Before anything else goes down, there’s a little something that popped up on my Facebook time line today, and that something has to do with historical timelines. I bring this up because one year ago today I posed The Coming of the Chestnut Girl, and we finally discovered the identity of The Chestnut Girl, about Kerry’s attachment to Annie through their dreams, how he first expressed something most important to her.
Of course that little coming out session led to my kids getting confronted by Helena as soon as they were done pouring their hearts out, and before long they’d find someone trying to rip their hearts out, because bad guys are assholes. Not to worry thought, ’cause my kids were trained up enough that they managed to keep everyone from dying, and eventually Kerry learned (1) that someone wanted him to be a Dark Witch and (2) to stop overthinking everything.
What a difference a year makes–
I eventually wrote just over eighteen hundred words yesterday, and this section I’m showing today is all about practical demonstrations, and it starts off in a bit of a snarky way . . .
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
Kerry looked to Annie as she looked back. She half-shrugged her head to the right. “How do you feel?”
“You guys don’t have to do this.” Helena stepped so she was almost between them so she could speak more confidentially. “Like Annie said, you’re not here to show off.”
“True, but—” Kerry quickly glanced to his right, then between Annie and Helena. He lowered his voice. “I’m tried of Lisa’s crap.”
Annie nodded and spoke in the same hushed tones. “So am I.”
“Then it’s settled.” Helena returned to her spot to Kerry’s right. “Since I brought a few homunculi for those students who might be ready for a go at a quick test of their abilities, you’ll be able to see what my minions can do.” She glanced to her far left. “Annie, would you mind demonstrating the Exsanguination spell? I’ve not actually seen you do this on a full homunculus, and I would love to see it in action. I hear your spell is . . .” The right corner of her mouth curled upward. “Killer.”
Annie smiled darkly at Helena’s inside joke. “Of course, Professor.”
Who says Helena doesn’t have a sense of humor? It’s just a little snark between Guardians, is all–and if you don’t believe Annie isn’t thinking of herself as a Guardian by now, you don’t know my Chestnut Girl. As with all things involving her, it’s eyes on the prize, and this prize has a big “G” on the ID.
So let’s get Annie up there first with her killer spell:
Helena pulled out a tablet and began scrolling through something on the screen. A moment later one of the cabinets that were used for holding homonculi appeared about twenty meters from the group. “Since Ramona knows how much you all love those training zombies, she cooked up a batch this week just for you.” She tapped the screen a few times, then nodded at Annie. “You go first.”
“Yes, Professor.” She examined the cabinet as she stepped about five meters away from the other students. “Tracker homunculus?”
“Oh, yeah.” Helena grinned. “Those always give people an incentive to be good.” Her finger hovered over the tablet display. “Ready?”
Annie looked straight ahead, flexing her fingers. “Yes, Professor.”
“Here goes.” She tapped the display.
Right off the bat, when Annie says, “Tracker homunculus,” the students watching should have grown nervous. Then you watch Annie standing there like she’d ready to beat the hell out of someone, and that should have been Nervous Moment #2. So let’s open the door and see who’s about to try and lay the smack on Annie.
The door opened and the homunculus stumbled out. Annie was well acquainted with the type: a girl-like humanoid about her size dressed in a school uniform and appearing to be about a week dead. Like the ones Kerry and she had trained with in the past, this one didn’t stink of rotting flesh, though Annie half expected that at some point Helena would throw a few like that at them to test their concentration.
The tracker zombie keyed on Annie and snarled, then began shambling towards her. She was aware that these homunculus moved faster than they appeared to move, but in the short time she’d had to set up Annie knew what she wanted to do to this thing. All of them want some sort of an exhibition— She pushed her hair back over her shoulders and began to craft.
The zombie girl was about four meters from Annie when two black ribbons eased down from the shadows and wrapped around the homunculus’ upper arms. The zombie snarled and thrashed, but couldn’t free itself from Annie’s spell. It stumbled forward another three meters, finally jerking to a stop about a half meter from the unmoving, unwavering Annie. With Annie close enough to touch it reached out, trying to get hold of her so it could carry out its instinct to bite.
Annie stood in front of the angry, snarling creature, showing no emotion. Once she was certain the homunculus was secure she reached out and took the zombie’s hand in her right and pressed it down hard. It was only as she began crafting the transformation spell that a slight smile finally appeared upon her face.
Slowly the zombie’s hair changed from the the dark brunette to a light blond almost the identical shade of Lisa’s hair. Annie knew it wasn’t necessary to go this far to make a point, but as like Kerry she’d grown tired of the girl’s crap, and while she didn’t know if the argumentative girl would get the point Annie was about to make, she knew others in their level would.
The little sorceress inhaled deeply, clearing her mind. What she was about to do next she’d done before, and under far different, more stressful, conditions. She focused her energy and pulled in the dark energy she needed finish crafting her Exsanguination spell. All that remained was for her to activate the spell with her will . . .
She raised her left hand close to her face and pointed her finger at the snarling face of the zombie.
So the kids wanted to see stuff, but they weren’t likely expecting Annie to go all Natural Born Killer on this simple homunculus. Sure, it’s enchanted to make you go unconscious the moment it bites you, because you should always know that if this were real–and who’s to say this isn’t in this world?–you’d be Zombie Chow.
But Annie’s taking this shit to another level. First, she shows she can truss up her zombie and that she has no fear it’s going to free itself from her shadow ribbons. Then she works in her little bit of transformation magic she’s learned from Kerry and gives her homunculus the same shade of hair as Lisa.
And then she gets serious . . .
Blood immediately began gushing from the homunculus’ nose, ears, and mouth. The snarling increased as the creature’s head began whipping about, spraying Annie’s face and the upper half of her uniform jacket and blouse with flecks of blood. Annie gripped the creature’s hand and held it steady as the homunculus’ clothing began soaking up the blood seeping from its body. In a few seconds the creature’s eyes filled with blood and sprayed away from its face as a huge burst of fluids doused the floor under its feet. The homunculus jerked three times and went limp a few seconds before falling completely.
Annie took two steps back from the zombie before turning and presenting a bloody visage to her fellow students—some who were gasping, some who were retching. She swiped blood from her eyes and flicked it to the floor before waving her hand back over her shoulder to kill the shadow ribbons. “I hope—” She walked towards Helena as the lifeless zombie homunculus collapsed with a loud thud. “—that was what you expected, Professor.”
Helena nodded and did her damnedest to keep the smile on her face from being seen by anyone but Annie and Kerry. “That was was far more than expected, Annie.” She waited until Annie, bloody and smiling, stood at her left before nodding towards Kerry. “Give me a minute to jaunt this mess away, then it’s your turn.”
That Annie, she knows how to show off when she wasn’t intending to show off. The thing is Annie doesn’t show off, and everything she did had a point–
Everyone in the room got to see Annie’s signature move, and managed to see it in a way that didn’t involve them screaming and running for their lives, as they likely would have done the first time Annie kicked this sucker off when it was meant to mean something. Sure, the shade throwing wasn’t necessary, but as Helena once said, one of the best things you can get for yourself is a bad ass rep, and Annie certainly added to that one.
Up next, Kerry–
Just as soon as they bloody zombie is out of the room.