Åsgårdsreia Down, Cernunnos to Go

Well, now:  yesterday wasn’t a bad day, but beyond getting a little shopping done and having a good lunch–couldn’t eat much for dinner since I’m fasting for blood work today–there wasn’t a lot going on.  I was in sort of a strange, negated funk about doing something, but ended up doing little of anything.

But I did end up writing.

But of course I did.  And you knew that.

But of course I did. And you knew that.

I left my Åsgårdsreia students ready to meet the oncoming horde of homunculi emerging from the cabinets.  This wasn’t taken very well:

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

The homunculi shambled out of the cabinets, all the size of the students facing them and dressed in tattered and dirty school uniforms. Their skin was discolored and blemished; some of the homunculi showed open sores and, in a few cases, showed extensive damage to their heads, faces, and hands.

They were the literal representation of a class of zombie Salem students preparing to attack their living counterparts.

Nine of the homunculi were out of the cabinets and advancing when the first reached the yellow line. The shield there dropped, allowing the Åsgårdsreia students to attack. Four of the students began to move forward—

Then the Åsgårdsreia students stopped and groaned. Most of them raised their hands to their faces: all of them had looks of disgust. Several of the students grumbled in their own languages, including Anna Laskar, who nearly fell to her knees while screaming in German—“Der gestank ist entsetzlich. Lassen sie mich: ich will nicht hier sein.”—and trying to hold herself upright with her fighting pole. Half the students turned pale; a couple gagged several times.

 

Well, that’s never a good sign.

But there’s eight of them, so things should have went well, right?

 

They fought through whatever was bothering them and moved on the twelve homunculi advancing upon the coven team. Lisa Glissandi and three other people ran up to the homunculi in the front; Lisa wound up her jō, ready to swing, and struck Dariga Dulatuli in the face. She screamed as she dropped her jō, clutching her face as she turned and sprinted towards the red line, blood running over her mouth and over her chin.

This didn’t deture Lisa, who hit the homunculi on the shoulder twice. When her third strike did nothing to halt its advance, she drew her jō over her head—and struck Balgaire Ibanez’s head. The boy staggered to his left, falling into Anna and Shauntia Okoro, before steadying himself.

 

I’d watch where you’re swinging that thing, Lisa–you could hurt someone.  And you aren’t the only one your coven mates need worry about:

 

Daudi didn’t see the homunculi shamble up from behind and sink its teeth into her neck.

The girl’s scream was high pitched and flooded with pain as blood fountained from the source of the bite. The blood arced from the wound and sprayed Dongsun in the side of the head, making him flinch. Daudi’s eyes rolled back in her head and she fell backward, making a loud thud when she hit the mat.

 

It’s always a good Self Defense class when you instructor turns killer zombies loose on the kids, isn’t it?

Needless to say, save for three students who “died” by being bitten, the rest of out Brave Åsgårdsreia Shield, um, maidens and dudes, ran for the red line.  Brave zombie killers they were not.

 

That was enough for Professor Chai. She waved her hands and the enchanted side shields vanished. “Well . . .” Her gaze bored through the panting and huffing Åsgårdsreia students at the other end of the mat. “That didn’t turn out very well, did it?” The professor waved her hands again and the unconscious students began to move, shaking off the enchantment they’d fallen under when they were bitten. They slowly regained their feet and joined the rest of their coven mates.

She turned to the rest of the students, some of whom still appeared shocked by what they’d seen. “The mat is in need of a cleaning—” She turned and waved at the homunculi, who turned and shambled back to the cabinets. “All will take a ten minutes break—except for the next team. They need to prepare.” She turned to Annie and Kerry. “Cernunnos: you’re next.”

 

Sorry, kids:  I didn’t mean to leave you hanging like that.  I’m sure everything will turn out just fine–

"I have a bad feeling about this, Annie."  "And a bad hat, too."  "Yeah--I took it off a kid eating pudding . . ."

“I have a bad feeling about this, Annie.”  “And a bad hat, too.”  “Yeah–I took it off a kid I found eating pudding . . .”

Selling the Sorcery

I’ll tell you, Sundays are never a good day.  I was busy all morning, busy all afternoon, and by the time you get to writing you feel dead–exceptionally dead.  Sort of like the Resident Evil movie that was on last night:  brain dead but still moving, albeit slowly.

However, I did think more on the idea I posted yesterday about the Mórrígan and Åsgårdsreia students–mostly the girls, the boys would probably feel foolish–squaring off during the Samhain Ball in the great hall.  Since everyone’s in costume, you’ll have your various interpretations of the Goddess of War on one side of the room, and your Valkyries and shield maidens on the other, and it’ll be like:

Come at me, Bro!

