Down in the Spell Cell

After the blood and gore of the previous scene, things are turning more relaxed and intimate.  Last scene we had the space of Gwydion Manor and more than thirty people and homunculi standing and shambling about participating in all sorts of messy hell; now I pull it back and focus on the two main characters at the center of this long 30 September of 2011.

Sometimes it’s a little strange switching gears like this, though the novel dos roll from one extreme to the other at times.  You’ll have thirty-two kids in a class, then it’s a quiet moment between two people.  Then again, even when it’s all about a bunch people getting their butts kicked by a bunch of fake zombies–then again, aren’t all zombies fake?–it still boils down to my two main characters.  Though, quickly, there is a scene coming up where, for the first time since the scenes in Amsterdam and on the flight over, my kids are not in a scene.  Hey, there are times when I gotta give them a rest.

Where are they, then?  Let’s see . . .


(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Spell Cell #3 was one of the many “specialty rooms” located in the lower level of the Spells Center and used for specialized casting. This was a fire room equipped with special enchantments designed to drain any out-of-control spells, and those enchantments had saved many students over the last one hundred thirty years the room had been in use.

Because of the spells tested here, the interior was spartan. All counters and tables were metal, as were the two fire pits in the center of the cell. The three chairs in the room were constructed of light carbon filament with cushions with fire resistant enchantments. Lights were recessed into the joint between the ceiling and the walls, with illumination directed along the edge of the room. Lastly the door to the cell was a thick carbon filament object slotted into the wall and designed to seal off the cell from the hallway.


I need a spell cell; they must come in handy.  And this one is a fire cell, which means someone’s about to play with something hot and flammable.

Why are my kids here?


They were making charcoal.

Much as they done that morning, they’d worked together developing their project plan. They’d read up on the process of making charcoal; they’d determined the best wood to use; and, most importantly, they’d worked out the spells they needed for the project.

They were witches: magic was getting used.

Inside the cell they began setting up. Annie dumped her wood into one of the fire pits and stacked it into a neat pile. Kerry dumped his wood on the floor next to the pit and stacked it on top of Annie’s pile, save for a single piece of hickory he set against the wall. Then he removed his backpack and removed a book on transformation theory, his computer, and his phone. He powered on his computer and turned to Annie. “The other books are here, too—right?”

She nodded before setting the tote bags aside. “The library is just down the hall; that’s why I asked for this test room.”

Kerry nodded. Annie was like that; always thinking ahead and finding them the easiest path to walk. “We should get that stuff first. And the bucket.”

She removed an orange, twenty liter folding bucket from her messenger bag. “Grabbed this when we were getting the wood.”

Kerry gave her a peck on the cheek. “That’s why I love you.” He threw open the spell cell door. “Lead on, please.”


Magic, bitches:  we’re using it.  But it isn’t Wednesday, so they’re not wearing black.  Though lets give that a few days . . .

This is where my nutty research comes into play, because I had to do a lot of reading on the making of charcoal, the old and new ways, and then figure out the sort of magic that one would need to use to replicate to function.  It also had to involve things that the kids could look up as well, but considering they’re in a school with something like forty thousand books–not all of them magical related; after all, unlike going to Hogwarts, the kids here will have a need for math in the future–and they have internet connections to the outside world, they’d be able to find this information with a little bit of help from Mr. Parkman’s catalog system, and some judicious Google-fu.

I also checked on the wood totes and the folding twenty liter bucket–all good.  And stuff that Professor Semplen would have laying about his building.  The one Annie is holding is orange, too:  you can see it on Amazon.

The lower levels of the Spell Center has a library–the whole damn school is pretty much library heavy.  The kids are looking for things–you know, stuff–just to guide them, because after a month they’re confident they can tackle anything.  It’s a good attitude to have, though sometimes people have blown themselves up with this sort of initiative.  Hey, spells happen, you know?

The scene ends on a quiet note–


Kerry looked up over the top of his glasses. “I’ll be careful.”


He reached over and wrapped his index finger around hers. “Promise.” He pulled his hand away and waved with his pinkie. “Though we should do pinkie swears—”

Annie leaned back in her chair and laughed. “Given all the horrible stuff that’s happened this morning, and you still make me laugh.”

Kerry patted her hand lightly, his eyes growing soft as he took in her lovely smile. “It must be something you do to me, love.” He turned back to his book. “Let me see if I can figure this out.”

Annie returned to her own reading, but she had to force herself to concentrate on the words on the page, because she kept slipping back to something Kerry said . . . Love. He called me love . . .


That Kerry–just like whipped cream, he’s getting smoother with time.  As long as you keep whipping him, that is.  Not that Annie does that . . .

There’s something else I did with Chapter Fourteen.  After writing last night’s scene I created a second scene and layered it under the existing one–the title of which I also change, to Thirty Days Hath Spelltember–then given what I know about the last scene in the chapter, I layered another scene under that.

It's a good thing Scrivener makes it easy for one to do this, or--well, I was going to say "Drive myself nuts," but I usually take the limo for this madness.

It’s a good thing Scrivener makes it easy for one to do this, or–well, I was going to say “Drive myself nuts,” but I usually take the limo for this madness.

Why do I do this?  It helps me keep things simple and segregated.  Last night’s scene was enough to kick Act Two just over twenty thousand words, and when you add that to the one hundred and fifty thousand words of Act One, that means I’ve got a hell of a lot of wordage to follow.  Though I do know where everything is–more or less.

It’s one of the curses of working out a project for months before you ever begin writing.