Transforming the Imagined Past


Out of November and into December, and from here on out it’s a countdown to the end of 2015.  It’s also congratulations to all those who won NaNoWriMo 2015, and for those who didn’t, there’s always next year.  As for me, I reached 175,000 words on 1 November, and as of last night I’d written a total of 194,444 words, and as right around twenty thousand words a month is my average, I’m good with what I did, particularly when I remember there have been four or five days–like last night–where my output was not all that great.

I began a new chapter which means starting a new scene, and when it comes to starting one I usually spend a lot of time staring at the blank Scrivener text file wondering what the hell to put down on the sheet.  This is one of those scenes that, believe it or not, I plotted out oh so long ago, and I was really damned about what was going to happen in here.  Every so often that happens because these ideas come to me while I’m plotting things out, and then comes a point six months later where I reach a scene, and the first thought in my head is, “What the hell is gonna happen here?”  Because I don’t know.

See, I don’t always have the story written in my head before I write it down.

So while Taken 2 played in the background, and I had a pretty good loop of Tom Waits’ Hold On rolling in my earbuds, I tried to figure out how to start this scene.  Staring and listening and wondering–and that’s when it hits me.  See, during the day, while I was at work, I figured out what would happen in this scene.  I even played out some of it when I had a moment to myself, so the general ideas behind the scene–and the next two after that, I should point out–were now known.  Still, it’s hard to get the ball rolling–

So why not roll it with a look back?

This scene takes place in Transformation class, which means we’re now in Jessica’s World, and it’s the end of January, 2013, and she’s dealing with students who are back into the grind and maybe not having an easy time of things because of a certain deadline that’s coming down the line.  Which gives me ideas about her, and as I look at the page it becomes clear:  why not have a little of her backstory play out along with that of the school?

And that’s how I managed the following three hundred and ninety words for the start of the scene:


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

A month into the new calendar year and Professor Jessica Kishna was keenly aware of the stress many of her students were under. Sorcery class wasn’t the only one where a student’s performance over the next year was going to determine if they continued on with that particular line of magical training: Erywin was also turning up the pressure on her students, making her determinations on who was going to move on to C Level Formulistic Magic, who of that group she might consider for her advanced class, and who she would pass over, and while Wednesday always taught for levels of standard spells, it was during her C Levels classes that she offered additional work for those students who, while not necessarily up to the levels of those students in her Advanced Spells class, showed enough exceptional talent to warrant specific, and sometimes personal, consideration.

With January coming to an end nearly all the B Levels were realizing their return home and the subsequent unveiling to their parents as witches was not that far off in the future, and that was a another level of stress Jessica knew they didn’t need, but couldn’t easily remove. She remembered her own time so clearly: returning to Chicago on the afternoon of 1 June, 1984, and dreading every second of the car ride from O’Hare Airport to her home in The Island neighborhood between the South Austin community and Cicero. Then there was the walk up to the house that seemed to take forever before sitting down in the living room with her parents and two siblings, an older brother and younger sister. Before telling her family the truth about what she did at school, Jessica though she might actually faint from the building anxiety—

And few, if any of her current students, possessed the same control she had at their age. She wasn’t It was no wonder that about a third of her class found it difficult to concentrate, and transformation spells required tremendous concentration. There was a flip side to that equation, and it was that witches who became experts in transformation magic generally found themselves in situations where they were required to perform spells under all various levels of pressure, and now was as good a time to learn how to temper their reaction to this pressure as any . . .


There you have a little of Jessica’s backstory, including the real area of Chicago where she grew up.  If you look up The Island you’ll find it exactly where I said it’s located, just south of the Eisenhower Expressway and the CTA Blue Line.  The date is correct, too, because students filed out of school on that date in 1984, and as Jessica started her A Levels in 1982, she’d leave as a B Level on the date in this scene.

And while students might be under a lot of stress, she’s right:  there are more than a few who might find themselves doing magic under far more stressful situations that having to deal with their witchy coming out:

"Yeah, easy for you to say, Professor, you never had to worry about getting you iPad taken away because you came out!"

“Yeah, easy for you to say, Professor, you never had to worry about getting you iPad taken away because you came out!”

And speaking of those students who have done magic under far more stressful situations . . . two of them are in her class in this scene.

Which means I’ve done my job getting things set up.  Now to get them on stage–

A Kind of Magic

When the time comes I’m want to say, “Chapter So-and-So is history,” and that’s pretty much a given with Chapter Twenty-One.  I finished it last night about the time that I was down to T-minus thirty minutes before the last episode of The Walking Dead aired for 2015.  When I finished up writing last night, I discovered that my writing for the day produced one thousand, two hundred and thirty-four words, or 1,234 words, which is the first time that particular number combination has happened to me.

Here is the hello-goodbye image of Scrivener:

Hello Chapter Twenty-Two; goodbye Chapter Twenty-One.,

Hello Chapter Twenty-Two; goodbye Chapter Twenty-One.

And Chapter Twenty-Two doesn’t take place over a long period of time.  The first scene is a few days after the events shown before; and the second, third, and fourth come the following week.  But before I can get into those, I have to show you what happened on the rest of the walk to the tower.  And it’s good–


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

Annie turned to face Kerry. “She has you helping her, yes?”

