Minioning the Dark Way: Viewing the Fishbowl

Okay, so little update on personal side first.  I’ve pretty much gotten over whatever was affected me yesterday.  My throat is still kind of raw and I still feel a little weak, but all of the cold and flu symptoms have vanished.  So unless I come down with a relapse of something today, my trip to DC tomorrow is guaranteed.  I will be up at four AM; I will be on the bus at six; I will be in Washington by nine.  They need to pick up a few things tonight and lay out my attire for tomorrow, but that’s it.  All remains now is to get through the next twenty-four hours healthy.

Needless to say I went to days straight without writing.  I believe I’ve only done that once before in the last three and a half years, though this time it didn’t feel the least bit guilty about it.  Most of what I did yesterday was lay in my recliner and listen to music, because I didn’t have the energy to do much of anything else.  I’ll probably do a little writing tonight, because if I don’t I won’t get to it until Sunday, and I’ve never went four days in a row without writing.  Though this likely be a few hundred words, but that’s better than nothing.

Where does that put us now?  Well, it brings us to the last scene of Chapter Eight, but since this scene was seven thousand words in length, and some farm over a thousand words in the next scene, I’m still a thousand words ahead of you.  So I’m not sweating that you catching up to me to fast, as to go through this next scene will likely take the better part of six or seven days.

We’re going out to the Witch House, and it’s time for Annie and Kerry to do the minioning job they were told they were going to have to do from time to time.  Annie and Kerry are skilled students, but they’re also teenagers.  And as such they are not completely immune to the follies of being a teenager…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

So much changed in the last few days. Monday had been hot and muggy, but now it was Thursday and nine degrees Celsius cooler and most of the morning had been taken up with a light rain in the grounds being covered in mist. After spending nearly two years living at near sea level Annie had come to understand that the weather near the ocean changed as often and as unpredictably as it did in the mountains.

What she felt was even more unpredictable, though, was the intention of Professor Lovecraft.

After three days of classes Kerry and she had looked forward to taking Thursday off. As it was the first week of school, they both figured that they wouldn’t be needed for minion work in either B or A Level Sorcery. And they were nearly right: neither had received a message asking him to show for B Level Sorcery, upon which they assumed they would soon receive a similar message telling them not to show up for the afternoon class.

They were both incorrect, however. Upon sitting down for lunch Zora Gronowski approached them and let them know that a message had been left by Helena indicating they were to appear for the afternoon sorcery class—and they were to appear in uniform. Neither care to hear this last-minute news as they had been relaxing in street clothes all morning, and now it became necessary for them to return to the coven tower after they ate, change into their school uniform, and make their way to the Witch House.

It wasn’t really that big of a deal to change into her school uniform, but Annie knew they’d have few days like this throughout the school year and they both hope to take advantage of the ones they did have. After they had changed and they were heading down the stairs to the coven ground floor commons, Kerry remarked that he felt bad getting pissy because he thought he been acting like a privileged upper-level school kid. Annie agreed and they put the minor aggravation behind them as they flew from The Pentagram to the Witch House.

 

It’s not at all unusual to feel upset that your plans went awry.  And given that Annie and Kerry are going to have little precious free time this year, they felt the sting of having to actually “work” at them a little harder.  And being teenagers they get socks with those crazy hormones little harder than adults, which causes them to act even more rationally at times.  Yes, Kerry was right to feel bad that they were acting like they were a little too privileged, but this is something that’s going to hit them every so often–and it’s going to hit them quite a few times during their C Levels.

Now that we know they’re going to be out doing the minion thing for A Level Sorcery, it’s time to get a view of what’s going on there:

 

They found instructions in Helena’s office that they were to go into the classroom and wait for her, so they did as told. Annie scanned the faces of the new students as they walked through the door and to the front of the classroom, noticing the touch of confusion that most of the students had upon the face and a touch of fear on the faces of at least three. In retrospect, it wasn’t much different than the first time she entered this room on their level’s first day in this class.

They stood off in one corner and scan the room, saying nothing and trying not to appear too obtrusive. Seeing all the single stars on the right lapel of each jacket brought a smile to Annie’s face, causing her to glance over at Kerry’s jacket and admire the upright triangle of green stars that he now wore as a C Level. She glanced down at her right lapel not only saw the same triangle, but the adornment that was directly below her level markings: a pair of pilot’s wings to signify the accomplishment of gaining full control of her Flight Gift and showing competency with both visual flight and instrument flight rules. She was the only one in the school whose jacket was adorned this way, and it wasn’t difficult to notice the few stairs directed in her direction by students would spotted this difference.

Since all of these students were in The Fishbowl—the official term everyone use for the forced segregation of the new students so that they could get use to the school—the only people Annie knew for certain with the six new students from her coven. She recognized Isaac Gaborone sitting with another student she didn’t know from Ceridwen coven, both chatting away and looking a bit nervous. The boy from Syria, Yaman Ezon, sat at his desk and spoke to no one, which Annie didn’t find surprising: she already heard from a couple of people that he seemed to be having some difficulty adjusting to the rather free climate around Salem.

As far as the Cernunnos girls were concerned, their attitudes were completely different. Rajani Siddiqui from India and Rajani Siddiqui from Egypt sat with Jayanti Su, an Åsgårdsreia girl who was also from India. Kerry and she had seen the three walking together on the way back from class and he wondered if the girls were building a friendship. Annie thought that this gathering made the case that they were.

Juliette Moreau, a dark skinned girl from the south of France, sat with Misha Houtkooper, a Mórrígan boy from The Netherlands. There they didn’t seem as friendly as the trio of girls sitting nearby, Annie wondered if Juliette had selected to sit with Misha because of their geographical proximity. And lastly, Hayley Turner from Australia sat with Nicole Bautista, a short girl also from the Philippines who was also from Mórrígan. Annie heard a rumor that Nicole’s family spent time in Australia and that she had a relative living there, which might explain why she would become familiar with the only Australian A Level.

