My computer, aka The Beast, has been a pain in the butt this morning, deciding to run hot and cold, fast and slow, and at one point I had to reboot the sucker because of program load issues. It’s almost like it’s telling me to take it easy today . . .
You are not the boss of me, evil old computer. I’ll write on you as much as I like. Just let me, you know, do that. Thanks. Onward.
Chapter Seven has become a thing–well, it’s started, is what I mean. With the first scene out of the way, I’m about three thousand words from rolling over to fifty thousand, and that will likely happen during the quick chapter on the advanced transformation class. This first scene took a little bit of work–slow, writing work–because when I have to start describing things and feelings and all that, it seems to drag. Just like when I write action: it may seem fast and furious, but not when you have to sit and figure it all out. Nope, nope, nope. Who said writing was a lot of fun?
I did mention that Erywin was the first to set up a special program for advanced students at the school, and that the advanced lab is used by no one else but advanced students. Just like The Black Vault her pretty girl keeps safe, Erywin feels you only get to the top when it’s earned, and while everyone else has super great facilities–compared to what you’d find in a Normal chemistry class, the Salem equipment is the top o’ the pop–they don’t get their own special lab.
Of course, guess who gets to join this afternoon delight?
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
Annie entered the room, followed closely by Kerry. Both were still in their school uniforms; as with the other advanced classes street clothes were the norm, but Erywin was also aware that they had Astrophysics One right after dinner, and she supposed they figured it would be too much trouble to change back into their uniforms for Harpreet’s evening class.
“Welcome.” Erywin headed over to greet her newest students. “I figured you’d show about now.”
Annie clutched her hands. “We’re nothing if not punctual.”
Kerry took up position beside his girlfriend. “We hate being the last ones to show. Right, Sweetie?”
She leaned into him. “As always, my love.” She straightened and smiled. “How are you today . . . Erywin.”
“Oh, I’m fine.” She felt Annie’s hesitation due to not knowing if the familiarity they had not only in Wednesday’s class, but on their mission during the last school year, was the same here. “And you don’t have to worry: just like the other advanced classes, we’re on a first-name basis here.” Erywin examined the student’s jackets. “How do you like the new accouterments?” She touched the left lapel of Annie’s jacket. “Bit of an improvement, eh?”
Kerry spoke while Annie beamed. “It’s a bit of an improvement over last year, that’s for sure.” In place of the single green star that indicated they were A Levels were now two green stars, one placed over the other. “I noticed the C Levels on our floor have three in a triangle.”
“Yes, and in your D Levels they’ll form a diamond.” Erywin pointed across the room where she’d had two lab stations placed together. “That’s your set-up over there. Go ahead and take a seat.”
And just so you know, the E Levels’ stars form a pentagram, and the F Levels’ form a Seal of Solomon, both of which are powerful symbols. I actually laid out pictures of this one–you back there, stop laughing!–so I should dig them out . . .
There you go: green star markers for my kids.
During their set up time at their lab station–which is the only one set up for two people, go figure–they get a visitor and learn something . . .
“No, they aren’t.” They turned to find a slim, older student in a dark green dress standing behind them. She bushed her brown hair back from her face. “I suppose Erywin wants you to work together—probably due to your reputation.” She nodded towards them. “I’m Nesreen Shalhoub.”
Annie nodded back. “Annie Kirilova.”
“Kerry Malibey.” He began grinning. “Though you probably knew that if you know us by reputation.”
“Sorry about that.” She appeared almost embarrassed to speak. “I’m from Blodeuwedd; last year we used to hear about you all the time from Fidele and Collin—
“Collin talked about us?” Kerry was a little surprised to hear this. Annie and he figured Fidele Diaz, their levelmate from the Philippines, was the one who began calling them the “Lovely Dovey Couple”, but this was the first time either of them heard mention of Collin McCarty, the boy from Eire, discussing them as well.
“A great deal.” The girl nodded twice. “It seemed to be one of their main subjects of conversation in the commons.”
“Maybe that’s the real reason Collin didn’t return.” Annie smirked sideways at Kerry before questioning Nesreen. “How long have you been in this class?”