Kerry took a moment before answering. “Yes.”

“Then she has nothing to fear, my love.” She traced small patterns in the skin under Kerry’s neck. “Just don’t show her anything more complicated that those spells.”

“Not a chance.” Kerry waved open the door to the coven tower’s lower levels. “You saw how she was in Sorcery last week; I don’t think I could ever teach her how to do a Morte spell.”


Right here Kerry pretty much puts the slam on his wingmate, and we gather that (1) Emma was a bit freaked out by trying to zap zombies, and (2) Kerry doesn’t think much of the idea of trying to level her up as a sorceress.  Think there was any chance Emma was gasping when Annie bled out her homunculus?  Ummm . . . probably.  But right here is confirmation that Kerry ain’t helping her with death spells unless he’s ordered.

Now they’re back in their tower–what next?


While the coven towers were always quiet after midnight, their lower levels were notorious for being eerily silent. They made their way through the bowels of the tower towards the stairs leading to the ground floor and were almost there when Annie brought Kerry to a halt. “Come here.” She tugged Kerry a few meters down a short corridor and stopped him before a door. “I want to go inside.”

Kerry opened the door and commanded the lights on inside their private lab as he led Annie inside. The door whisper closed behind them while they stood the small space that was given to them last year so they’d have a place to practice common spells without distractions. “We haven’t been here in a while.”

“No, we haven’t, my love.” Annie disengaged herself from Kerry and made her way to the sofa. “Please sit and keep me warm, moyata srodna dusha.”

Kerry joined her and slid back against the sofa arm so Annie could rest against him. “It’s nice having these late night moments.”

“Especially as we don’t have class tomorrow.” She touched his chin. “Just racing in the cold.”

“Yeah, well, I knew that was going to happen.” He raised her hand so he could kiss her fingers. “Did you speak with Helena while I was in class?”

“Yes, I did.”

“What did she say?”

“That she understood what happened to you during class the other day was a one-time thing—” She snuggled against Kerry’s body, getting comfortable. “She agreed with me that she doesn’t see this as a problem.”

“Good.” He wrapped his arms around Annie. “Because it won’t.”


Annie had her discussion that Kerry knew was coming, and it’s no biggie:  the Mistress of All Things Dark is sure Annie’s right, and there isn’t anything that going to cause Kerry any issues in the field–the next time they’re in the field, that is.  Which they’ve been promised won’t happen this year.

Now that Annie’s getting all cozy, what next?  Well . . .


“I know it won’t.” She held out her left arm and a second later the comforter and pillows they’d requested last winter and kept set in the corner of the lap floated towards her. She pulled a pillow out of mid-air and handed to Kerry while she spread the comforter over them. Once they were covered and comfortable she ordered the lights into into night mode, throwing them into darkness with just indirect illumination to keep the room from becoming pitch dark.

Annie slid up until her head was on the pillow and she was face-to-face with Kerry. “There, my love: right where I want you.”

“I figured that was what you had in mind when we came here.” They embraced for almost ten seconds, their thoughts on each other as they once again grew warm under their comforter. “I didn’t think you wanted to do spells.”

“Oh, you never know—” Annie giggled coyly. “Maybe I wanted to do magic.”

Kerry kissed the tip of her nose. “That special kind of magic?”

“One day; I’m not ready for that yet.” She lightly brushed his lips with hers. “But I do want to sleep with you, my love. I want you to keep me warm.”

He was aware they were once more skirting with danger by doing something that would likely get their detention if they were caught, but he wanted to sleep next to Annie as much as she wanted to spend the evening with him. “I can’t say no to you, Sweetie.”

“I know, my love.” She twisted around so her back was pressed against Kerry. “We’ll be back up to our rooms before anyone knows.”

“Um, hum.” He draped his left arm over Annie. “Months almost over. One down, four to go.”

“Don’t think about that—think about our time together.” She closed her eyes and exhaled slow and content. “Think about me; think about us. Think of our love.” She smiled as she took her own advice. “There is nothing but good ahead of us, my love. Nothing but good.”


These two:  they should get a room.  Oh, wait–They Did!  But, still:  they’re still a lovely couple, and they know being together, like this, is all they need.  Besides, Annie says no to the special magic, and that means Kerry will agree because he can’t say no to her.  One of these days these kids are gonna get caught, but since it appears that all just about everyone knows they’re sneaking off to have a private moment together now and then, maybe no one is a hurry to catch them–

So, nothing but good ahead of them–

Yeah, Annie, about that . . .

The Underground Warmth

The long weekend is nearly over, and for once I haven’t spent nearly twenty hours driving a couple of thousand kilometers to and from The Burg.  Even so, I haven’t written a huge amount, though I suppose a few thousand words in three days time isn’t that bad.  I’ve done better, but there were times when I did far worse.

But now the last scene of Chapter Twenty-One is here, and after an evening and a morning that scene is almost almost eleven hundred words long.  It’s the after math of the previous scene, though it takes play a long time after that scene finishes.  Where are we?  Back in the Midnight Madness–or, I should say, at the end of that Madness . . .