Come at me, Bro!

I am no Bro.

I am no Bro!

Yeah, I gotta write that.  Even if it’s only a short scene, and it’s taking place outside the Hall, and they aren’t really using swords, but being how they’re all witches and gifted students and technogeek mad scientists, they can probably come up with something else.

Part of the business was due to an article I was writing.  There was tons of research I needed to do, and at one point I was getting tired hunting down the correct papers I needed to write.  Still managed to get out five hundred words, and I’m not finished.  I’ll do my best to get that wrapped up by this weekend, though no promises.

That meant when it came time to actually write last night, I did about five hundred and fifty words.  Not a good total, but I’ll take it.  As I’ve mentioned before, some times you feel the words, some times you don’t, and perhaps it was a combination of being tired and feeling distracted that put me off my count.  Not worried, not worried:  I’ll bounce back tonight, hit a thousand, and start my, “Helena is a Bad Girl” section of the scene.  It’s gonna be great.

One of the things I like doing is setting my story in the current world while indicating that most, if not all, of our pop culture references do exist.  You’re in a school full of witches and super powered kids, with a mad scientist thrown in here and there, and when you have a room full of eleven-year-olds, who isn’t expecting to hear something asked based upon what they may have read or heard in the Normal World:

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“This leaves sorcery. Whereas the other disciplines can used against another person, sorcery is designed to work against a person, whether directly or indirectly. You all encountered what Professor Sladen eloquently called the ‘Hell Shawl’ yesterday—” Helena grinned, satisfied by the looks on the faces of her students. “An example of my handwork.

“Sorcery is all about dominating people, controlling them, hurting them . . . killing them. You can do it directly, or you can do it with cursed items and various chemical product—” She heard a few students say, “Potions,” and almost mentioned that it was a good thing Erywin wasn’t there to scold them, for if there was anything she truly hated, it was hearing her lovely formulistic magic called potions.

“There’s also two lesser branches to sorcery: necromancy and daemonmancy. Adric will instruct you in the ways of dealing with spirits and the recently deceased, but even he won’t touch necromancy—we teach you that together. As far as daemonmancy is concerned . . . I only teach that on a need to know basis.” She half turned to her right. “I doubt if many of you will need to know.”

Helena was ready for her experiment. She had every student’s attention, had then following her every word—and now it was time to do what she’d planed for most of the week. All she needed was for someone . . .

“Is there like a main spell used for killing people?”

She didn’t know who asked the question, but Helena didn’t care. Every year someone asks that, and I have to answer. She turned her attention back to her students. This year I’ll have help . . . “There is more than ‘a main spell’. I can think of a half-dozen different ways to kill someone with little more—” She raised her right hand and snapped her fingers. “Than that.”

With that out of the way. . . “Miss Kirilova.” Annie’s eyes snapped towards her. “What is the name of the discipline set aside for the various means of killing within sorcery?”

That Helena:  she doesn’t care to keep hearing about all this fantasy crap, does she?

Lastly, I was upset–well, just a little–that Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany didn’t win a Best Actress Golden Globe award last night.  You play seven characters, some whom interact with each other in scenes that take the better part of a day to film, and people just don’t give you props.  I’ve fallen in love with Orphan Black, mostly for the acting and writing, and the life Tatiana brings to each member of the Clone Club.

The hell with them.  Lets get out on the floor and move to our groove.  Go, little psycho bitch, go!

And this is the part of the post where we dance with the tail!

Crowing to Start

The morning started out well and good today.  Panera RavenHop out of bed, get ready, drive to the local Panera for breakfast . . . but as I’m walking up to the entrance this  guy is waiting for me.  The one in the middle, mind you, not the buddy on the higher wire who flew in while I was snapping the picture.  Naw, the raven in the middle, he/she is watching me, and as soon as I got even with them–caw, caw, caw!  Dude just went off.

Being a sociable gal, I stopped and said, “You bringing me a message from The Imp?”  Caw, caw!  “No?  Mommy of Dragons?”  Caw, caw . . . caw, caw, caw!  Maybe yes, maybe no.  I didn’t get the full message, but I do know I wasn’t being asked if I lift.

For the record I find ravens fascinating.  Like this one here, she’s obviously a big fan of Morrigan Ravenmy work in progress because she knows one of the covens is named after the Mórrígan, which is a good name for a coven of witches, as The Mórrígan  was a goddess of battle, strife, and sovereignty, and I know the young ladies–and a few of the guys who sneaked in there–are all so happy about that.