There was one A Level from another coven, however, that had come to Annie’s attention…

 

The kids have to look completely different standing up in front of the class with her triangle of green stars to signify they are C Levels, while all these other kids are sitting there with their single star.  And for the first time we get to see Annie with her Flight wings in place on her school jacket, of which he is the only student who has them.  We also get the meet the six new Cernunnos A Levels, though we really don’t get a chance to interact with them.  We can see, however, that the students already starting to find people with whom they can chat and relate.  Which Annie and Kerry would have done if they had been able to take their eyes off each other once in a while.

But who has come to Annie’s attention?  Well…  you’ll just have to wait.

Divining the Divine: Diversions Among the Devine

It’s now Wednesday and I have tonight and two more nights to get everything together for the big march on Saturday.  The cold that has been coming on for the last few days is still sort of lingering, but I think I’m holding it off successfully.  I may end up marching on Saturday with a bit of discomfort and maybe even a stuffy nose, but I will be in DC.

The plan now is to pick up some trail mix and a few power bars so I have something to eat, and possibly a water bottle.  I still have to print out my passenger manifest, which I intend to do on Friday.  I’m considering taking a cab to the rendezvous point, or possibly even bring over if there’s anyone out on the road at six in the morning.  And then finalize my attire on Friday night, because I’m going to need to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning to get ready on Saturday as our buses are leaving Harrisburg at six.

Soon, so much to do.  Chances are good I’ll get it done.

Today is also a big excerpt.  Were down near the end of Deanna’s scene for the first day of class, and given what is about to be mentioned it would be ridiculous to split it up into parts.  We know it started out with someone making a smart ass comment, but what you don’t realize is that Deanna is ready for such comments–and she has a bit of history when it comes to “burning” a witch over them…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Several students rolled their eyes while a few more groaned. The two students who knew her the best, however, were less circumspect in hiding their displeasure, and didn’t care if their outburst saw them getting into trouble.

Annie half turned and glared out of the corner of her eyes as she literally spit the words in Franky’s direction. “Proklet nevezh fanatik.”

While Kerry wasn’t certain of what Annie had said, he wanted to make sure there was no mistaking his comment. “Way to out yourself as an asshat, Franky.”

“That’s enough, you two.” Deanna didn’t want to show favoritism to Annie and Kerry in class, and couldn’t allow their outbursts to go unchecked. “Come see me as soon as class is over.” She then turned her attention to Franky. “By ‘Your people’, I assume you mean people from the Middle East, or Muslims, or both. Would that be a correct assumption?”

Franky shrugged as if the subject had already bored him. “Yeah, whatever.”

This wasn’t the first time Deanna had been asked this particular question and knew it wouldn’t be the last, so as she’d done in the past, the seer moved to make quick business of Franky. “You are right away: there are certain elements of the faith in which I was brought up that would say because I can do magic and I am involved in divination, I am well on the way to my eternal downfall. However—” She levitated her tablet to her and pulled up some information from the school database. “You were raised a Protestant, weren’t you?” She read something on display. “Anglican Church of Canada, am I correct?”

He was suddenly looking a bit uncomfortable. “How do you know that?”

“Because The Foundation compiled a great deal of information about you before you even came to school—and since they know, I now know.” Deanna gave a mysterious smile. “Is it true?”

 

The Foundation knows everything about you, Franky!  Doesn’t everyone at Salem realize this by now?  Kerry knows he’s been followed since a young age, and it goes without saying that The Foundation has probably been aware of Annie’s doings since she was a toddler.  There’s also a fair amount of certainty that they have monitored everyone who has ever walked through Founder’s Gate for several years before they were outed as witches.  Which means they know what sort of church you went to, Franky, and they would know if he was some sort of crazy religious person at this point.  What they would do with him if he was a crazy religious person is open to interpretation, and in certain it’s something that has happened at least once or twice in the past.

And speaking of religion… Well, get ready for some lessons on what to do if you ever encounter a witch.  Which everyone at the school does on a daily basis.

 

Once more Franky shrugged. “Yeah, it’s true. So?”

“Then you must remember some of your scripture teachings—or didn’t you study the Old Testament?” She didn’t wait for her student to answer the question. “Leviticus 20:27 is very clear on the subject: ‘A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.’ Now, while I’m not a necromancer, I am most certainly what one would consider a medium. Would you like to go outside, gather some stones, and lead the rest of the class in putting me to death?”

She allowed a few moments for Frank his discomfort to grow before continuing. “The verse that is most definitive on what to do with witches is Exodus 22:18: ‘You shall not permit a sorceress to live.’ Look about the room.” She held her arms wide. “Ten of your levelmates have moved on to Professor Lovecraft’s C Level Sorcery class, so you need to put about a third of the class to death.” Deanna moved towards Annie and Kerry and stopped just a couple of meters from them. “You might consider putting the two sorceresses in your level who are the most experienced with Morte spells to death first, as I’m certain they would take exception to your plan to kill their fellow sorceresses.”

Annie let out a short, harsh laugh before looking up at Deanna. “He could try killing me.”

Kerry half turned towards the now squirming boy. “’Try’ being the operative word.”

Deanna gave a short chuckle. “Maybe that’s something you need to try outside of this class.” She stepped away from the couple. “You should speak to Vicky about the things she learned about witchcraft while practicing Judaism as a child. Did you know the Talmud believes that most Jewish women used to practice witchcraft regularly? As far as it was concerned we couldn’t help ourselves; it comes naturally. And any gathering of women was considered suspicious; Pesahim 111a says that if two women are sitting at a crossroads facing each other, they are most certainly engaged in witchcraft.

“There is even a bit of an interesting connection between the Apocrypha and the Quran: it’s where humans learned witchcraft. The Apocrypha says that women learned it from angels, or Nefilim, as they were called, and the end for those women was spelled out in the Testament of Reuben, 5:5-6, in particular this passage: ‘For every woman who carries out these schemes will suffer eternal punishment, for it was thus that they led astray with their witchcraft the Nefilim before the flood.’ Not a very nice way to go, don’t you think?

