The Loneliness of the Dark Minions: the Setup

It is raining here in Camp Hill, this Forth of July, but that won’t keep the die hards from blowing off their fireworks later today, and maybe blowing off a finger or two in the process.  These videos serve to remind us that there’s not a lot of difference between the backyard collection you’ve got sitting in a cardboard box and a FAE kicked out the back of a C-130, and that you should always use caution when lighting off your explosives.

I keep a safe distance from my stuff, but I always tend to go big . . .

I keep a safe distance from my stuff, but then I tend to go big . . .

In my fictional universe there are no fireworks, at least not today.  It is, however, the day after Wednesday’s discussion with my kids, and if it’s Wednesday after B Level Wednesday, that means it’s Thursday morning B Level Sorcery, and guess who’s playing minion this morning . . .

 

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

They were only ninety minutes into B Level Sorcery, and Annie was feeling as if the class were about to explode. She recognized the reason for the tension, and a possible source for the detonation. Her concern was whether or not the situation could be defused.

The reason had begun the week before, when Helena began teaching the basics of Cold Fire, its creation, its use, and its misuse. While Annie had found Cold Fire to be a simple spell, she’d watched most of the students affecting various stages of confusion. The confusion turned to eye rolling the moment she informed them that they needn’t worry, because in the next class they’d get help for their lab . . .

When Helena stopped them as they were leaving the Dining Hall on their way to the Witch House and said she wanted to speak with them, Annie knew they were about to be asked to do something beyond acting as lab minions for the day. She was right: as soon as everyone was in their seats Helena called Kerry and her to the front of the class so they could demonstrate how easy it was to create Cold Fire. Anne produced her floating ball of blue fire without any problems, as did Kerry, and while Professor Lovecraft used this as proof that they’d be able to help anyone having issues trying to craft the spell, Annie knew no one would ask for help, for she saw that refusal on the faces of their fellow students.

During their before-class discussion Helena told them to be as unobtrusive as possible and help only if they were asked, and that was exactly what Kerry and she did, wandering about the classroom and examining the progress of the others. The professor informed them that she didn’t expect anyone to get the spell right, since she normally didn’t get serious about the Cold Fire spell until after C Level Yule holiday, but Annie saw a few students who appeared to almost create a small fire in the shielded dishes they were told to used as the focus point for their spells. For these levelmates Annie wanted to offer her services, but did as Helena requested and remained silent.

 

When Annie is having a bad feeling, it’s probably not going to be a good day.  Kerry might say her spidey senses are tingling, but he’d listen to her every word on the subject because he trusts her judgment completely.  Which is probably why . . .

 

Kerry slipped up beside her and nodded towards their seats in the far front of the room. As they moved in front of them Annie threw up a small privacy spell so they wouldn’t be overheard by the rest of the class. “Yes?”

He looked at Annie with some concern. “How you feeling?”

She snorted. “Bored. I want something to do besides watch everyone doing . . .”

“Nothing?” He looked past her shoulder towards the other students. “I know what you mean. I don’t want to watch everyone failing.” Kerry’s left fingers glided surreptitiously along Annie’s left arm. “I’ve gotten too use to seeing someone succeed all the time.”

“Not all the time.” She peeked towards Helena’s desk, where the Head Sorceress sat stone still. “I wonder if she’s taking a nap.”

“She doesn’t seem all that interested in what’s happening in class today, that’s for certain—”

“More interested than you might believe.” Helena stood and stretched as everyone in the class stopped whatever they were doing and looked towards the front of the room. “Since you’re all looking this way, that means I have your attention. I have ‘sorceress business’ to do, so—” She glanced in Annie’s and Kerry’s direction. “—the minions are in charge.” She waved open the door. “Back in a bit.” As soon as she was in the hallway the classroom door slammed shut.

 

So The Mistress of All Things Dark just ups and blows town, ’cause she had to perhaps use the bathroom?  Whatever.  I does seem like she’s setting up the kids–maybe she expects to return and find the Salem B Levels have received a true practical demonstration of Cold Fire–

And then Acts Two and Three can just be Annie and Kerry rotting away in jail for the rest of their lives.  That would certainly reduce how much I need to write in the future.

And then Acts Two and Three can just be Annie and Kerry rotting away in jail for the rest of their lives. That would certainly reduce how much I need to write in the future.

