You may find this hard to believe, but I didn’t write last night. I was out to a wine dinner last night, and by the time I returned I was feeling a little boozy. I probably could’ve written, but I’m certain whatever would’ve went down would not have been that good.
However, a word of warning: if you haven’t been eating much for an entire week and you go to a wine dinner that involves five courses and five different kinds of wine, expect to feel just a touch queasy the next morning–like I am right now. Also, somehow I snapped off a nail in the middle of the night and now I need to go get my mail repaired. Eh, it was time for polish change anyway.
I admit the last week and a half I’ve been less than enthusiastic about writing. I think some of it was the illness; I think some of it has just been the current events. I’m pretty certain that right now I’m at what I would call a high functioning depression, warm feeling a bit depressed but it’s not that “I just can’t take it anymore I don’t want to go on” type of depression. Also, the news out of Washington has been exactly the sort of stuff that for the last year I said was going to happen, and that’s not helping with my general mood. Fascism rarely does do anything for me that’s positive.
But here we have something positive: young witches who have been growing up before our eyes and are now becoming sorceresses of some reckoning. Yesterday we got the meet The Big Bad Sorceress; today we get the meet Her Minions.
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)
“I want to introduce you to a couple of people.” Helena moved behind Annie and Kerry. “It’s not unusual for the instructors to employ lab assistants, all of whom we like to call minions. I don’t often use minions for A Level sorcery, but this year I’m going to employ them a bit more that I have in the past. So I like you to meet your on-again, off-again minions: Annie Kirilova and Kerry Malibey. As you may be able to tell by the stars, they are C Levels from Cernunnos coven. Both of them are in my C Level Sorcery class, which means they’re good.” She patted them both on their shoulders. “Who am I kidding? They’re better than just good. Beside here, you’ll see Kerry racing this year, and it’s my understanding that Annie is going to do a bit of tutoring, either in classes or individually.” Once more there was a low chuckle. “As if she didn’t have enough to do.”
“Since you’re in The Fishbowl you won’t have any chance to interact with them outside of this class, or any other class they might be doing minion work for, because I’m not the only one is going to use them this year. But you are going to hear rumors about them, because even though you’re not supposed to interact with the upper level kids, you can’t help but hear things when you’re in the coven towers. You’re probably going to hear things like, oh, Annie beat the hell out of a kid during a judgment match last year, and Kerry fought off a monster to save the life of his flying partner. But those aren’t rumors because those things actually happened—
“There’s a lot of other things you’ll hear about them: most of it’s true, but a lot of it’s just fairy tales made up by students to amuse themselves because they’re bored. I will tell you this, however: you couldn’t ask for better sorcery minions. And when they are helping you with your lab work, it’s going to be like I’m helping you.” She slowly gazed around the room. “You had better believe what I just said, because it’s true.”
Helena brushed her hands together as she stepped away from her lab assistants. “Does anyone have any questions?” Misha Houtkooper raised his hand and Helena consulted the tablet she pulled from Hammerspace to make certain she got the name right. “Yes, Misha?”
Misha kept shifting his gaze from Helena to the top of his desk and back. Did this several times before speaking. “We heard from Professor Douglas that they might be helping us out, and someone in the coven told Lito and Sofia and me that back during their A Levels they—” He nodded in the direction of Annie and Kerry. “Left for part of a weekend with Professor Sladen and you. When they came back we were told they spent the night in the hospital because they were beat up.” He looked nervous as he asked his actual question. “They said it was because you guys were off doing something that had to do with guardians. Is that really true?”
It’s not often we hear Helena say anything nice about someone in public, but here she is talking up Annie and Kerry in front of a bunch of kids who’ve probably not met them. I mean, she did say if they’re teaching you it’s the same thing as me teaching, and I’d say that’s a pretty good indication that she considers them her equal. In the self-contained world that is Salem, this is high praise indeed.
But it would seem that even though Helena has told her class not the believe rumors, the A Levels are hearing stories. And some of those stories seem to have the word “guardians” in them. We read here and there, particularly in the last novel, that people at school, students and instructors alike, figured all this time that Annie and Kerry were spending together at the Witch House, or with the Head Sorceress at other locations, had something to do with Helena’s side profession. Here is the first confirmation that people in covens are talking and that stories are slipping to the new kids to watch out for the Lovey Dovey Couple, ’cause they just aren’t all they seem.
And does this bother Helena? Well…
Helena paid close attention to the other two Mórrígan coven members mentioned, Lito Echevarría, a boy from Belize, and Sophia Quirós, a girl from Venezuela, and she noticed how they appeared nearly as nervous as Misha. This made Helena wonder, first, who could be saying those things in the coven, and second, what exactly were they saying?
While it was true that the upper level students weren’t supposed to interfere with the A Levels adjusting to their new lives at school, it wasn’t always possible keep The Fishbowl separated from The Pond. There were always those chance meetings in The Rotunda or during the Midnight Madness, but the greatest possibility for an encounter was in the ground floor and mezzanine commons of each coven tower. While the older students were forbidden from doing anything to the A Levels that could be construed as bullying, it didn’t mean they didn’t offer warnings concerning some of their instructors, particularly during their first week.
And it wasn’t difficult for those warning to stretch the truth considerably—
Helena had heard nearly all the rumors concerning their Kansas City operation a year and a half earlier. By now everyone seemed to consider the cover story that Annie needed to return home due to a family emergency and Kerry needed to go to New York City for a medical checkup as one elaborate fable, but since no one who went on that Kansas City operation would confirm nor deny that they were engaged in a Guardian field op, the rumors remain nothing but rumors.
Now, however, an A Level was not only relating the rumor but they were mentioning the Guardians without knowing what they were saying. Of all the rumors that floated around the school, the possibility that Annie and Kerry were doing work for the Guardians was one that hadn’t been spoken aloud during the last school year. She was aware that a number of students suspected that the disappearance in April, 2012, had something to do with The Foundation’s intelligence service, but whenever the matter was brought up it was done so in hushed tones.
So she knows and it doesn’t seem to bother her that much, though the fact the A Levels are getting it this early is something of a concern. The real question is, how do Annie and Kerry handled this?
Helena turned towards her two minions. “You two know anything about this?”
The couple exchange looks before turning their attention Helena. Annie spoke first. “That weekend I was called home because my mother was extremely ill and she wanted me with her.”
Kerry nodded. “I had to go to New York; doctors there wanted to do a little work on my knee because of all the damage it’d gotten.”
“I see.” Helena did her best not to appear pleased that they were still sticking to the story nearly eighteen months later. “I guess that explains why you spent the night in the hospital, Kerry. What about you, Annie?”
Annie became slightly embarrassed. “When I was getting ready to come home, I tripped down the stairs leading from my bedroom, tumbled, and broke my arm. I had it fixed at a clinic near home and they decided I was well enough to travel, so I returned to Salem.”
“Is that why you stayed in the hospital that night?”
Annie shook her head. “I had a concussion as well: that’s why it was in the hospital.”
“Okay, then.” There was a slight grin on Helena’s face as she turned back to her new students. “See? Simple explanation for everything. Like I said, a lot of these rumors come up because it’s what students want to believe. It’s one of the oldest games as ever been played at the school, and I’m sure it’s going to continue on long after were all dead and gone.”
My two kids stand up in front of the class of newbies and lie their asses off with straight faces, because that’s what they were trained to do. And, of course, Helena is proud of their obsfucation. They were put on the spot and they stuck to their story and they didn’t seem to think it was that big of a deal: that’s the way a Guardian is supposed to act. Maybe this means that the class Helen is gonna give him a cookie–
Nah, they’re gonna get something else.