“The Holy Quran looks at the origin of witchcraft a little differently: it said that sorceresses were taught witchcraft by jinn. And to do so pretty much damns you, as a portion of sura 2, ayah 102 states: ‘But the Children of Israel certainly knew that whoever purchased the magic would not have in the Hereafter any share. And wretched is that for which they sold themselves, if they only knew.’ To put it another way, we never realized that we were damning ourselves when we learn magic.”

Deanna ran her right hand casually through her hair, brushing it back from her ear and exposing a dangling gold earring. “I don’t know about you, Franky, but I was born with my gifts: I didn’t learn them from a jinn. But in case you were wondering, I have met a jinn and they are not the sort of creatures you want to learn magic from—and I don’t believe the one I met would have taught me had I asked. Since I was born with these talents, since I was actually starting to have visions before I knew what they were, I don’t see how they could be viewed as something horrible. It’s like saying I’m a terrible person because my eyes are a different color than yours, and because of that difference I need to be put to death. That’s ridiculous.”

 

Deanna has her quotes down, and not just from Christianity but from two major religions as well.  And believe it or not–though you know what I’m about to tell you is true, so the chances are you will believe it–those few paragraphs above pertaining to the preaching found in four different text took me about three hours of hunting down and research to make certain I got them right.  And not only did I need to determine the right, but I had to figure out how to fit them into the context of the story.  There was also the matter of deciding which translation to use, ’cause trust me, all this stuff has at least four or five different translations available, and each translation says something a little different.

I was surprised to discover the Talmud believed that nearly every woman was a witch.  It’s just something we do, I guess.  And while I knew about the Quran’s version of magic being learned from jinn–who were in league with demons, by the way–I did not know that the Apocrypha believed we had learned it from angels.  It all gets rather complicated after a while, but the core concept is the same: if you’re a witch, you’re bad.  And we know what folks back then loved to do to bad people–

 

She began to turn away and stopped halfway through. “By the way—” She gazed at Franky indirectly. “That quote from Exodus is usually translated these days to mean one should not let a witch live and not just sorceresses. Unless I’m mistaken, Franky, you’re a witch, and that means there are a certain number of your people who practice your faith that might be just as likely to kill you as those who practice my faith would kill me.” A smile gradually formed upon her face. “And unlike your scriptures, there’s nothing in the Holy Quran about killing witches.”

Deanna finished turning it and walked towards the large group of pillows in the middle front of the classroom. “I don’t mind having conversation on faith and how it relates to our unique positions in life, but anyone wishing to try and have that sort of conversation in this class is doing nothing more than wasting time: the classes and mine.” She stopped just short of the pillow pile and faced Franky, and for the first time there was the barest hint of anger in her eyes. “Don’t do this again, Franky, or you will find one of your proficiencies taking a hit for the day.”

She covered the last couple of meters to her seat of pillows and sat, folding her legs in the lotus position. “Now, who’s up to learning on how to see the future?” She gave her right hand a slight twist and the light level in the windowless room dropped by about a quarter. Using the same hand she snapped her fingers and a book appeared floating mere centimeters above them, and she levitated it towards her. “Get out your books: we have a lot to cover this year.”

 

There you go: you go to Deanna’s class, they get a history lesson concerning how different religions view dealing with everyone in her class.  It goes without saying that over the centuries anyone defined as a witch tended to get an express ticket to the afterlife, because like Exodus says, don’t let those witches live.  Which is one of the other reasons why The Foundation is one the great links to keep their existence, and the existence of their people, hidden from the Normals.  They hide in plain sight and have learned how, over the last two hundred years, to use their abilities to cover up their existence, as well as the existence of other entities like themselves.  And they’ve obviously gotten good at it, because if they can hide something the size of the School of Salem from the people living just on the other sides of the main wall, they can hide themselves from the rest of the world.

And this means they can go about teaching their kids in relative peace without fear of reprisal from the Normals.

"Sorry, you people without magical ability, but the witch killings have been put on hold--FOREVER."

“Sorry you people without magical ability, but here the witch killings have been put on hold–FOREVER.”

And now that we know where Deanna is taking her class, we have one last class to visit–

Wouldn’t you know it deals with those sorceresses we can’t suffer to live?

Divining the Divine: Seeing Where We’re Going

Always leave with the good news first, so that’s exactly what I’ll do.  Chapter Eight is done, finished, finito, fin.  It’s been a bit of a struggle to get through it, and the last scene has seen me either writing twelve hundred words in a couple of hours or three hundred words in a couple of hours; there’s been little in between.

And there was something about that last scene–

If I stare at these numbers maybe they'll tell me...

If I stare at these numbers maybe they’ll tell me…

Oh yeah: the last scene is the longest in the novel, and it’s nearly twice the length of the next longest scene in this chapter.  Why is that?  Because I had to do something they didn’t want to do, and it took me a while to do it.  Which is to say, something sort of bad happens in that last scene and I really had to work my way through it.  I hated when I have to do that.

That means Chapter Nine is gonna start tonight.  The chapter title is Freaky Friday, but you can rest assure you there’s nobody swapping going on here.  What is happening is it’s the first Friday of the first week of school, and that means we’ll get a peek at what’s going on at the start of Advanced Flight Two, will see the beginning of the first Midnight Madness of the year, Kerry will get a chance to find out how someone else’s coming out went over the last summer, and Annie is going to be asked an extremely important question.

Sounds dreadfully important, doesn’t it?  Only time will tell.

And speaking of time–we were speaking about time, weren’t we?  Or was it just some strange woman talking about the future?  Because yesterday we left Deanna beginning her monologue about what to expect in her class, Introduction to Divination.  And maybe now is a good time to see what she has to say–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

She straightened and clasped her hands in front of her once more. “Sounds dreadfully dramatic, doesn’t it? Well, in a way it is a bit dramatic. I mean, you’re seeing your future—or are you? You can also be seeing someone else’s future—but is that true as well? The future is a nebulous thing and it’s affected by the actions you take today. So is always a possibility that what you’re seeing may not be true—and yet, at the same time, it could very well be true. And that’s because—” Deanna pointed at the ginger haired boy at the front of the class. “Kerry, what is time?”

