Walking Into the Shadows

Things are pretty much back to normal at the apartment these days.  The swelling is down considerably, though I still look a little puffy at the sides of the mouth.  That’ll go away by this weekend–just in time for me to do it all again.  It didn’t keep me from writing, but the nap and the need to run out and get a few things didn’t help.  Hey, that’s life:  it’s a pain in the ass some times.

However, I didn’t exactly burn up the keyboards last night.  Distraction was a major problem, and it always seems to come up when I’m working out the details of a scene.  The set-up is painful, but once I get the set-up, um, set-up, things tend to go quickly after that.  But getting there?  I’ve managed a little over a thousand words in two days, and the close to seven hundred I did last night was with my kicking my own ass to get into gear, ’cause I wasn’t feeling the love to do something creative.

Also, I, Robot was on, and I never miss a chance to beat down a bad movie.

The one thing I like about writing at this point is I’m back in the school, and there doesn’t need to be much time spent setting up the scenery.  If you’ve stuck with me these last two years, you know the school.  And so do I, since the last two novels I’ve written have both been about the School of Salem–my July 2013 Camp NaNo novel set up A For Advanced by showing what happened during The Scouring, so you get to see younger version of . . . well, just about everyone.  For the record, Erywin and Jessica had been teaching a while, Maddie and her husband David has been there a couple of years as had Mathias, and Ramona had just started that school year as the Self Defense/Weapons instructor.  Isis, Wednesday, and Deanna were students, and Coraline makes a cameo as she takes over in the hospital.  Oh, and you get to see, at the very end, Helena walk in and pretty much turn on the ice machine.

Here, in the novel year of 2012, things are so different, and yet, they’re still the same.  At least I remember it all.

Let’s get into the scene and, right off the bat, we meet the new kid:

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

The first unofficial day of school for returning students was starting out strange for the new B Levels from Cernunnos Coven. It didn’t begin that way, however: before getting out of the tower Annie and Kerry were introduced to the other new C Level, Jairo Ybarra, a Venezuelan of Mestizo ethnicity from the city of Turmero. He was tall, a good six centimeters more than Penny, and lanky, with jet black hair and deep brown eyes, and nervously friendly. Kerry thought the kid was almost embarrassed to greet them; he spoke to them, Annie in particular, using limited eye contact and a great deal of hesitancy when speaking. Annie told Kerry on the way to the Great Hall that Jario’s nervousness around them had her wondering if there were stories being passed around by the upper levelmates throughout the previous school year, and if so, what was said?

 

The new kid is from here, down in the left-bottom.  Hi, new kid!

The new kid is from here, down in the left-bottom. Hi, new kid!

Now we know everyone living on the second floor of the coven, and it’s still not a lot, but it’s better than having an entire floor to one’s self.  The interesting thing is that in the next novel Annie and Kerry will be the ones giving the glad hand to the new B Levels, and by that time they’ll be the old hands of the school.  Another interesting thing:  were people from B Levels up talking about Annie and Kerry?  It’s . . . possible.  After all, they were a pretty noticeable couple, and they did participate in the defense of the school, and they were rewarded for that effort.  Also . . . will anyone ever ask about how it came to be that Annie went home one weekend for a “family emergency” and Kerry went to New York for “testing”, and when they returned to the school they both needed to spend the night in the hospital?  Hummm . . . probably not.  Mostly because they’ll remember that Helena and Erywin were away that weekend as well–both for “business reasons”–and they came back about the same time . . .

Naw.  Who wants to open that can of worms?

Speaking of Helena . . .

 

The walk to the Witch House seemed to go faster than both children anticipated; Annie felt it was their being back in familiar territory once more—and being there together—put them in the right frame of mind. Kerry felt that it helped they were on their own, the same team who’d left Salem together at the start of summer, a year older and ready to get tested in ways never seen before.

