Before getting into any details, allow me to show you where the novel is after this first day of the new year. For one, I have reached this milestone for the act:
With the nearly thousand words added to this new scene last night, the act just made it over the seventy-nine thousand mark, and I should be close to eighty by tonight. I’m going to say that being close, or at, eight-five thousand words by the end of this chapter isn’t out of the question, and the four remaining chapters would pretty much guaranty I edge over one hundred thousand words for this part before the final words are typed.
Which brings me to “Where am I with the novel?”
Three hundred and eight-six thousand and change. And I’m ready for a change as well. Trust me, sitting down to crank out what it pretty much five eighty thousand word novels has been an experience.
But what sort of experience are we having at my school? Glad you asked.
It’s Beltane, or more importantly, it’s eleven PM on 30 April, and the school is getting ready to light the big bonfires. And come to find out, a certain headmistress really gets into this celebration:
All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
Of the festivals held at school, there was no secret that Mathilde enjoyed Beltane the most. Some people said it was because it marked the point where there was only a month of classes left, and she was eager to returned to her husband and daughters. Others said that she loved that it represented the coming of Summer, and even if the weather wasn’t cooperating this year, it wouldn’t be long before she could enjoy throwing on a tank top, shorts, and sandals, and go for a walk and be alone with her thoughts.
The real reason was far more vain, however. Blodeuwedd Cover was responsible for setting up the Beltane festival, and when she was a student and member of Blodeuwedd, she always threw herself into event planning. Within the coven itself the celebration was known as the “Headmistress’ Festival,” as the school’s first headmistress, Rhiannon Fettle, was also the founder of Blodeuwedd, and she helped establish many of the school’s traditions current traditions.
Three hundred and twenty-eight years later—and for the tenth time since becoming headmistress—Mathilde ascended the elevated podium that allowed her to see every member of the school—the students and faculty—and begin the festival with perhaps the most important of all the Beltane traditions. “Good evening, everyone.” She scanned the group of students standing before her and smiled. “Beltane is a wonderful time: it marks the beginning of summer, and it marks the beginning of the final month of classes. It is a day indicative of change and renewal—and this represents is the same for out students. Our E Levels graduate in a few weeks, and will head out for their year of Life Experience Travels. All others will return home, leaving another level behind with the anticipation of returning for a new one in a few months.
“But that change begins here, this evening. As it has been for over three hundred years, in the hour before midnight on the last day of April, the two huge bonfires erected here in Selena’s Meadow are set ablaze. One represents what we are leaving behind; the other represents the changes that wait for us ahead. These will burn until midnight tomorrow night, and will serve as a focal point for our celebrations.
“As Beltane represents approaching change, it has been the school’s tradition to select two students to light the bonfires using magic. And as this celebration also represents improvement of our selves, we chose two students who did not come to us proficient in magic, but who have come to Salem as new students, and have spent the months and years developing and improving their skills.”
She turned around and nodded at the instructor standing near the podium stairs. “I will now have Wednesday Douglas come forward and announce whom she has selected for the honor of starting our Beltane celebration.”
In another story–well, okay, novel–I wrote about Salem, you discover that Mathilde was actually suggested to run the school by one of the instructors, that person being Jessica. You have to wonder if she, or any other student, ever sat in their room at night and thought, “I wonder if I’ll ever run this place? I’d love that.” And with Mathilde coming from the same coven as the first headmistress, you could see how presiding over this event makes her feel especially proud.
Now Wends is getting up there, and she has two students picked out to light the fires. And . . . any guess who they are? Any one?
Wednesday joined Mathilde upon the podium and stepped into the speaking field. “Thank you, Headmistress.” She turned to face the gathered masses. “As the Spellmistress here, I am responsible for finding the school’s youngest witches who not only know the Fireball spell, but have the ability to control it with expertise and dexterity. And I have found those students . . .”
A tablet appeared before her, floating within arm’s length. She grabbed it and pulled up the information waiting. “This year, the honor of lighting the Beltane bonfires fall to Annie Kirilova and Kerry Malibey, both A Levels of Cernunnos Cover.” Wednesday pointed towards the crowd and motioned to two marked out areas about fifteen meters from the bonfire locations. “Children, will you take your positions and do us the pleasure of lighting the Beltane fires.”
Now, wait: they’re going to throw fireballs? We know Annie can do that with Cold Fire, but Kerry? Nope, not in his repertoire. Then again, Wednesday did say Fireball spell, which isn’t Cold Fire. So . . .
Annie and Kerry stepped out of the crowd and headed for the partitioned areas. People noticed right away that they brought their normal habit by Kerry going to the left area, and Annie going to the right, but Wednesday and a few other instructors knew that they did this to keep their dominate hands away from the others.
As if on cue they held their hands before them and pretended to shape a sphere. A few seconds later a tiny dot of energy appeared in the middle and began growing. In less that ten seconds both children kept suspended before them a ball of glowing orange fire about a third of a meter across, which they then turned over and held hovering above the palm of their dominate hands.
They held the fireballs over their heads for a few moments as each fireball grew a little, both in size and brightness. They held them overhead, then turned their heads towards each other before drawing back and throwing them in the direction of the tremendous piles of wood. The fireballs arced through the air, growing larger as they neared their target: by the time their struck they were more than a meter in diameter. They splashed across the surface and burrowed into each pile, setting them alight and bringing them to full burn in just under twenty seconds.
Wednesday didn’t hear the scattered applauds from the students: she kept her eyes on her two special students, watching them carefully. They met each other and hugged before milling with everyone else—many of whom gave them wide berth as the disappeared into the fold. She turned and headed down the podium stairs to the meadow, where she knew she was about to be accosted by the coven leaders, and a few other instructors, wanting to know how and where Salem’s most well-known A Levels learned a Fireball spell . . .
Yeah, wait: only nine days before they were in a throw-down with bad guys and gals, and not was Fireball was cast. So what gives? Were they holding out? Perhaps they didn’t want to burn the place down and just kept quiet? Or . . . was something else involved?
I guess if I write the rest of the scene tonight, you’ll find out tomorrow.