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

Kerry calmly opened his eyes as he was shaken back to consciousness. His first thought was Annie was waking him, but in moments he saw she was still laying between him and the back of the sofa. He was about to close his eyes once more when he was shook once more, and this was enough to get him to roll over and begin sitting up. He rubbed his eyes as he looked up. “Hi, Professor.”

Jessica Kishna gingerly set down on the edge of the coffee table. “Morning. I hate to wake you up just to send you off to bed again, but it’s twenty after midnight and we’re shutting down the Madness. You both need to head back to your tower.”

Kerry retrieved his glasses from the side table and slipped them on. “Sure thing, Professor.”

Jessica didn’t seem in a hurry to leave, however. She looked at the blankets that still covered most of the two children. “You guys were under two comforters tonight.”

“Yeah, well . . .” He stretched his shoulders. “We were really cold flying today.”

“I can imagine.” Jessica looked at the still-sleeping Annie. “Did she do well today on her solo?”

“Annie did better than well—” Kerry shifted around so he could smile down on his sleeping soul mate. “She was fantastic.”


Jessica being friendly and nice is something that hasn’t come up that much; most of the time when we’ve seen her she’s been in the running for the title of Queen Bitch of Salem, one which has apparently been coveted by Helena for some time.  Then again, Kerry, nor Annie, aren’t just another B Level couple struggling through their spells.  With these two she can afford to let down her armor just a little, particularly when no one else is watching.

Once Jessica is on her way Kerry goes about the task of waking up his soul mate.  And we find out that not only does he know more choise Bulgarian phrases, but Annie is still a tough one to wake:


Kerry grabbed Annie’s robe from near their feet and lay it across his lap before leaning close to Annie’s face. “Time to wake up.” He placed a soft kiss on her left cheek. “Sŭbudi se, skŭpa.”

While her eyes remained close, a slight smile began forming upon her face. However, Annie wasn’t quite awake— “Moyata lyubov, spish s men.” She sighed softly. “Nakaraĭ me topli s teb obicham.”

Since Kerry had no idea what Annie had said—he recognized only a few words—but he managed to understand the gist of her mumbling. Still, he knew that Jessica wasn’t one to bend the rules for them as Helena and Erywin had done before, so it was necessary to get Annie back to the towers. “Come on, my lovely girl.” He kissed her again. “Wakey, wakey.”

Annie’s eyes opened enough to see Kerry’s smile face centimeters away from hers. “I love being awoken by your kisses.”

Kerry pulled back a little so Annie wasn’t staring herself cross-eyed. “Well, one day—” He traced her left jaw line. “You’ll get it when you’re not giving them to me.”

“Oh, I can’t wait.” She sat up slowly and stretched. “What time is it?”


Needless to see, Annie’s comments are sorta . . . well, let’s just say when Annie is feeling loved, she has love on her mind.  Kerry’s only partially sure of what she said, but you can bet he’s a lot closer in his understanding of her words than someone who doesn’t understand Bulgarian.

They leave the Dining Hall and head back to the tower along a route they don’t normally use.


Their departure from the last of the Midnight Madness differed from their past departures. Because the outside wind chill was near minus twenty Celsius, instead of taking the outside route back to Carnunnos Coven, they headed directly to the stairs on the east side of the Rotunda and made their way to the lower levels of the Great Hall. They wound their way through the dimly lit corridors until they came to the tunnel that led to the lower level of the Pentagram Walls and the coven tower.

The entire length of the tunnel was deserted. Kerry expected this: it was a rare occasion when Annie and he shared a walk back to the tower with fellow covenmates. They made they way in silence, Annie pressed against Kerry as they walked, her robe secured tight. They were nearly two-thirds of the way along the passage before she spoke. “It’s been quite the day.”

“That it has.” Kerry released Annie’s hand and wrapped his arm over her shoulder. “Vicky and Isis were really happy about your solo flight.” He kissed her forehead. “Hit all your marks perfectly.”

“I know the next one is going to be tougher—” She sighed and rested her head against Kerry. “But that’s not going to happen for another month, so no point in worrying about it now. How was flight class?”

“Good. Next camping flight is this coming Thursday, and a lot of people nervous.”

“Do you know where you’re camping, my love?” Annie hadn’t given much thought to Kerry’s next overnight flight due to concentrating on her own solo flight.

“Lake Mansfield, up in Vermont. We’ve been told the snowfall is good, so we’ll get to see what it’s like setting up in arctic conditions.”


First, the tunnel walk.  By now we have a pretty good idea of what The Pentagram looks like from above:

Here's the walk we all know and love.

Here’s the walk we all know and love.

Right now, however, the wind chill is -20 C, and that’s cold.  Given that they’ve always spend a ton of time out in that sort of cold, they decide to take a slightly warmer route.

They night not get a good view of the sky, but they're not freezing right now.

They night not get a good view of the sky, but they’re not freezing right now.

They can walk straight back to the tower underground, and just like above ground it’s quiet and secluded.  By the way, the tunnel to the right is the one Wednesday flew down when she left The Pentagram to help with with the defense of the school during the Day of the Dead.  That’s the passage that was built to reach the tunnel system heading south, the one that was later excavated to become The Chunnel.