He glanced down at the floor for a moment as he tried, and failed, to keep from smiling too broadly. “It’s a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff.”

Deanna chuckled. “I somehow knew you’d have the answer.” She faced the rest of the class. “While that’s a rather simplified and somewhat entertaining description, it’s also extremely true: it is impossible to define time in absolute terms. Even when you see the future in a vision there’s always the possibility that it won’t be the actual future, but rather a possible future that may come about due to, or in despite, your actions.

“This class is meant to address all the different matters concerning divination. You learn about the different ways you can channel your Sight, how you can trigger a vision, how to interpret one, and most of all, what you should and shouldn’t do if you have a vision. Because we don’t know the future, we can’t say what actions will either make it happen, or prevent that from happening. And that is likely going to be the hardest lessons I will teach you this year, for we have a natural curiosity about the future.”

 

This last paragraph is one thing that Deanna keeps harping on constantly: even though you had a vision of the future, you’re not certain what steps need to be taken to get to that point.  And when that occurs, it becomes almost impossible to determine what one should do to reach the point they’ve seen in their vision.  Like with Annie and Kerry: they’ve had a vision of them getting married–well, technically, not getting married, but the aftermath of getting married–and it seen themselves flying in to what they now figure is Paris and then going to a hotel for the evening.  Those are all pretty simple visions, but what isn’t simple is how do they get to those points?  No one really knows, and given that marriage is at least five years away at the soonest, there’s no way in hell they could ever predict that their next action is going to bring about that vision coming true.

It’s never as simple as, “Don’t go out on dangerous missions,” because come the day after you turned on a dangerous mission you can find yourself being run over by a car–and that will probably put the wedding vision on hold, possibly permanently.  The future is a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff, and there’s no way in hell you gonna navigate around it unless you know how to navigate.  And that’s what this class is going to teach the kids.  Or at least Deanna will try to do her best to teach the kids, because as we all know some kids are unteachable.

Maybe one of them even shows up and this next set of paragraphs…

 

Though she didn’t walk about the room, Deanna shifted her weight from one leg to another as she spoke. “Every witch has the capacity for Sight, but just like with crafting magic, Sight comes differently to all of us. For some it never develops, or will develop to the point we may have only one or two meaningful visions throughout your entire life. For others it develops to the point where they can only have a meaningful vision with an enormous amount of triggering—and even then their visions are limited and often ill-defined. And there are some who can only have visions under certain conditions which involve either helpful triggers or dreams.” Though she didn’t look directly at them, her eyes shifted toward Annie and Kerry. “I’ve already encountered a few students who’ve fallen into this last category.

“There are only a few of you who’ll make it to the point where you become what is known as an Active Seer, a person to whom visions come without any prodding and tend to take over your life for a few seconds when you least expect it. I can’t say for certain if there’s anyone in this room who could be considered an Active Seer because they are rare: extremely rare. Maybe one of you is like that, but I doubt if I’d be more than that in this room.

“Not only will we learn about divination, but I will attempt to trigger you all to get you to experience a vision. Some of these triggers will use runes, some will use deep trances, and some will require the use of—” Deanna pointed to a point between two of the doors. “Ouija boards. Yes, while a Ouija board cannot be used to summon a demon, it can be used to trigger a vision, something that Professor Lewiston and I joke about quite often.”

Deanna stopped moving about and glanced around the room. “Does anyone have any questions?” Two seconds later a hand shot up Deanna didn’t need to check her attendance because she knew the owner of this hand. “Yes, Franky?”

Franky Smith cleared his throat. “Does it ever bother you that because you’re a witch your people want to kill you?”

 

It’s nice to know that in my world a Ouija board will not summon a demon, but it can cause you to have a vision of the future.  And now that I pointed that out, you know there’ll be at least one scene where a Ouija board is used to bring about a vision.  So what does one use to someone a demon?  That will be answered in a later book, you can rest assured.

And now this last comment with Franky being a smart ass, which is something that Franky does rather well.  But you have to realize that this isn’t the first time that Deanna’s been asked about “your people” wanting to do her harm because she is a witch–

She’s so good at dealing with the subject that I just had to write about it…

Divining the Divine: Seeing Over the Beginning

Though today is a holiday I have to go and work: I’m actually supposed to be there in a little more than an hour.  And I don’t feel like going.  I’m still getting over whatever it is started coming on Thursday evening and my head is all fuzzy from medication I’ve been taking.  All this so few days from now I’m not a complete mess while in in Washington D.  C.  For the Women’s March on Washington.

Not even sure how long I’ll have to work today.  It’s likely I’ll be done by noon, and if that’s the case, I’ll come home take a nice long nap.  If I don’t do it at my computer first.

"Don't worry, I'll get back to writing as soon as... zzzzz..."

“Just resting my eyes, that’s all.  Back on my feet in no time.”

The scene I’m currently working on has suddenly become the longest in the novel.  Last night I took it just up over sixty-seven hundred words, and the chances are it will pass seven thousand before him done.  This means I also passed the hundred and ten thousand word mark, which only took me fifteen days to reach, due in part to the fact that there were few days when I wrote little or nothing.  Now I’m about closeout Chapter Eight the whole lot of words.

And speaking of a whole lot of words, were about to get into the first moments of Introduction to Divination.  As it’s taken me all day to get to this point, why wait any longer?  Let’s go!

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

The heat that had remained over the weekend was still at the school, and even though it wasn’t that hot—even now, just after lunch, the temperature was only 27 Celsius—no breeze coupled with an oppressive mugginess made the temperatures seem much more oppressive. For the first time since the end of their B Levels, Annie wore her school uniform without tights and Kerry and she used the tunnel system to go to Memory’s End. As she told Kerry when they left the Great Hall, while he was used to this sort of weather, it wasn’t something she experienced that often—and when she did during the summer, she was often lightly dressed.

