chicken explode. No exaggeration: the way she tells it there was a fowl mess all over the yard. Get it? I know . . . well, apparently someone else didn’t get the joke, either:
“I’m laughing my ass off, and then I get this hand grabbing me by my hair, and my Grandma is dragging me off to a quiet part of the yard where she proceeds to beat the shit out of me. She never laid a hand on me, didn’t have to: it was all combat spells, like that bloody Air Hammer you’re learning to control.” She looked down as she twisted up the right side of her face. “She wailed on me for close to five minutes, and when she was done she just turned around and headed back to the house. I laid there for about ten, fifteen minutes, then managed to get to my feet and walk to my room. I passed both my mother and Grandma in the kitchen, and neither said a word to me.
“I didn’t say anything for a couple of days, not until Grandma came back to continue the lesson. The first thing I asked was why she tore into me like she did, and she told me, ‘While that may have seemed severe, it’s nothing compared to what you would have felt had that spell Backlashed.’ I got it right away: you screw up a death spell, and the Backlash from said spell could kill you.” Helena finally raised her head and looked at Annie. “I never screwed up a spell that bad again.”
Annie wasn’t sure if she should say something or not. She’d never heard of any such cruelty like that in her family, but she didn’t discount that maybe, perhaps a few generations back, someone on either side of her family may have done something similar. I don’t know how I would have reacted if Mama had done something like that to me. But there was one question she had to ask . . . “Did you learn Blood Hammer?”
“Oh, yeah.” Helena grinned and nodded. “Got it right later that day, and took over the chicken killing duties the next day.” She laid her crossed hands upon her lap. “Was pretty good at it, too.”
There you have it: the Mistress of All Things Dark started out as the family chicken killer. Just point and Boom! I got your chicken, Mama!
The end of Act Two really is in sight now. And by tonight I’ll be at least half way, or maybe more than half way, through Chapter Twenty-Five, which isn’t a big chapter, but it’s setting things up for the next chapter, which is the month down the road that Annie is thinking about–and which is not making her happy. I’ll get to that when . . . well, when I get to it.