And here we hear of Kerry’s next overnight training flight in perpetration for next year’s Polar Express.  It starts on the last Thursday of the month–31 January, 2013–and has the students returning to the school the next night, 1 February, just in time for the Imbolc feast, and do we remember what happened after the last Imbolc feast?  I sure do, and you can be Helena does, too.

Where is the camp out going this time?  Well, up here:

Just down the road from Stowe--can you imagine these witches on the slopes?

Just down the road from Stowe–can you imagine these witches on the slopes?

In the image above the lake is just below the “Mt. Mansfield State Forest” legend, and given that the lake is fifteen hundred feet, or about four hundred and thirty meters, above sea level, there’s gonna be snow.  And it’s not gonna be that long of a haul to get there–

A lot closer than central Maine, that's for sure.

A lot closer than central Maine, that’s for sure.

Two hundred and seventy kilometers, which means they can get there in a little over an hour.  Assuming it’s not bone-chilling cold that night they leave.  Which it might be.  Maybe that’s what’s making students a little worried?


“Why are people nervous?” Given what Kerry told her after the last flight, she had her suspicions about why some students in Advanced Flight One felt nervous.

“Because Vicki’s still pissed about how the last flight went. She told us today that she felt most of the class wasn’t up to speed on being able to navigate using maps and visual references, and told everyone she was gonna grade hard on this flight.” He chuckled darkly. “She pulled Emma and me aside and said we’re not going to fly a single leg this time out, that we proved we know our stuff, and said if she has to turn to us, it’s because everyone else has screwed things up beyond any hope of recovery.”

“That’s what I expected. I’m sure Vicky’s comments were reassuring.”

“To me, yeah, but Emma?” He shook his head. “She keeps screwing up the Fire spell, and she can’t do a Compress spell at all.” The reached the end of the Great Hall tunnel and stopped just before the doorway to the Pentagon Wall passage. “She’s freaking out that she’s not gonna get proficient on either before the last overnight flight, and she’ll scrub out for The Polar Express.”


Hummmm . . . I wonder what Annie thinks about the possibility of Emma washing out of The Polar Express, and not being able to spend at least a couple of days and nights alone with Kerry.  I’m sure she’ll say that she knows Kerry won’t do a thing even if Emma does, and that Emma knows she’s gonna have to spend some . . . alone time with Annie . . . should she does something stupid, like hit on Kerry.  Then again, Annie probably has a curse or two she’s ready to lay on Emma just before Team Myfanwy heads off to the wilds of Canada, so it’s likely she has all her bases covered no matter what.

There’s more to come, and I should get to that this afternoon.  After a nap.  And while the zombie fun run is on the telly . . .

Witches Over Salem: the Delayed Discussion

For a while I didn’t think I was going to make it through the day:  I’d lost all my internet and cable at the apartment, and it was a dull time with nothing but my writing and napping to keep me occupied.  Fortunately I took a long nap in the afternoon–almost ninety minutes–and not long after waking the television started working, and about two minutes after that the internet came back.  Huzza!

Then I managed to get back into my writing–because without music, Cassie is a dull girl when she writes–and I finished the scene while drinking a Game of Thrones Take the Black Stout:

You know nothing about drinking, Jon Snow

You know nothing about drinking, Jon Snow

And then, between moments of trying to work out what to say next, I decided to figure out how to take pictures without using a flash and manged a few off my balcony:

What you see without me--

What you see without me–


And what you see with me.

And what you see with me.

And between all this BS I managed to finish out the scene with another five hundred words, making my total for yesterday around seven hundred and twenty-five words.  Now all that remains is one scene, and I should knock that off today, which means by tomorrow Chapter Twenty-One will be a done deal.  And the next chapter should see me finally pushing the novel over two hundred thousand words, and means I’ll finish up this novel in another twenty-five thousand words.  Right?  Right . . .

Now, what happens with my kids while they’re sitting way up over the city of Salem talking.  If you sit tight, I’m gonna let them tell ya . . .


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

Kerry chuckled while shaking his head. “You get used to it, but you don’t like it. You seem to be doing okay, though.”

“I’m a mountain girl; ten below isn’t that unusual for me.”

“What about the thirty below?” He leaned towards her as much as he could without off-balancing the broom. “I noticed you slowly down a little here and there.”

Annie said nothing for a few seconds. “You were right about the cold building up around you: it gets a bit oppressive after a while.” She slowly spun to her right, looking out towards the ocean. “The view is magnificent up here.”

Kerry couldn’t disagree with his soul mate’s statement. The clear sky allowed them to see dozens of kilometers in every direction, and not only was the whole of Salem laid out below them, but Beverly and most of the small towns were visible to the north, Marblehead and the north Boston neighborhoods were clear off to the south, and Manchester, Gloucester, and most of Cape Ann were clear in the east. Kerry even saw planes taking off from Logan, launching north-northwest into the wind before turning on to their proper headings. “It is beautiful today.” He rubbed his nose with his right mitten. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day to fly.”


I’ve already shown one image of what their scene looks like to the north, and I also have similar images for the east–

Though we're looking more out to sea and not towards the school.

If you look hard enough you can almost see the school–if you were a witch, that is.

And another off to the south:

And right there in the middle of the picture is there favorite Starbucks.