 Since they knew their way around Memory’s End finding the staircase to the ground floor wasn’t difficult. When they stepped out to the main hallway they found a couple of students milling about wondering if they should enter the first room on the right near us the main entrance, or if they should use one of the three doors on the left. Their schedule said class would be held in Room #1, which was not the doorway close is the main entrance, but rather the one three-quarters of the way down the hall. Deanna explained to Annie sometime before that Room #1 was something of a misnomer: all three doors on the left leading into one large room which could be partitioned into three smaller rooms for more intimate classes. For the C Level’s Introduction to Divination they would use the entire space.

Being familiar with Deanna’s teaching methods neither Annie or Kerry were surprised when they entered the room and found the floor covered in large pillows. About a third of the students stood along the sides of the room looking as if they expected desks and chairs to appear at any moment, while the rest were sitting on the pillows waiting to see what happened next. Annie and Kerry had spent some time with Deanna on Sunday and learned that besides them, only six other C Levels came out to Memory’s End to visit with her—about a third of the C Levels.

Annie wondered how Deanna dealt with the other C Levels who saw her last Friday, and she couldn’t help but wonder if Deanna tried to coax a vision out of them as well…

 

It goes without saying that Annie and Kerry know their way around Memory’s End, because they’ve been out here more times than the other C Levels.  We’ve yet to get an accounting of how many of the C Levels actually visited Deanna during Reacquaintance Day, but at some point will hear the story and you may be surprised by the numbers.  Needless to say, the other C Levels haven’t visited quite as often, they were just plain scared to come out.  The reason for that may have something to do with how Deanna not only views herself, but how she sees others viewing her:

 

The alarm on Kerry’s phone began beeping as Deanna entered the room and waved the door closed behind her. After two years of contact with her, Annie had seen how Deanna dressed for class, and today it was obvious that she was trying to make an impression. She wore her dark hair brushed back over her shoulders so one could see her dangling amethyst earrings. Her long sleeve silk tunic was a lovely robins egg blue and she wore number of bangles on each wrist. Her flowing Palazzo pants were a dark forest green and were long enough that they nearly hid her leather sandals. Annie noticed something she’d never seen before: she wore three rings, two on her left hand and one on the right.

Deanna took a moment to scan the room with her tablet so she could determine who was whom before levitating it towards a large grouping of pillows at the front of the room and setting it gently on the floor. She faced the students, clasped her hands together, and gave a warm, inviting smile. “Well, you’re finally here. After two years of attending classes you get to find out if all those rumors and stories about the strange Iraqi girl whom they say sees the future are really true.

“In case you are lost this is Introduction to Divination and I am Professor Deanna Arrakis. I know some of you feel the urge to chuckle when I say the word ‘professor’, and they really are times when I have to remind myself that even though I turned twenty-eight this year, I am not only an instructor at the most famous school in The Foundation’s educational system, but also the leader of one of the five covens of Salem—the one to which I was assigned when I first came here. And before you ask: no, I didn’t have a vision of me doing either of those things.” There was a smattering of laughter around the room.

She pulled a metal flask of water out of Hammerspace, took a sip, and returned it before continuing. “It’s likely you’re asking yourself, ‘What am I going to learn in this class?’ It’s simple: you going to learn about divination. You going to learn about visions. You going to learn about Pronouncements.” While looking about the room Deanna made a slow motion with her right hand and the lighting in the room came down by about a third. “You going to learn whether or not you have Sight and if you do, you’ll learn how to use your Sight.” She took a couple of slow steps towards the students. “You’re going to learn how to see the future.”

 

After six hours stint at work, where I had the over the massive cold medication hangover, and a boozy, four-glasses-of-wine dinner, I finally get my blog post out.  Sorry it took so long, but sometimes real life is a pain and it gets in the way.  And unlike Deanna, I can’t see the future, so I don’t know when it’s going to be a pain.

Let’s hope, like Scarlett thought, tomorrow will be a better day…

Divining the Divine: The New School Order

Sunday is here and it’s PH (Pussy Hat) minus 6 days and counting until I’m on a bus to D.C. and  heading towards a march.  I’m feeling a little better this morning, but I’d feel a lot better if I could get rid of this scratchy throat.  Also, I’ve got to run out and get groceries and I really don’t feel like venturing out, but if Cassie wants to eat she better.

Look at that face:  she needs feeding.  Anyone wanna feed me?

Look at that face: she needs feeding. Anyone wanna feed me?

Today we get into the scene leading into the first day of class for Introduction to Divination.  However, there’s a bit of an issue:  today’s excerpt, while taking place in that scene, doesn’t have anything to do with the class.  Why is that?  Because as I’m want to do, there’s a bit of misdirection in the lead-up to the class.  Throughout the histories of these novels this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve taken a slight detour on the way to the main focus of a scene, mostly because I like to get into what my characters are thinking and feeling as they make their way through life.

And that means before we see the future, we’re gonna have to spend some time in the past…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

It was the second day of school and already Annie was feeling the difference in this levels schedule than last levels schedule. It wasn’t what they had already done—yesterday, Monday, Kerry and she had Introduction to Art and Advanced Formulistic Magic—but it was the meeting they had after dinner and left them wondering if and when they have any free time this school year.

Before leaving Advanced Formulistic Magic Erywin told them to come to the instructor’s residence at nineteen hours for a meeting. Neither of them asked what the meeting was about: they were both aware by now that any meeting at the Instructors Residence had to do either with Kerry’s burgeoning Bigender Gift or special training in classes.
As they soon discovered, it had to do with the later.

They met in the same library where they learned about Kerry’s Gift and their astral binding. Erywin and Helena were there, as was Jessica, Deanna, and Wednesday, with Headmistress Laventure overseeing the meeting. Just as before Kerry led Annie the love seat across from the instructors and headmistress and waited for her to sit before joining her and settling in for this discussion.

