Here we are again, back on the blog, back on my story, back in the Witch House. While I’m writing about Kerry working the magic over on one side of the school, Annie is dealing with things on her side–
And tests may be among those things before her.
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)
Annie made her way to the back of the building, where the Witch House became a T-shape. She made her way to the foot of the staircase and stopped, looking up to the next floor. Half way up the staircase sat what appeared to be a solid wall of blackness; she knew this to be the enchantment that blocked access to the first floor. She considered walking up to the enchantment and seeing if she could pass through, but quickly realized that was the sort of test a Guardian might be given to see if they would fall for an obvious trap.
And she didn’t want to fall into a trap.
She ran a nail over her chin. I don’t believe Helena would set a trap for me, but I also don’t believe she would let me walk upstairs without putting me through some kind of test. It was then that Annie realized there was a rather simple way of handling the situation… “Sabrina?”
The holographic image of the school AI seemed to stand only two meters away. “May I be of assistance, Annie?”
Annie knows those tests rather well, considering that every day at Salem is like one big freaking test. But this is probably the first time she’s resorted to calling upon the school AI–and likely the first time Sabrina has appeared when called away from the covens. As we’ve seen in the last novel–and will see in this novel–Sabrina is the guardian to all the covens and allows the right students to come and go. She was the one who allowed Annie and Kerry access to Åsgårdsreia Tower when they visited Deanna to learn about The Three Bindings, and while she called them by their given names then, it was due then to Deanna’s instructions. This time, however, she’s addressing a student in a private moment and Annie is curious…
“You don’t often address students by their given names—” Annie cast a quizzical stare in the AI’s direction. “Why now?”
“I was instructed at beginning of the school year that, if we were in private, I was permitted to address you by your given name.” Sabrina clutched her hands together in front of her body. “And to save you the trouble of asking, I was instructed to do the same with Kerry.”
“Who gave you that instruction?”
“Isis. She’s the only one permitted to give me those instructions.”
“Did she do so on someone else’s authority?”
The right side of Sabrina’s mouth curled upward in a smile. “I’m not permitted to tell you.”
Annie didn’t need to question Sabrina any further on that last statement: she believed that if it had been Isis’ instruction alone the AI would have said no. Since she said she wasn’t permitted to say anything, this meant to Annie’s way of thinking that someone had. And I have a good idea as to the identity of that person—
Annie is pretty sure that Helena went to Isis and told her to set up the school AI to call out her favorite students by name if necessary, even if Sabrina isn’t programmed to say. Or maybe she doesn’t know–ah, scratch that. Sabrina knows. And she may be able to tell, but are you going to argue with the AI about their programming? No. You’ll lose. Move on.
Now, about that original question:
Annie pointed at the black enchantment. “Am I permitted to go upstairs?”
Sabrina nodded. “Of course.”
It only took a second for Annie to realize she’d asked the wrong question. Certainly she was permitted to go upstairs: that didn’t mean it was possible. “Let me rephrase the question: is it possible for me to walk all the way up to the first floor without removing this enchantment?”
The AI seemed to cast a sideways glance at the enchantment. “No, at present it’s active. If you were to walk into it at this moment you would receive a nasty shock.”
Hearing that she would receive a shock gave Annie a different view of the enchantment, which she had heard in the past acted as a physical barrier. “Can you deactivate the enchantment?”
This time Sabrina shook her head. “No, I can’t. I have no way of adjusting the amount of dark energy that goes into this particular enchantment.”
Annie gave the matter a few seconds of thought the nodded in the direction of the AI. “Thank you, Sabrina. You’ve been most helpful.” She placed her right foot on the first step. “I can take it from here.” Annie was on the third step when she noticed the AI was still in place. She stopped and leaned against the guardrail. “Why didn’t you leave when you were dismissed?”
Sabrina tilted her head slightly to the left and smiled. “I was informed it may be necessary to contact the hospital if you fail to make it through the enchantment.”
“Well, then—” Annie gave a hearty chuckle. “Let us both hope that call is it necessary.” She took three more steps before stopping directly in front of the black enchantment.
Yeah, it is a test. And Sabrina is hanging out to see if Annie needs an ambulance, which means someone else may be watching–
We already know Annie loves an audience.