And right there in the middle of the picture is their favorite Starbucks.

If there is any question about how far they can see, I did consult the Distance to the Horizon Calculator, which allows one to plug in an altitude and tells a person just how far they can see on a clear, clear day.  The kids are sitting eight hundred meters over the train station, and according to the calculator they can see one hundred and one kilometers.  The school is twenty-five kilometers away, so their sharp little eyes would see it pretty well.

Now that the travelogue is out of the way, let’s get to what’s on someone’s mind–


“I hope they’re all like this . . .” Annie finished her slow spin and faced Kerry. “May I ask something?”

“Sure. You can always ask me anything.”

“What happened during our Morte demonstration last week?”

Since the moment when Helena asked him pretty much the same thing in the aftermath of his demonstration last Thursday, Kerry expected Annie to ask the same. He knew she wouldn’t ask right away—that wasn’t her style—but he knew the question was coming because Annie had to ask. I know she tells Helena stuff about me, because it concerns my training; it’s the same thing I do with Jessica when I have to tell her how Annie’s doing our transformations lessons. “You mean when I froze for a few seconds?”


This is the first time we get any conformation that Kerry is having discussions with Jessica about Annie and her transformation instruction.  So Annie confers with Helena, and Kerry confers with Jessica, and both the little witches have to be completely honest about the abilities of the other to instructors who are considered the toughest and most intimidating at the school.  Though it’s never been shown, one would have to know by now that Annie told Kerry not to hold anything back, and to be honest about her instruction, because Jessica was going to know if Kerry were fibbing about Annie’s lessons.

No, not a lot of pressure at all.

Now that Kerry has been asked, and has known the question is coming, he readies his answer . . .


She nodded. “Yes.”

He slid his broom forward so he was not only as close as he could get to Annie without having her rest against him, but he managed to block the wind that was blowing into her face. “I froze for a second because the girl zombie reminded me of someone.”

Annie immediately knew of the person to whom Kerry was referring. “The girl from your dreams, right?”

“Yeah. The moment I saw the ginger hair I just—” He drew in a breath as he looked off to his left. “It was like there was something in the back of my head that was telling me something—” He shrugged and turned back to Annie. “I have no idea what it was.” He sighed. “It was a one-time thing: it won’t happen again, because I know not to let it happen.”

Though she didn’t show anything, Annie found his comments interesting. This girl was in his rune dream trying to tell him about me; what is she trying to tell him now? “Have you had anymore dreams about her?”


Yeah, what is that girl trying to tell Kerry?  But does Annie look bovvered?  Well . . . maybe?  And since she wants to know if that ginger-haired dream creature has appeared again . . .


“No, not a one.” He elaborated when he saw Annie was about to ask another question. “I promised I would tell you if I saw her again, and I’m keeping that promise. If I saw her, I’d tell you the next morning.”

This was all the explanation Annie need. “I believe you.” She floated a little closer and touched his hand. “There’s no need to discuss this any further.”

There was something Kerry needed to know, however. “What are you going to tell Helena?”

Annie wasn’t going to lie to the most important person in her life. “I’m going to tell her—when she asks, mind you—that what happened resulted due to a specific trigger; that you recognized that trigger; and that you won’t let it happen again.” She bowed her head slightly as she kept her eyes locked on Kerry’s. “It’s nothing any of us should consider a problem.”

He nodded slowly. “Does that mean I’m still Guardian material?”

“Oh, my love—” She floated the rest of the way and hugged her soul mate high above the City of Witches. “You’re always been Guardian material. The only one you’ve needed to convince of that fact is you.”


Annie’s happy with Kerry’s explanation, and she’s not worried that this is a one of those freakouts that’s going cause a problem if they’re out in the field–say, tomorrow–and the shit once again hits the magical fan.  He’ll do his duty, and that’s that.  No more to discuss, and they can finish out the rest of Annie’s first solo flight in peace.

There you have it, the full finished scene–

See, only one more scene--

And see, only one more scene–

–In this chapter, I should say.  Chapter Twenty-Two awaits, and after that comes Part Seven, Elements of Joy and Terror, and that, my friends, is where things really start to get serious . . .

The Hard and the Soft of It

Hola, survivors of U.S. Thanksgiving.  I made it through the day yesterday, heading down to Maryland to relax with friends, then back up to The Burg for a late-night brow waxing before heading home to call family.  Yes, busy day all around.

And you know what that means:  no writing.  Not yet, at least.  I did it yesterday morning, and you saw that, but I didn’t write before going to bed because I was just too tired.  Now, since I had a two hours drive down yesterday, and two hours back, I had plenty of time to figure out things with my kids, and even lay down a couple of scenes, one of which will get played out in the next book.  Wait, am I really talking next book?  Yeah, I am.  I’m strange that way.

I also started thinking about Motre spells and how they could be looked at in the same way martial arts is examined.  Why is this and what am I talking about?  First, they why, and it came from a comment from my friend and fellow blogger renxkyoko, who made this statement the other day:


Just a lame observation……

Annie’s is more feminine…. I mean, ribbons ? He he
And Kerry’s is manly…. I mean, a sword ?
I guess it’s natural instinct. They gravitate towards what they prefer, deadly shadow ribbons for a girl, and a sword for the guy.