There’s that Lovey Dovey Couple crap that follows them around like a personal demon. And keep that meme out there, Annie, that Collin didn’t return because he didn’t want to face your wrath, ’cause like Helena said, nothing like having a bad ass rep while you’re in school to keep the losers from bothering you. Gee, I wonder what they were saying? Obviously, if a then E Level heard their BS, that means a whole lot of the rest of the coven did as well.
Speaking of meeting new people–
“It was one of the reasons The Foundation wanted to get involved in magic, to find out how it could be used for scientific and technical applications.” Erywin turned and brought her companion forward. “Oh, and this is Honza Zelenka, one of your covenmates from the floor above you.”
“I’m an E Level.” He shook Kerry’s hand, then Annie’s. ”I heard Nesreen speaking; she’s not the only one who’s heard of you.” He looked at Annie. “Mluvíte Česky?”
She tilted her head slightly to the right and shrugged. “Ne moc dobře. Jak je váš Bulgarian?”
Honza twisted his right hand back and forth. “Tova ne e losho. Ne razbiram mnogo ot shans da go govori, vse pak.”
Annie half-turned her head to the left. “Tova e dobre za nyakoĭ, koĭto ne go govori chesto.” She turned to the smiling Kerry, who was used to hearing his sweetheart speak in her normal language. “I’ll tell you later.”
“Preferably after class.” Erywin say that all her students were present. “All right—” She waved the door shut. “Find your seats and we’ll get started.”
Now wait for the first Welsh student to show up, and Kerry will have his hands full–particularly since he’s not a native speaker. Also, what is Kerry hearing Annie say besides, “I love you”? We know that Annie switches over to Bulgarian when she swears, so he can probably tell through the tone of her voice when she’s muttering sweet Bulgarian nothings in his ear, and she’s ready to rip off someone’s head.
After introductions and a promise that Erywin’s gonna visit everyone, she gets with the kids to tell them how things work in this class:
“All right, you two.” Erywin set her elbows against the stations and leaned forward. “We do things a little differently here, but then you already knew that. The biggest in this class is that we involve ourselves in month-long projects, so what we start today you aren’t expect to complete until the last Monday in September—which means you have four classes to turn in your completed project.”
She had their attention, so having them understand the new world they’d entered was going to be easy. “We’re all about creating here. The idea is to teach you to create, to develop the formulas for your mixtures from scratch, based upon what you’ve already learned—”
“That’s a lot different from what we did last year.” While Kerry didn’t appear worried, his voice carried a hint of concern.
Annie felt the same way, but she also knew another truth. “But we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t felt we couldn’t do this, dear.” She lightly touched his hand. “Yes?”
He nodded. “Yeah.”
Erywin turned to Kerry: while Annie carried her own doubt now and then, he was the one who sometimes found himself falling into traps his mind laid. “Do you remember the very first mixture you created last year?”
“Yes.” He gazed at the surface of the counter as he thought about that class. “The petrification removal mixture.”
“That’s correct. Out of thirty-two student only three managed to produce it correctly. And only two decided to make it using the more complex alternate formula.” Erywin chuckled. “Listen to your significant other: you’re here not only because I believe you can do the work, but because you’ve proven me correct.
“What I want you to remember is you aren’t only here to learn, you’re here to think. You didn’t come to Salem to take tests and memorize data; you’re here to develop your mind into a first-class instrument. That’s what we do in this class—we get you to thinking.” She lightly tapped them both on the forehead, eliciting smiles. “It’s the thinkers who are gonna run this world, not the test takers. And I know which ones you’re becoming.”
In this world there are doers and thinkers, and the thinkers are gonna win every time, ’cause they’re outside the box lookin’ in, and that gives them all the advantages. It seems like this is some pretty heavy shit for a couple of twelve year old kids to get into, but there’s something you, the reader, will discover in–um, I think two novels from now–that explains this. Magic is tied into imagination, but the ability to use it also ties back to intelligence, and while some of these witches might seem dumb, it’s because they’re still kids. Give them a few years to mature and get their wits about them–
It’s already been shown that can be the different between life and a hard death.