Pretty Little Kill Machines

Here I am, sitting in the car dealership at eight-forty in the morning, getting new tires on my ride in preparation for the return to Red State Indiana next Saturday.  There are so many things running through my mind at the moment, and I’ve been up since five getting them sorted.  I’ve written, I’ve sent off birthday wishes, I’ve thought about what I’m going to say here–oh, and it’s an anniversary of sorts today, for sometime today, right around noon is my guess, I’ll take my twenty-forth hormone injection, and that will make one year down, baby.  I’ll make sure to get pictures, trust me.

Also, for comical relief, I post this text transaction of an eleven year old girl burning down her boyfriend for hanging out with another girl.  When I saw this yesterday the first thing that came to mind was, “This is why Annie doesn’t have a mobile phone.”  After all, I wouldn’t want her going crazy on Kerry after she went through the trouble of buying his Starbucks, ’cause as we know, Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino equals True Love, and one does not screw with the heart of a girl who goes to those lengths to show said love.

Then again, she doesn’t need a mobile to go all Dracarys on someone:  Annie knows how to toss real fireballs.  When she burns you down, it’s literal as hell . . .

Wednesday mentioned to our lovey dovey couple that people in their level may be afraid of them, it brings to mind a certain scene where these two went nuts on a few Walkers in the middle of a test, and Annie’s reaction to people recoiling in horror from them was short and definitive.  Wednesday knows all about that test:  she saw the video, and it was one of the reasons why she pulled them into Advanced Spells.

Believe it or not, Wednesday knows the feelings of which she speaks, as she’s been there–

 

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

Wednesday slipped a cover onto her container. “Just like you, people felt intimidated by me—and there were a lot of people who were scared.”

“Of you?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

Wednesday grew serious for the first time either of them could remember. “Because I killed someone.”

The minions exchanged looks, but it was Annie who responded. “That was during The Scouring, right?”

Wednesday nodded. “Yeah.” She smirked. “I killed the Head Sorceress.”

Kerry seemed almost ready to gasp. “You did?”

“Yeah. I was heading back to my cover and he confronted me, my coven leader, and a friend of mine outside the tower. He killed both of them using Blood Hammer and was about to do me when whipped up a spell.” Wednesday looked away for only a moment, then looked directly at both children. “I created a vortex around him and flayed him to death with dirt and little rocks. It’s not the best way to go out, but . . .” Her jaw clenched. “He deserved that.

“The next school year, I was a D Level and was asked to do my minion duty then—though we didn’t call it ‘minion duty’, we were just lab assistants. I was helping A Level and things we okay until about the start of October, and then it was like a switch was flipped; no one wanted my help for anything. Isis told me later that she’d heard word got around about me killing the Head Sorceress, and people—especially the A Levels—were suddenly scared of me. Even the B and C Levels started tip-toeing around me. It was like I’d went from ‘Wednesday the Good Witch’ to “Wednesday the Killer Bitch’ overnight.” She shrugged. “I eventually took that year off from helping out in the lab because it bothered me that no one wanted my help, and I had to deal with the why of the situation.”

She moved closer to her students and spoke in lower tones, as if conveying wisdom that she wanted only them to hear. “I know Helena likes to cultivate a bad ass rep, but that’s the way she is: she’s never given a shit if anyone likes her, particularly the students, because she’s not here to be liked—she’s here to make good sorceresses.” Wednesday paused long enough to give her minions a warm, gentle smile. “Yeah, there are a few people who won’t ever like you for one stupid reason of another, and more than a few who’ll be scared of you because of your abilities and actions, but you can’t let it get to you—” She gave them both a comforting pat on their shoulders. “It’s not personal: it’s just the way things are.”

Wednesday levitated both closed containers to the open storage cabinet in the corner and closed the door. “One thing you gotta remember when you’re teaching—”

Kerry glanced at Annie before responding. “What’s that?”

“Do you want to be liked? Or do you want to be effective?” Wednesday chuckled. “Just a slight bit of paraphrasing there, but in the end, it’s true.” She held out her hands. “It’s lunch time and I’m buying. You coming?”

 

Annie looks up to Helena, and being the Good Dark Witch means she strives to keep a little fear wrapped around her presence.  Sure, Kerry killed a bad guy, but everyone save a few people think it was one of those accidents that just happened.  Most of Annie’s “Bad Witch” rep comes from going after Lisa in the middle of The Rotunda, and getting extremely chummy with The Mistress of All Things Dark.  If any of the students really knew what Annie has done in the last year, they’d likely stay the hell out of her way–

You wouldn't like her when she's angry.

You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.

New Kids On the Job

We’re almost to the long weekend time here in America, and I’m a bit remiss in saying that yesterday was Canada Day, so to my friends North of The Wall I say, Sorry, So Sorry, I didn’t mean to miss you.  Also, today is I Forgot Day, so you have to forgive me.