Now, I don’t see those as either feminine or masculine traits, because a lot of women in fiction where fighting is involved use swords–several animes would tell you so, I’m sure–whereas there are certain martial arts films where you see guys doing a lot of deflecting and misdirection.  And this is where I start looking at Morte spells where they are seen as hard and soft disciplines.

To lay it out quick and dirty, a hard martial arts style is often defined as power coming from the outside the individual, using fast, strong, direct attacks against your opponent, while a soft martial arts style is usually defined as power coming from within, using relaxed, slow, indirect defense against your opponent.  In terms of martial arts, Shaolin Kung Fu, Eskrima, and Karate would be considered hard styles, while Tai Chi, Aikido, and Hsing-I are considered soft styles.

The different spells are used different ways, just as in martial arts you have different ways of pretty much doing the same thing.  When Annie did her Morte demonstration she used ribbons to bind–soft restraint there–and then used magic to turn one’s body against itself:  in short, she bleed out her opponent.  She could be seen as a practitioner of a soft style that didn’t require any outside attacks, and given that her signature Morte spell is Exsanguination, the way she goes about killing someone isn’t going to be all that flashy or noticeable:  just look at how she took out the female Deconstructor during the Link Bridge battle.

Kerry went full-on external using Electrify as his signature spell, and even went a step further by showing he could craft an electrical sword.  We can guess why he started learning Electrify:  because he’d seen it used within various entertainments in geek culture, and if you haven’t figured it out, that’s also one of the reasons he was initially drawn to transformation as a magical form as well.  At this point in his schooling Kerry is going with what he’s seen, knows, and loves, but he’s still young–I mean, he’s not even a teenager yet, right.

At the same time the kids known how to change up their styles.  First, look at how Annie fought her Judgement Trial.  Everything was external, full of deadly Air Hammers and an Electrify kill shot.  She had to because there wasn’t room for subtlety:  it was go or blow, and Annie doesn’t not blow when it comes time to show her stuff.  She also had a point to prove:  mess with me and I’ll put you down hard.  It was a bit different from the point she made in her Morte demonstration, which was, “If I want to take you out, you won’t see me coming.”

Kerry is still learning his styles, but now that he’s learning Exsanguination he’ll change up when the need arises.  Remember, Annie’s had a few years to develop her signature Morte spell:  Kerry’s only been working on this stuff for about a year.  When he took out the homunculi during his Exsanguination training it became an “Ah, ha!” moment for him, when he learned that for some spells overthinking–or over attacking–isn’t what’s needed; sometimes you just kick back, flick your finger at someone, and let the magic do the rest.  Now, Helena mentioned that Kerry knows the same stuff as Annie, but you can bet all his fellow B Levels remembered from that class is how he lobbed a zombie head in their direction.

And one last thing that I find interesting.  Helena has been played up as a major bad ass, and rightfully so.  And yet, we know Kerry has killed someone, Annie has as well, so has Erywin, and it’s been implied that Maddie and Jessica killed people during the Day of the Dead attack.  Now, we’ve heard that Helena has killed people, but have you seen her throw a Morte spell?  No.  One day I’ll have to write up the time she killed a student . . .

So, there are my musings for the day.  Tomorrow I’ll have more for you to read–

And I expect this to be the look on some faces while they do.

And I expect this to be the look on some faces while they do.

Demonstrations of Death: Observations in the Quiet

Finally, finally, finally, after four days and just a little over as many thousands of words as that, this fourth scene of the twenty-first chapter is over and done.

See, I don't lie. Not about this. Usually.

See, I don’t lie. Not about this. Usually.

So we get to the end of this cavalcade of blood–and it was bloody, and probably done that way for a reason, because my kids do know how to make a point when they put their minds to it–and Helena is one happy Mistress of All Things Dark.  Well, she’s almost completely happy, and you’ll see why–


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

Helena waited for some silence to return—and for the multiple instances of retching to subside—before speaking. “That wasn’t expected.” She gave the boy a lopsided smile as he turned towards her, the lightning sword still glowing in his hand. “Quite the move, too: I’d never seen that.”

Annie clutched her hands and rested them against her tummy. “He stared working on that beginning of December.” She appeared quite proud. “Said he wanted to have it perfected before the end of this month.”

“I’d say he’s succeeded there.” Helena approached him slowly. “Guess we’re going to have to get you some Jedi robes.”

Kerry made the sword disappear. “I actually learned that from an old anime—” He looked down, away from Helena. “I’ve only seen Star Wars a couple of times.”

“Still, it’s a good variation of Electrify.” Helena shook her head, chuckling. “You can always use another weapon—” She stepped between Kerry and his levelmates: the only one who could see them clearly was Annie since she was standing a few meters away from the others. She lowered her voice so Kerry was the only one who could hear. “You okay?”


First off, the fact that Kerry hasn’t seen Star Wars that much may seem strange, but there are some of us in that bucket.  (waving hands here).  Second, he’s right when he says he got the light sword from an old anime, because–of course–I know what anime he got it from.  That would be Tenchi Muyo!, the story of the most sexually repressed teenage boy in Japan and the extremely attractive and slightly psychotic girls who want to be his OTP.  It started out as an OVA, which I have, and then branched out into several variations of the same story, which is not all that unusual when it comes to anime.