 

“Hey, kids!  Why don’t you come out to the Residence?  We’ll sit, we’ll chat–it’ll be fun!  And we’ll have hot chocolate!”  Yeah, the kids are starting to learn that trips to the Instructor’s Residence are fraught with problems that are usually reserved for the witchy kind.  Sometimes it has to do with classes, sometimes it’s something personal–

This time it’s a little of both…

 

There was no obfuscation during the meeting: the group got to the point immediately with Helena leading most of the discussion. Besides being available for sorcery minion work all day Thursday, Helena and Jessica expected Annie and Kerry to use Monday evening, from nineteen to twenty-two hours, to work on teaching each other what they had learned in Advanced Transformation and Advanced Sorcery. And as far as those two advanced classes were concerned, while Kerry was attending Advanced Transformation, Annie would work with Helena on Advanced Sorcery. Helena did indicate, however, that if Annie were required to, or needed to, attend Advanced Transformation, she needed only to ask.

Deanna informed them that they had locked down the time for their Special Astral Training: from thirteen to sixteen hours on Friday at Memory’s End. Deanna and Mathilde stressed that under no circumstances were they to tell any of the other students in their level that they were undertaking this study, and when Annie asked why, all the headmistress would say is that it wouldn’t be prudent.

Of the corner of her eye she saw Kerry raises eyebrows in disbelief and Annie knew why: the last time they were told not to mention their special activities to anyone was during last year’s marionette training. Since they were now being told the same thing, Annie concluded that their upcoming class had less to do with Deanna not wanting them to be bored and more to do with a training directive issued by the Guardian’s San Francisco office.

Wednesday was there to let them know that whenever possible she wanted to use them as lab minions during the Tuesday morning Beginning Spells class for the A Levels. She also let them know that from time to time she might want them to come in to the Thursday afternoon C Level Spell Casting class, as some of the spells the other C Levels would learn were already understood by them both. She didn’t want to say anything, but Kerry and she we’re looking forward to using that free time on Tuesday morning to relax, and it seemed as if that wasn’t going to happen, at least not every week—

Which was when Jessica spoke and said that since she had her C Level Transformative Magic class at the same time on Tuesday morning, she might want to use either of them as lab minions as she had done last year when they were all B Levels. Kerry gave a weak smile and assured the Mistress of Transformation that if they were needed, they would be there.

Mathilde stressed that this extra minion work on Tuesday mornings and through the Thursday classes would not be a constant thing, and that they would be allowed the opportunity to relax due to their grueling schedule, but Annie knew otherwise. During their last school level they they’d used some of their free Thursday time for Ostara work and had used whatever free Friday, Saturday, and Sunday time they could for that event as well. There was no reason to think they wouldn’t do the same thing this school year.

As they made their way to Memory’s End Annie imagined that the time they spend together in their underground Private Universe—as Kerry had taken to calling the room she had found last year for them to spent quiet moments togeher—it might be a while before they had another relaxing Tuesday morning.

She hoped when they did have another, it wasn’t as humid as when they were experiencing right now.

 

You know that down time you were gonna get, kids?  You ain’t getting  it.  Sounds like the school is gonna push these two as hard as they can and see what shakes out.  It’s not that there aren’t any other minions, but when you’re the best of the best, you’re gonna be in high demand.

And high demand means you won’t have a lot of time for yourself.

Though when you do find a moment to relax you can dream about all those future moments when you'll probably be too busy to rest.

Though when you do find a moment to relax you can dream about all those future moments when you’ll probably be too busy to have a life.

Now that we know what the previous night was like, we can get into the next new class.  I promise!  Really!

Getting Your Art On: The Art of Life

We all need some moments of silence in our life and last night was my moment.  It was something of a weird evening for me, for I spent most of it sitting around in front of the computer with no music playing and no interest in watching TV.  I was basically doing some research and preparing for my bus captain group meeting last night–held online at 9 PM Eastern time–and after I was done with that I managed to write a few hundred words and settle in the bed.

I’m not sure what I was feeling, but the spark of creativity was not there.  I think it was my moment to just sit around and veg out.

Yesterday was the introduction to the first day of art class, and we managed to learn a little about Matthias Ellison’s background and why he’s the artistic dude he has become.  Today we’re gonna learn what he thinks about art and why it’s important for everyone to have exposure:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

For the first time since beginning his monologue Matthias began to pace around the studio space, turning to individual students as he spoke. “I love art. I love all forms of artistic expression, but art is one of those things that, like music, reaches right into my soul and touches me in a way few things can. It not only provokes an emotional response, but at the same time it’s stimulating your mind to create an intellectual response as well. And if a particular piece—be it a painting, a song, a passage from a story—is done just right, it can even provoke physical response as well. It might be joy, sadness, or anger, or even passion, but it can happen. And the best are can provoke all three of those things in individual at the same time. There’s little in life that can be said do the same.

“A thriving society needs its artistic community, because it needs the stimulation that come from the appreciation of artistic endeavors. Every society that has grown and thrived throughout history had, at its core, a vibrant artistic base, because—as I see it—artistic endeavor is an offshoot of imagination, and imagination comes from intellectual stimulation.

“The inverse is true: every society that is waning or dying has lost its artistic community, either through negligence or indifference. Once society has decided that art is an indulgence, that it’s something they can’t afford, that it will appeal only to the intellectual community and should therefore be shunned as being too ‘highbrow’ for the majority of people to understand and/or enjoy, then that society, as a whole, begins to die. They have decided that only the lowest common denominator of every form of expression is acceptable, and that the only purpose of art is to be ‘entertaining’. Once that happens, it’s only a matter of time before that society vanishes from the face of this planet.

“Art is essential for a witch, for any of the Aware, because we need our imaginations and artistic expression is one of the best ways to stimulate our imaginations.” Professor Ellison looked at his tablet so we can call on a student without falling back on the four he knew best. “Shauntia, what is the acronym we use to describe the process needed for crafting a spell?”

 

His feelings about the importance of art in any society is one that’s been echoed from time-to-time by other academics.  You see this happening today in the U.S. and it becomes apparent that things like art and music are seen as something to only be enjoyed by “snobs”.  Matthias believes this completely and isn’t afraid to say a society that doesn’t embrace it’s arts is one that doesn’t need, or won’t, continue.

