The morning started out well and good today. Hop out of bed, get ready, drive to the local Panera for breakfast . . . but as I’m walking up to the entrance this guy is waiting for me. The one in the middle, mind you, not the buddy on the higher wire who flew in while I was snapping the picture. Naw, the raven in the middle, he/she is watching me, and as soon as I got even with them–caw, caw, caw! Dude just went off.
Being a sociable gal, I stopped and said, “You bringing me a message from The Imp?” Caw, caw! “No? Mommy of Dragons?” Caw, caw . . . caw, caw, caw! Maybe yes, maybe no. I didn’t get the full message, but I do know I wasn’t being asked if I lift.
For the record I find ravens fascinating. Like this one here, she’s obviously a big fan of my work in progress because she knows one of the covens is named after the Mórrígan, which is a good name for a coven of witches, as The Mórrígan was a goddess of battle, strife, and sovereignty, and I know the young ladies–and a few of the guys who sneaked in there–are all so happy about that.
For the record the Åsgårdsreia Coven was named so in honor of the Valkyries and the Wild Hunt. This means the witches of Åsgårdsreia, most of whom were and are women, take pride in their shieldmaiden status, and give it to the Mórrígan witches as good as they get. No word yet if anyone has fought an Åsgårdsreia witch and told them, “Can’t hurt me, bro,” only to be told, “I am no bro.” Should work that into the story.
Speaking of my current story, there are a few teachers who are Mórrígan legacies. The most famous at the moment is the one whom I’m writing about at the moment, Helena Lovecraft, the Head Sorceress. She’s the sort of person who’s taken the whole Goddess of Battle and Strife line right to the limit, and then a little beyond that. She shows up to teach class in jeans tucked into black boots, a simple pull over, and a leather jacket, because she can. It’s how she rolls. And right off the bat, she likes to get the class set straight:
(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
Taking one step back from the front row, her stacked boot heels clicking against the wood floor, the professor finally spoke. “I’m Helena Lovecraft, and I’m a sorceress.” She took hold of the lapels of her jacket. “I’m a damn good sorceress, and that’s not just a brag—that’s over twenty years of working for The Foundation as one outside Salem.” Her black eyes shifted back and forth, as if she expected someone to challenge her. “You may address me as Professor Lovecraft, or Professor. I’m certain, however, that by the end of this month most of you will have another name or two you’ll call me once you’re out of earshot.”
Unlike the other instructors Professor Lovecraft didn’t pace back and forth, but stayed in one spot as she spoke in an accent that Annie though sounded vaguely Australian. “Before we get into today’s lecture, let me get a few thing out of the way. First off, I’m from New Zealand—hence the accent. I’m of mixed ethnicity: my father is a Caucasian Kiwi by way of his family in England, and my mother is indigenous Māori. My mother was the second Māori to attend Salem: my grandmother was the first. Both were sorceresses; my grandmother was the Head Sorceress here for a few years.” She watched the students to see if anyone was going to speak, and saw the boy from the other day appearing like he wanted to speak. “You . . .” She gave him a slight grin: she knew his name, but wanted to appear as if she were searching her memory. “Kerry. You have something you want to ask?”
His face reddened as he realized he’d been called upon, but he recovered quickly. “Does your mother and grandmother have tattooing? And do you?”
Perceptive boy. “We all do. My grandmother has the traditional woman’s ta moko, but my mother and I follow a bit less traditional path.”
It was left to Lisa to blurt out the question that more than a few children had on their minds. “Wait—you have tats?”
As Helena turned to address Lisa her eyes narrowed. “I don’t have ‘tats’; there isn’t a bloody pink unicorn inked on my arse. Mine is ta moko, traditional Māori markings that are unique to me. Unlike tattooing, they were carved into my skin using uhi—chisels to you—so my skin has grooves.” She shook her head. “No, this goes well beyond the tattooing you see in the west. An expert in ta moko could look at my markings and know my life story in an instant.”
She didn’t wait for more questions on the subject. “Second: I am not related to Vivian Lovecraft, the founder of Åsgårdsreia Coven and co-founder of this school. My father discovered that particular Lovecraft family came from Northern England, and my father’s family is from near Bath. There is no blood relationship, so don’t ask.
“Third, I am also not related to another family Lovecraft known to these part, the American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Again, his family came from a completely different part of England that my father’s family. While I would love to claim that ‘Lovecraft Country’ is a part of my heritage, I’m afraid the answer is no. I’ll have to settle for the reality in which I live.
“And lastly . . . While I am from New Zealand, I know nothing of the Lord of the Rings. I know there are books; I know there are movies; I know the movies were filmed in my country. Beyond that, I know absolutely shite about the story, or any of the people who were there making the movie. I don’t know Gandalf, I don’t know Legolas, I don’t know any dwarfs or bloody hobbits. Evil magical rings, though, I do know: they’re rather easy to make. If you want one, come see me. And remember what people say about getting what you wish for . . .”
How many teachers are telling their students to come see them for an evil rings? Mine do, because they figure if you’re dumb enough to want one, you deserve whatever curse she throws into the damn thing. She’s already made the Hell Shawl (soon to be found on Etsy, $19,95, you pay shipping and subsequent petrification), so cursed items are a snap.
Though I can tell you, by the end of this scene there’ll be some cursing–
And Helena won’t be the one doing it.