In case you’re wondering today is also World UFO Day, and you should be watching some old 1950’s science fiction and, if you can find it, check out the late-60s television show The Invaders, which was scary as all hell.  And, of course, the British show UFO is a must:

The show that told me I should show up at work these days looking like this.  I should.  I really should.

The show that told me that in the future this is how women would look.  I should show up at work one day dressed like this. I really should.

Also some personal stuff that’s important to me is coming up as well, such as today is five months for me since I came out at work.  Almost half a year–yay!  So much is happening so quickly, and I have to say that I am loving some of this stuff, even if there is some heaviness in my heart.  But that’s for another post.  Onward.

Today–at least in my mythical Salem School world–it is Minion Day.  That is to say, Professor Wednesday Douglas has herself some minions for B Level Spells, and gee–can you guess who they are?

 

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

Wednesday checked the B Level lab one last time before walking towards the ground floor library. The day was cloudy and cool outside, and inside—well, there were more than a few students who’d be less clear and a lot hotter. Today was the first time she’d taken the students through the basics of minor levitation, and even though they were doing little more than attempting to lift tiny plastic spindles, only a quarter of the students were able to get at least one good levitation, and out of that group only one person was able to repeat the action—

She didn’t think it was a coincidence that Emma Nielson was also the only student today to ask for assistance from her two minions. Speaking of which—

Wednesday popped her head through the doorway and caught the attention of her two little helpers, both whom were reading. “Hey, minions.” She waved them towards her the moment they looked up from their books. “Help me get the lab straightened up, okay?” They sent their books back to their respective locations on the shelves before following her out of the room.

 

It’s the end of class and lunch in on high, and it’s time for Teacher and Her Pets to get the lab back in order, which they do using magic.  It’s also during this time that Annie brings up a point:  no one asked them for help.  Well, one person did, and that’s not really discussed, except to say Kerry blows it off, as does Annie.  Wednesday, however, is thinking about that, and about Annie’s question, and comes up to the follow conclusion:

 

Wednesday didn’t want to drag up any hidden enmity that might lie hidden within either Annie or Kerry concerning his Åsgårdsreian wingmate. She wanted to keep everyone focused on Annie’s questions, and not those who could become the subject of discussion. “It’s really a complected answer; there’s no easy reason. Part of it being intimidated by what they’re doing; part is being intimidated by the people who I bring in to help.” She waved her container onto one lab station and turned to Annie. “Remember what it was like when I brought in minions last year.”

Annie appeared a bit puzzled. “We didn’t have minions in spells class last year.”

“Right—not in your class.” Wednesday leaned back against a lab table. “You had already moved on to Advanced Spells by that time: you were minions.”

“Minions to be.” Kerry stood next to Annie, joining the conversation. “We just didn’t know it at the time.”

“Exactly.”

Annie closed her eyes as her head shook in short, quick twitches. “So no one wanted our help because they were intimidated by the spell and by us?”

Wednesday’s shrug was almost imperceptibly. “I would say some of the kids in this class are intimidated by you both. I’m also sure there are a few who just don’t like you and don’t want to do anything with you. And . . .” She’d considered not bringing up this last point, but ignored her concern because she was fairly certain it wasn’t a tremendous revelation for either of them. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a few in your level who are probably scared of you.”

 

This last point is a good one, because, if you think back, it’s one they’ve already touched upon–

And maybe we’ll get to that tomorrow.  After all, I do have the day off.

Shoot Down the Firing Line

Right before midnight there was a hell of a storm here in The Burg, and one bit of lightning went off that must have been right above the apartment, because the flash and bang were almost simultaneous.  Great way to see the first half of the summer out, right?  Doesn’t make for good time trying to get to sleep, however.

So the last two days I’ve skirted with the thousand word limit.  The day before last I had nine hundred ninety-eight; last night it was nine hundred eighteen.  Close, but not quiet there.  However, those thousands add up after a while, and with three more scenes left in Chapter Nine, I have a good shot of ending Act One right at eighty thousand words, especially since I crossed seventy-five thousand, four hundred words last night.

This also means that, sticking with my two weeks per ten thousand schedule, I’ll finish Act One in the upcoming week–right before I have to leave The Burg and head back to Indiana for some personal business.  I could even start Act Two while on the road.

But what about the end of Act One?  Where is Kerry?

Ginger Hair Boy got snapped at by Chestnut Girl, and neither are pleased that it happened.  But that’s the breaks when you’re training hard, and all the training, and learning, are in your hands.  Best then to take a time out . . .