And this leads him into one of the reasons witches need art;

 

Shauntia Okoro didn’t need to consider the answer as it came to her automatically. “VEW, Professor.”

“Correct. VEW: Visualize, Energy, Willpower. But what does this really mean?” He chuckled as he looked about the room, seeing some of the quizzical looks directed his way. “That was a rhetorical question, by the way, but let me show you where I’m going with this—

“Let me work this backwards. At the end there’s willpower, which we all know is the force of your personality that you use to make the spell become real. As I’m sure Professor Douglas and a few of the other instructors of said, your willpower is necessary because you need to essentially override reality. And the stronger your will against reality, the more effective and powerful your spell becomes.

“In the middle we have energy, which you need to power the spell. The energy can be either mystical or dark, but without energy your spell goes nowhere. Doesn’t matter how much willpower you have, if you haven’t allocated energy to your crafting, the end result is nothing.

“But the very first thing on this list, the very first thing you need, is visualization. You not only need to see the shape the spell is going to take, but you have to imagine the end result of your crafting. The very first step crafting magic is to imagine what it is like to reshape reality, and that is artistic expression.

“Every good witch is, at their core, an artist. You not only have to imagine how a spell is going to look, but as you advance through your learnings it becomes necessary to put these three things together in a matter of seconds. Which means, the greater your imagination, the faster you can conceptualize the reshaping of reality.”

Matthias waved his tablet away and set her down gently upon his desk. He began making a slow circuit of the room as he finished his monologue. “Everyone has some sort of artistic ability inside, and as with any talent it needs to be nurtured so that it grow. Now, I can’t say that by the end of this class you’re all going to be equally great artists: that won’t happen because you all different people. And it will be the same with what you draw: I can ask the entire class to draw a scene and each of you will come back with something different. Because you’re showing me your vision; your showing me what you see.

“But that’s what we intend to do in this class: we intend to find your talent, we intend to bring it out, and we intend to help it grow. When you first came to school all but one of you had absolutely no idea how to do magic, and now look at you. Well, you now you find yourself in this room and with the exception of a few, you’re once again unsure about how to draw or paint. We’re going to set about changing that. Together, we’re going to attempt to make an artist out to you. It may not be easy, and at times it’s going to seem super frustrating. But nothing done here at school has ever come easy, so why should what happens in here be any different?”

Matthias laughed as he headed back toward his desk. When he reached it he waved his hand and a holographic projection of the woods to the north of the history and arts building appeared in the open space at the front of the room. “Here’s a good first exercise. If you were to go to the roof of this building this is what you see as you looked towards the observatory. What I want you to do simple: set a sketchpad upon your easel, grab your pencils, and draw what you see. I assure you there’s no right or wrong, and there’s no good or bad. There’s just what you draw.

“And the reason for this is simple: each of you sees the world differently.” Matthias smiled as he looked about the room and saw the sometimes grim, sometimes confused faces of the students. “And once I know what you’re seeing, then maybe I can show you how to see better.”

 

It is so true here in my world that imagination is the key to being a good witch.  Those who have the strongest imaginations are gonna rip reality a new one, and that probably gonna affect anyone standing close by.  We know Kerry has a great imagination and Annie has already demonstrated her artistic ability, so could it be that the reason these two are such great witches is because they can visualize better than their fellow witches?

You might say Annie could literally make this painting jump off the canvas...

You might say Annie could literally make this painting jump off the canvas…

The start of art is over–now we’re on to the next scene and a different kind of seeing…

Getting Your Art On: Setting the Interest

The last two nights of writing have ended up seeming a bit surreal, because of back inside Helena’s A Level sorcery class, and I’m remembering all the stuff I wrote about her the first time while doing it all again.  And make sure realize that some of the instructors at the school have been on the job for close to twenty years: there are two who fall into that category easily, and two more were creeping up on that goal.  Helen is one of those instructors who has been teaching for about ten years straight, but during the 1990s she actually had a few other stints between Guardian field operations where she put in a year or two of instruction during her down time.

And when you consider that every instructor, as well as the staff, were students before they became instructors, that tacks on anywhere from six to eight additional years spent at school.  When you had that on, Helena has spent nearly twenty years at Salem, and Jessica and Erywin have been at Salem for closer to thirty.  But you know, what’s thirty years when you’re likely to live for a hundred and fifty?

Speaking of one of the instructors is actually been at the school for over twenty years, first as a student and then instructor, we now get in to actually meeting Professor Matthias Ellison, the head of the Arts and Music Department.  The reality is that save for a few people who come in from time to time to help out with things, he is the Arts and Music Department, as the only other people who are associated with this department are those student tutors who Matthias reaches out to to help other students.

Believe me when I say I had fun putting his background together, because it gives you a little hint of how he actually got to where he’s at and you get to see a little of the Normal background that drove him to be who he is today.  So let’s kick back and enjoy Professor Ellison’s opening statements.

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Professor Ellison waited for everyone to find their workspace before he begin taking the first attendance of the year. As soon as he was satisfied that everyone was in the proper classroom he moved the tablet about three quarters of an arm length from him and turned to face the students. “Good morning, everyone, and I would like to welcome you to Introduction to Art. I am Professor Matthias Ellison, but most people call me Matthias. It’s easy to remember because it sounds like an important name, and I prefer being called that because ‘Professor Ellison’ sometimes sounds a bit too stuffy.

“A little bit about me. I was born in Canada and come from a Normal background. When I came to the school I was placed in Blodeuwedd Coven, were managed to maintain fairly good proficiencies and graduated in 1991. After leaving here I went to college in Canada and managed to get my Masters before coming back here to teach in 1998. I was present during The Scouring and fought with honor alongside a number of instructors and students—and some of those students with whom I fought for now colleagues of mine.