Annie always loved that Kerry thought of them as partners, a couple who worked together. She liked the idea of “couples” more than “partners”, but she was wise enough to realize that successful couples were also great partners—and if they were both going to be fantastic sorceresses—the Dark Witch to each other—and possible Guardians, they needed to work together seamlessly as a team.

They arrived at the seemingly-set-in-perpetual-gloom Witch House and entered. Annie tested the door to Helena’s ground floor office and found it locked. She nodded towards the stairs. “She’s in the office below.” Annie had suspected they would find her there, because if the Head Sorceress was calling them out to the Witch House at eight, then she wanted to discuss something important.

And anything being discussed in the Witch House that was important would happen in Helena’s office in the lower level.

The door to the office was open. Annie stopped in the open doorway and smiled as Kerry stood close behind. “You wanted to see us?”

Helena Lovecraft, the Head Sorceress of Salem, the Mistress of All Things Dark, and the semi-official liaison to the Guardians, motioned for the students to enter. “You two, come on in.” She stood away from her desk as Erywin, who was also there, came over to join here. “Right on time, as expected.”

 

Annie loves her Dark Witch, her partner in crime and love.  And that’s possible Guardians with a “s”:  she’s believing that they’ll work as a team, and go to the Big G as a team.  Time will tell.

Back in the office . . .

 

Erywin moved towards Kerry, her arms spread wide. “Come here, young man.” He didn’t hesitate to let the instructor hug him, and he hugged her back as hard as he could. “The rest of the summer turn out well?”

Kerry nodded as he stepped back. “Yeah.” He turned to Annie, smiling. “Especially the last week.”

“I’m certain of that.” Erywin turned to Annie, who was smiling back at her. “Hug? Or should we just shake hands?”

“I think—” She embrace Erywin. “—a hug is in order. Thank you for the lunch date.”

“You’re so welcome.” Erywin released the girl. “Anything for our favorite students.”

Helena stood looking somewhat forlorn. “And what about me?” She frowned at Annie. “No hugs from my favorite student?”

 

Wait–what is all this hugging?  Erywin and Kerry I can see–it would appear that they get along and understand each other well, and in time, this relationship will grow.  But now Annie’s getting hugs and . . . complements from the Mistress of All Things Dark?  How many times before does anyone thing Helena has called someone “her favorite student”?  Show of hands?

 

Annie hesitated for a couple of seconds because she’d never heard such an admission from Helena. The woman has spent most of last year being cold and hard nearly every waking moment—and yet, Annie saw the facade drop a few times, like the time Helena showed her how to create and control shadow ribbons. At that moment she hadn’t been a teacher: she’d been a friend.

She stepped up and wrapped her arms around Helena. “You get a hug.”

“I was starting to wonder—” She turned her attention to Kerry when she was finished with Annie, and presented him with a warm embrace. As soon as she was finished with their greetings, she pointed to the chairs facing her desk. “You guys wanna take a seat?” Annie took the middle chair of three in the room; Kerry sat to her right and Erywin to her left.

Helena retreated to her chair behind her desk. “You’re here because last night I received a Guardian directive from San Francisco that was counter-signed by Amsterdam and Paris.” She was aware there wasn’t a need to elaborate: by now everyone in the room knew the locations of the Guardians North American and World Wide headquarters, as well as the overall headquarters of The Foundation. “Tanith will arrive at school this afternoon.”

 

And there’s the real deal that will come tonight:  Tanith, she of the Kansas City Field Operation, is coming to school, and when you’re getting directives shot at you from three top headquarters in The Foundation, you have to sit up and take notice.  This is also a bit more evidence that the kids are sort of in the loop now, because it’s a secret meeting in the lower levels of the Witch House, and that’s some serious stuff.

Last night I did trip over the thirty thousand word mark–

Actually it was more like stumbling with grace.

Actually it was more like stumbling with grace.

And after we get this “The A Levels are Coming” business out of the way, we can . . . um, well, really, we won’t get to class for a bit.  But there is something coming up with a certain Seer we haven’t seen in a while . . .