He got the idea from Ryoko, the aqua haired–yes, again with the aqua hair!–space pirate who, in the OVA, is imprisoned inside a cave on Tenchi’s grandfather’s property, and who is eventually released and who is probably responsible for ninety percent of the crazy shit that happens to the boy.  She can make swords out of energy–check for Kerry–and throw energy balls–another check–and can fly–okay, not so much a check for him, but right up Annie’s alley–

And she has cleavage, which is a must for all young anime space pirates.

And she has cleavage, which is a must for all young anime female space pirates, but isn’t something Kerry needs.

She’s also deeply in love with Tenchi, and wants more than anything to be with him–a check for Kerry in relating to Annie–and is extremely open emotionally–another huge check for Kerry.

She's also tried to kill him with energy blast, something Annie hasn't tried yet with Kerry.

She’s also tried to kill him with energy blasts, something Annie hasn’t tried yet with Kerry.

By the way, until I found this gif I’d forgotten this scene–the OVA is from 1992 and I haven’t seen it in fifteen years–and I realize that’s a pretty good approximation of Annie’s “kill shot”, though Annie needs to work up the power a bit more than Ryoko and she uses both hands to focus and fire.  By the way, Ryoko’s name is spelled using an unusual kanji, and generally translates as “Bringer of Demons,” though in the OVA it’s stated as meaning, “The Devil Caller”.  That’s not a check for Kerry because he’s not a devil caller–yet.

So why all the concern, Helena?  Well . . .


His gaze shot up from the floor and froze upon the sorceress’ face. “Yeah, I’m good.”

“You sure?” Since Kansas City Helena made a point of reviewing all of the training video of these two, paying particular attention to Kerry’s training. She was aware he’d “had a problem” during the fight on the Link Bridge, and she accepted Annie’s explanation that Kerry had over-thought the situation and tried to split up his actions instead of going on the attack.

Since then she’d watch him learn when to defend and when to attack, and Helena was satisfied that any situations like the one that arose in Kansas City wouldn’t happen again. However, she’d seen his reaction after he set his sights on the girl homunculus, and it puzzled her. He hadn’t froze out of indecision; Helena felt it was more like the homunculus had triggered something, though she couldn’t imagine what— I have to be certain he’s okay: I can’t have this being a problem, not if The Guardians decide to renege on their promise and whistle up a field op this spring.

Kerry nodded. “Yes, Professor.” He glanced over his shoulder at the headless body of the homunculus. “For a moment there—” He looked down, though he was chuckling instead of appearing pensive. “It was like I flashed on something for a second that kinda just . . . pulled me away.”  As he looked up he nodded slightly.  “It’s not a big deal; it’s not gonna happen–”  He nodded towards the wall to his left.  “–out there.”

Helena didn’t question what had happened—at least she wasn’t going to do so now. Annie saw this; I know she’ll ask him at some point. She patted him on the shoulder as her voice returned to a normal tone. “Okay, good job.” She tossed her head to the left. “Go join your SO and give her a hug.”

“Thank you, Professor.” Kerry did as ordered and carried out both request.


This is the first indication that Helena is monitoring their progress, that she not only aware of what went down during the Link Bridge Battle and that she’s spoken with Annie about it, but that she’s concerned that Kerry might do the same thing again were they out in the field and the shit hits the fan.  But she trusts his explanation, and she also knows Annie will get to the bottom of this as well, and give Helena a report.  Not because Annie’s a little snitch, but because, once more, her eyes are on the prize, and that means training up here Dark Witch to be the best.

This leaves up with nothing but cleanup and the notice that not everyone in the room is cut out for the Sorcesses’ Life–


“There you are.” Helena turned her attention back to the rest of the students. “That’s how you do Morte, and one day some of you may be able to do the same as my minions.” She turned towards Lisa, who was doing her best to slide unseen into the background. “Once again you questioned the abilities of your levelmates, and you got your ass handed back to you.” Helena flashed two fingers. “That’s your second strike; there won’t be a third.” She finally noticed Gavino, the Italian boy from Blodeuwedd, lying on the floor. “He fainted? Really?”

Shadha Kanaan nodded. “Yes, Professor.”

“Okay, get his feet elevated—” She finally noticed the students who’d thrown up, the various sports of vomit on the floor, and the head of homunculus laying close by. “Everyone who got sick, lay down against the wall.” She flicked the head away, sending it to rest next to its body. “I’ll get a nurse down here to see to you.” She turned to Annie and Kerry. “While we’re waiting head over to The Manor and get cleaned up. I’ll have Housekeeping—”

“That’s okay, Professor.” A satisfied smirk settled upon Annie’s face. “I’m fine like this.”

Helena’s right eyebrow shot upward. “What about you, Kerry?”

Though he wasn’t quite as messy as Annie, his face and clothes were covered with their fair share of blood. “I’m okay.” He smiled broadly before shrugging. “Blood’s kinda of an occupational hazard for some people in The Foundation, right?”

It took every gram of willpower the Head Sorceress possessed to keep from laughing. “Yes, that is certainly true.”