“I mentioned I’m from Canada. Specifically, I’m from White City, Saskatchewan, which is situated on the Trans Canada Highway about ten kilometers east of Regina, a city famous for its NHL hockey players, a song by The Guess Who, the hometown of actors Leslie Nielsen, Stephen Yeun, and Tatiana Maslany, and the fact that everyone messes up the pronunciation of the city by not realizing it rhymes with a body part found only on women.” He waited for a smattering of laughs to die down before continuing. “White City is also known for The Ice House, which serves the greatest hamburgers in all of Canada, and anyone who says that isn’t true is a liar. There’s little that makes the town spectacular: it’s what people in America would call a ‘bedroom community’ and today it’s filled with a lot of upscale people, two of whom are my parents who work in downtown Regina.

“One of the more interesting things about White City is the origin of its name. One says that it came about because of a misspelled store sign, but another—the one I like best—is that it was named after the White City section of London, England. I mean, it’s not unusual: a lot of places in North America are named after cities and towns in Europe, so it makes sense that perhaps someone decided to name my hometown after location back in the old world.

 

Everything in the preceding three paragraphs is true.  Not only did I do my research, but I happen to have a couple of Facebook friends who live in the Regina area, and when I told them that I was actually researching Regina for this section of my novel, they gave me a few hints on what to include.  One of the friends remarked that she was surprised to see me include the MacKenzie Art Gallery and the University of Regina, which both appear below.  My other friend is actually from White City and found it interesting that I wanted to write about it.

And it’s this friend who told me to make certain that I wrote about The Ice House, a local burger joint that is well known through this part of Saskatchewan, and which she actually said serves the best burgers in all of Canada.  So I looked up a little information on The Ice House and discovered that it is not only a burger joint but a liquor store as well, because Canada.  I mean, why not?  Load up on a burger and fries, maybe a little poutine while you’re at it, and then grab some beer  and wine for the drive home.

Come for the burgers, but don't leave empty handed.

Come for the burgers, leave with the adult beverages.

Their primary burger is known as The Iceberg, which is a homemade confection that appears to be the sort of thing that I would eat if I visited this place.  But if you have a huge appetite you can try the scaled up version of The Iceberg called The Glacier Burger, a CAD $29 monstrosity that will guarantee you don’t leave this establishment hungry if you can find the energy to regains your feet and stagger out to your car.  In fact, it looks almost like one of those novelties that you see restaurant served from time to time: you know, like a five pound/two and a half kilogram steak that if you can eat the whole thing you get for free.  Though I’m pretty sure with this burger you pay up front before you start eating.

Oh, and make sure you have a beer with it to, eh?

Oh, and make sure you have a frosty beer with it too, eh?

And one last thing to point out and that’s the correct pronunciation of the name Regina.  This one I got directly from my friend Nicole, who lives and works in Regina, and who has said on occasion that since far too many people pronounce the name “Ra-GE-na”, there is an easy phrase to help you remember the correct way to pronounce the name: “Regina like Vagina.”  Yes, just like Professor Ellison said, it rhymes with a particular body part found only on women–well, on csiwomen.  There’s just some of us gals who haven’t quite caught on with that particular trend…

Now that Matthias has given us a little background on Canadian geography, he gets into one of the main reasons why he is the person he is today:

 

“I really didn’t think much about my hometown’s name origin until I started here as an A Level. That’s because two months after I started here an album came out titled White City: A Novel, which was written and performed by Pete Townsend—he’s a guy who’s been in the band The Who for like forever, which is something I’m sure almost all of you didn’t know.

White City—the album, not my hometown—is what was known as a ‘concept album’, which means all of the songs tied together to tell a story. You don’t hear of those too much these days, mostly because the music buying public can’t really listen to a song that’s more than four minutes long before they tune out, but back in the 1970s and through a bit of the 1980s, they were all the rage; it seem like every famous band then put out at least one during their lifetime.

“Now here’s a dirty little secret of mine: before coming to Salem I wasn’t really that into music. I listened to music, but it was little more than background noise to my life. It wasn’t until I was able to sit and listen to White City that I started to get into music. It wasn’t that the music was great—because it was, it was fantastic—but it was the idea that one could convey a story using music and lyrics, and make it a coherent, meaningful experience.

“You might say that this album was my musical epiphany, because it wasn’t long after that I realized that all music tells the story. It does this because music triggers an emotional response in each of us and makes us feel things that we didn’t realize we could feel.

“While I was home on Yule holiday that year I parents took me to the MacKenzie Art Gallery, which at that time was still connected to the University of Regina, my other alma mater. This was the first time I was exposed to paintings and sculpture, and the experience left me speechless. When you’re twelve years old you’re supposed to find art stuffy and boring, but I didn’t: I found it amazing. When we were leaving the museum I bugged my parents to buy me a book that would show me how to sketch, and I spent the rest of my Yule holiday working on sketching. And I brought that book back to school with me, managed to get a hold of a sketch pad and pencils, and spent the rest of my A Levels sketching whenever I had time.

“When we returned home from school that summer I couldn’t work on magic, so I worked developing my artistic talent. I also asked my mother if I could take piano lessons that summer, and she paid for me to see a teacher. So that summer I was not only learning to draw and paint, but I was also learning to become a musician—or, I should say, I was learning how to play piano.

“After returning to school I asked the then head of the Arts and Music Department if I could perform during Ostara, and if she could get a tutor to help me work on a piece between the start of my B Levels and March of the following calendar year. She agreed to both my request, and in 1987 I performed at my first Ostara. After I left the school I went back to the University of Regina enrolled in the music program graduated with honors from there, and then worked on a Masters that would allow me to teach music and composition.

“And when I was finished with all that, I decided that the one place in the world where I could make the greatest impact with what I’d learned was right here at Salem. And I’ve been here ever since.”

 

There you have it:  Matthias Ellison discovered music because the guitarist from The Who created album that, I feel, is one of his best and most underrated works, and because his parents decided to expose him to art.  And from that he learned to draw and play, then went to college to understand it better before coming back to Salem to pass along what he learned.  Which is how real teachers do this.

Now that we have his background, it’s about time for him to explain why he likes the arts–and why you should as well…