Upon Their Ways

This is it:  the final scene with the Headmistress of the School of Salem.  For after this moment she’ll be seen no more–and I mean that, at least for this story.  In fact, from here on out you’ll only hear from four more instructors and a staff member before the book reaches its conclusion, and a few other adults here and there, but with the exception of one scene, it’s all Annie and Kerry from here on out.  And even in the scene where it’s two instructors talking, Annie and Kerry are sorta there as well.

There is, however, one more scene I may add, and that’s Kerry finally returning home.  We saw him leave–a long time ago, I might add–with Ms. Rutherford, and after returning from the school he’ll return home with her.  By putting this in, the end of the novel will sort of reflect the beginning, where we saw Annie first, then two scenes with Kerry.  The end of the novel with have two scenes with Kerry, then Annie alone.  A nice little bookend.

But first, a last supper, if you will, at the Salem Institute for Greater Learning and Education.

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Headmistress Mathilde Laventure ascended the podium and watched the students gathered for the last dinner of the current school year. With the graduating class and the Last Cuts now home or on their way, the students now gathered in the Dining Hall numbered thirty-five fewer than this time last week. We’re missing a Coven and a quarter. She took her place behind the podium and activated the microphone spell. Let’s hope we can make that up next year.

“Good evening, students.” She scanned the crowd before her. “As you are aware, this is out last dinner together this school year, our last opportunity to enjoy each other’s camaraderie—a chance to enjoy one last, good meal before we depart Salem.

“Some of you will leave tonight, so we can get you to the other side of the world in an agreeable time. Most of you will sleep for a last time this year in your coven towers, awake tomorrow and partake in an enjoyable breakfast. Most of you will leave in the space between then and lunch; the rest of you will leave later in the afternoon. By tomorrow evening all of you will be back in your own homes, eating dinner with your families, sleeping in your own beds. Your time with us will have come to an end; the following morning you will begin your summer holiday.”

 

While what Mathilde says is correct, the are thirty-five fewer students than a week before, the graphic I showed you yesterday is wrong, because I left off something:  the nine students that died during the Day of the Dead attacks.  Factor those in and we have one hundred and five students at this dinner.  (I give that number because one of the deceased students was an F Level and is one of the two that didn’t make it to graduation.)  I’ll now have to fix that because, hey, I’m all about getting it right.

After a few things said about how lucky everyone is to be moving on–or leveling up, if you will–she turns her attention to the new students who aren’t so new any more.

 

She shifted her gaze to the children sitting closest to the dais, her smile still radiant. “It is a special moment for you A Levels, for you finally leave the fishbowl and enter the pond. From this moment on you are a integrated part of the school, meaning you may participated in inter-cover sports and other extra-curricular activities. Keep in mid, however, that you’ll now be held to an even higher standard of conduct than you were this year, and where you could beg ignorance for grievances and misdemeanors, that is no longer true. You know the rules and regulations: you now understand how Salem works. Incidences as A Levels which may have led to verbal warnings and minor detentions will merit far sterner punishments. And you will quickly discover that if you cause problems for another student, those students have ways of rectifying their grievances.”

 

This “rectifying their grievances” thing has been hinted at when the expression “call them out” has been used.  They’re talking about magical combat, where someone gets tired of being picked on and has the chance to fix that situation by heading out to the Manor where Self Defense is taught and doing their best to beat the shit out of the other person with spells.  Naturally if you’re good with, say, sorcery, you’ll have an advantage–and should you know, oh, Morte spells, the chances are pretty good no one will ever mess with you.  You’ll also be watched a lot closer by Security as well, and if you end up bullying people because you know they can’t do anything against your magic, you may find yourself being called out by the Chief of Security–and that would be bad.

With that we get to the end of Mathilde’s speech, and something special . . .

 

Mathilde looked to her right and nodded to one of the kitchen staff. “And now, a tradition our upper level mates know quite well, but which we’ve kept hidden as best we can from our A Levels. If you will . . .” A champagne flute of nearly clear, bubbling liquid appeared before not just the A Levels, but every student in the hall. As a murmur rose among the A Levels, the headmistress spoke. “There’s no need to get excited: it’s sparkling apple juice. If we were in France, however . . .” She chuckled at her own joke, then grew more serious. “This school has a long and storied history, and with every additional year we instruct the Aware, that history grows even more storied. There are many graduates of this institution who have went on to initiate great changes within The Foundation, and in some instances, throughout the world as well.

“I see the A Levels sitting before me, and I can’t help but wonder: will your names be immortalized one day in the Hall of Remembrance? Some of you have already earned a special place there—” She grinned but did not look at any students in particular. “—but I suspect that a few of you will achieve greatness. When we say ‘You are the future’, I firmly believe that a few of you will make differences that will affect not only the Aware and The Foundation, but the world as a whole. You will help make the future for all of us and those who follow.

“With that said, a toast.” She raised her flute, as did all the instructors and staff sitting on either side of the headmistress. A few seconds later, every student in the hall did likewise. “To the past and the success we’ve archived; to the present and the events which shape our character and our being; and to the future, which we will shape for the betterment of everyone.”

Mathilde set her flute aside and lightly drummed her fingers against the podium. “But enough of me talking . . .” She spread her arms wide and smiled. “Let’s eat.”

 

Yeah, lets toast the students, and let them toast themselves, and hope the kids who are good with transformation magic don’t ferment that apple juice a little too much before sucking it down.  You can bet every instructor on that dais is turning up their Spidey Senses just waiting for some kid to go, “Yeah, I’ll fix this!” so they can finish off dinner with a good buzz.  Save that for when you’re out of school and you can hang with your witchy friends.

"Remember all those times we nearly died trying to change the world?  Yeah, good times.

“Remember all those times we nearly died trying to change the world with magic? Yeah, that was fun.”

So there you have it:  the absolute last school activity.  Next scene is the following morning, a Friday, and it’s time to leave . . .