Never let it be said Annie and Kerry haven’t started coming into their own by (1) getting ready to help out in the class, while (2) being bloody as hell, (3) learning this same Morte spell at the same time–assuming they haven’t already–and (4) probably chuckling darkly at the mayhem they helped create.  And they got Lisa in trouble again, which is always a plus.

Now on to the Penultimate scene, and it shouldn’t be that long, at least I don’t think so–

I’m kinda up in the air about it.

Demonstrations of Death: An Electrifying Performance

So a quick one today this morning, ’cause I’m running behind schedule a little here–between this getting ready in the morning stuff and trying to get so many things finished before heading out the door to work, I don’t seem to have a much time in the mornings as before.  Getting dressed and getting my makeup on does seem to take a lot more time than before, when I used to throw on a couple of things and head out the door.  Sigh.  Don’t remind me that I chose the Vag Life.

Anyway, it’s time for Annie’s Soul Mate to get up and do his thing, and let’s see how that went–


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

It took a few minutes for Helena to juant away the body and have a couple of APs from Housekeeping clean up the mess left behind by the bleed out. She didn’t check on the condition of her students: they were seeing things that she’d grown into at a much younger age, and if they wanted to learn about Morte spells, then they were gonna have to deal with what the spells did, and the aftermath. They got a taste of this last year in Ramona’s class— The floor cleared and housekeeping departed. They didn’t handle it well then, which means they probably aren’t going to handle it well now . . . “Okay, Kerry: you ready?”

He nodded then gave the still slightly bloody Annie a hug before walking out to where his soul mate had stood only minutes before. “You want Electrify, Professor?”

“Yes, I do. However, let’s change things up a bit.” She tapped the display and two cabinets popped into position where the one had appeared for Annie.

He turned around, his head cocked slightly to one side. “I get two?”

“I’ve heard that Annie can handle two—” Helena gave Kerry a wink. “You wanna show her you can, too. Don’t you?”

He exhaled and smiled. “Sure.” Kerry spun around and faced his soon-to-be targets. “I’m ready.”

“Then here they come.”

Both cabinet doors snapped open at the same time, and both homunculus shambled out and made their way forward. Kerry felt his excitement begin rising and quickly he forced it down, setting himself to concentrate. His targets were much like Annie’s: zombie trackers about his age and size, both attired in Salem school uniforms, the one on his left a boy and the other on his right a—

Something ‘caused Kerry to close his eyes and shake his head; when he opened them the snarling fake walkers were less than three meters away and closing. He let out a short gasp as he realized his situation. How long were my eyes closed?


Now don’t get worried here, because Kerry makes a really nice recovery–


Kerry stepped to his left as he raised his right hand and rapidly crafted a Electrify shot, firing it off when the boy zombie was only about a meter away and reaching for him. He half-extended his hand and fired a bolt of blueish electrical energy into the throat and chest of the homunculus while taking two steps to his left to keep the girl zombie at a safe distance. The three second blast blackened the boy zombie’s shirt, jacket, and skin; before he dropped the spell the shirt caught fire and began burning the homunculus’ chin and face. He gave the staggering homunculus another electrical shot to the face and Air Hammered it hard: the upper half of the burning, damaged body ripped open jetting blood in several directions, with one of the sprays catching Kerry on this left side of his face and chest. He hit it with another Air Hammer, blasting it out of the way before it could become a messy obstacle.

With one undead creature out of the way, Kerry crafted a ball of energy in his left hand and prepared to take on the long haired zombie intent on biting him. Two meters away the homunculus raised its arms and reached for her target; Kerry closed his hand around the ball, turning it into a glowing blue-white pole a couple of centimeter across and a meter long, with three-quarters of the emerging from beyond his clenched fist. With a growl he shoved the electrical sword into the chest of the girl zombie, pushing he backwards as the smell of burning flesh began wafting away from the battle.

Kerry gave his sword a hard thrust and pushed it out the zombie’s back, scorching her jacket and crimson hair. He came face-to-face with this growling creature, grinning wildly, then jerked the sword down and to the left, ripping open the chest just below the zombie’s right arm. Ignoring the fresh blood pumping from the open wound, Kerry pivoted slightly to his left, then brought the sword around in a vicious forearm swing. He caught the girl homunculus just below the jaw, slicing through the neck and sending the head sailing towards Kerry’s levelmates. It landed with a thud that was barely heard over the screeching of several students.


I tried to find a nice image of a head flying through the air, but instead here's the story.  You can imagine the head on your own.

I tried to find a nice image of a head flying through the air, but instead here’s the story. You can imagine the head on your own.

It would seem that Annie and Kerry have learned a few tricks in Ramona’s Sunday morning class, and it’s paying off nicely, because Kerry wouldn’t have learned any of those neat tricks back in Cardiff public school.  Also, their styles are a lot different, but then so is their magic: from a martial arts point of view, Exsanguination could be seen as an internal discipline, while Electrify is always more external unless you’re already at Helena’s level.  And I should time line these both out, but all opponents were “dead” in under ten seconds.  That’s some quick dispatching.

Tonight I will finish up this scene and evaluate if I need to modify the next couple of scenes–because, really, they’re starting to bother me.  I’ll explain later.