For the record the Åsgårdsreia Coven was named so in honor of the Valkyries and the Wild Hunt.  This means the witches of Åsgårdsreia, most of whom were and are women, take pride in their shieldmaiden status, and give it to the Mórrígan witches as good as they get.  No word yet if anyone has fought an Åsgårdsreia witch and told them, “Can’t hurt me, bro,” only to be told, “I am no bro.”  Should work that into the story.

Speaking of my current story, there are a few teachers who are Mórrígan legacies.  The most famous at the moment is the one whom I’m writing about at the moment, Helena Lovecraft, the Head Sorceress.  She’s the sort of person who’s taken the whole Goddess of Battle and Strife line right to the limit, and then a little beyond that.  She shows up to teach class in jeans tucked into black boots, a simple pull over, and a leather jacket, because she can.  It’s how she rolls.  And right off the bat, she likes to get the class set straight:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Taking one step back from the front row, her stacked boot heels clicking against the wood floor, the professor finally spoke. “I’m Helena Lovecraft, and I’m a sorceress.” She took hold of the lapels of her jacket. “I’m a damn good sorceress, and that’s not just a brag—that’s over twenty years of working for The Foundation as one outside Salem.” Her black eyes shifted back and forth, as if she expected someone to challenge her. “You may address me as Professor Lovecraft, or Professor. I’m certain, however, that by the end of this month most of you will have another name or two you’ll call me once you’re out of earshot.”

Unlike the other instructors Professor Lovecraft didn’t pace back and forth, but stayed in one spot as she spoke in an accent that Annie though sounded vaguely Australian. “Before we get into today’s lecture, let me get a few thing out of the way. First off, I’m from New Zealand—hence the accent. I’m of mixed ethnicity: my father is a Caucasian Kiwi by way of his family in England, and my mother is indigenous Māori. My mother was the second Māori to attend Salem: my grandmother was the first. Both were sorceresses; my grandmother was the Head Sorceress here for a few years.” She watched the students to see if anyone was going to speak, and saw the boy from the other day appearing like he wanted to speak. “You . . .” She gave him a slight grin: she knew his name, but wanted to appear as if she were searching her memory. “Kerry. You have something you want to ask?”

His face reddened as he realized he’d been called upon, but he recovered quickly. “Does your mother and grandmother have tattooing? And do you?”

Perceptive boy. “We all do. My grandmother has the traditional woman’s ta moko, but my mother and I follow a bit less traditional path.”

It was left to Lisa to blurt out the question that more than a few children had on their minds. “Wait—you have tats?”

As Helena turned to address Lisa her eyes narrowed. “I don’t have ‘tats’; there isn’t a bloody pink unicorn inked on my arse. Mine is ta moko, traditional Māori markings that are unique to me. Unlike tattooing, they were carved into my skin using uhi—chisels to you—so my skin has grooves.” She shook her head. “No, this goes well beyond the tattooing you see in the west. An expert in ta moko could look at my markings and know my life story in an instant.”

She didn’t wait for more questions on the subject. “Second: I am not related to Vivian Lovecraft, the founder of Åsgårdsreia Coven and co-founder of this school. My father discovered that particular Lovecraft family came from Northern England, and my father’s family is from near Bath. There is no blood relationship, so don’t ask.

“Third, I am also not related to another family Lovecraft known to these part, the American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Again, his family came from a completely different part of England that my father’s family. While I would love to claim that ‘Lovecraft Country’ is a part of my heritage, I’m afraid the answer is no. I’ll have to settle for the reality in which I live.

“And lastly . . . While I am from New Zealand, I know nothing of the Lord of the Rings. I know there are books; I know there are movies; I know the movies were filmed in my country. Beyond that, I know absolutely shite about the story, or any of the people who were there making the movie. I don’t know Gandalf, I don’t know Legolas, I don’t know any dwarfs or bloody hobbits. Evil magical rings, though, I do know: they’re rather easy to make. If you want one, come see me. And remember what people say about getting what you wish for . . .”

 

How many teachers are telling their students to come see them for an evil rings?  Mine do, because they figure if you’re dumb enough to want one, you deserve whatever curse she throws into the damn thing.  She’s already made the Hell Shawl (soon to be found on Etsy, $19,95, you pay shipping and subsequent petrification), so cursed items are a snap.

Though I can tell you, by the end of this scene there’ll be some cursing–

And Helena won’t be the one doing it.