 

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

“Yeah, you did.” Kerry chuckled. “Because it’s true.” He reached across his body to pat her hand. “Can we take a break?”

She tugged on his arm. “Let’s go sit in the viewing gallery.”

There were a dozen chairs in the viewing gallery, each big enough for a single person. Kerry chose one against the wall opposite the entrance. He held tight to Annie’s hand. “Sit with me.”

She eyed Kerry, then the chair. “There isn’t enough room for us both.”

“Sure there is—” He sat and patted his thighs. “Join me.”

Annie held her hands tight against her belly. “You want me to sit on your lap?”

“Sure.” He glanced up through the top of his glasses. “It’s not like you weigh a lot.”

She slid into his lap, chuckling as she wrapped an arm around his neck. “This all right?”

“You’re fine.”

“As long as you’re comfortable, my love.” Annie rested against his shoulder. “What’s bothering you?”

“I don’t know.” He slowly slipped his arm around Annie and held her close. “I just don’t get why it’s so hard—I know I’m seeing it correctly in my head.” He sighed. “How did you figure out the right visualization for blood coming out of the body?”

“Well . . .” She leaned in close and whispered. “I have some experience with blood coming out of the body.” She kissed the side of his head. “Like now.”

Kerry’s eyes rolled up for a second before turning just enough to see Annie’s face. “Oh, yeah: I forgot.” He snuggled his head against hers. “I did check this morning, Sweetie—”

“I know you did; you always do.” A soft sigh slipped out from between pressed lips. “You always make me feel good.”

“Except I got you upset.” Kerry began to smile as he felt his frustration slowly drain away. “I didn’t want to do that; I don’t like doing that.”

 

Once upon a time Kerry mentioned to Nurse Coraline during “The Talk” that he was aware of Annie’s cycle–and isn’t it a good thing he didn’t mention that to his mother?  I’d also mentioned that, knowing Kerry, he probably went and set it up on a calendar somewhere, so he’d know when Annie Dim Red Tides were upon high.  But noticed:  he didn’t blame her snapping at him on that; he says he knows he made her upset, and he’s chilling on anything else.

But there’s something else afoot here . . .

 

Annie shifted her body so she didn’t cause Kerry too much discomfort. “You didn’t, love: not really. I was—” She set back several centimeter so she could better see his face. “It was as if I could feel your frustration. And as you grew more frustrated—”

“—It affected you.” He chuckled. “I could feel it coming off you.”

Annie didn’t want to discuss what she felt from Kerry, or what he felt from her: she wanted to discuss the reason why they were here, and what she thought might be the source of Kerry’s frustration. “May I make an observation?”

He chuckled. “You can make as many as you like.”

She sat up, no longer leaning against her soul mate. “Whenever you’ve had this—problem—in the past, it’s not because you don’t know how to craft the spell: it’s because you’re over-thinking the spell.”

Kerry pushed himself back deeper into the chair, his expression changing as he eyed Annie. “Like the first time you spoke with me in Spell Class a year ago.”

“Yes—” She nodded slowly. “Just like that time.”

“Yes.” He leaned back and stared at the ceiling for several seconds as he remembered the time a couple of weeks after the start of Beginning Spells, when Annie took him aside and explained the difference between being a technical and a natural witch. How being a natural witch meant not seeing magic as a series of steps one needed to craft in order to perform a spell, but more of a feeling that magic should just happen a certain way . . .

Kerry slowly pressed the palm of his right hand into his forever. “Ohhhh . . .” He closed his eyes and exhaled. “I’ve been so stupid.”

 

You are stupid, Kerry–stuuuupiiiidddd!  Yep, with a little help he thinks he’s got it.  And what is “it”?  Pretty much what you think it is–

 

She slipped off his lap and stood. “Let us go then—” She helped Kerry to his feet. “My love.”

They reentered the test area and Kerry proceeded directly towards the table with the practice torsos. He examined the torso on the right as if he were looking for flaws and imperfections. “I think I got this.”

“Do you?” Annie stood slightly behind him and to his left. “Do you really believe you know this?”

He glanced over his shoulder. “Yes—” He turned and stared at the torso for about fifteen seconds before slowly drawing back his left arm, keeping his hand close to his side. He held it there for a few seconds, then pushed it forward, twisting his hand around palm-upward once his arm was fully extended.

The moment Kerry’s arm became fully extended, blood began running from the torso’s nose, then started to pour from its ears and eyes as the chest and arms turned red with blood oozing from the pores. The pulsing heart began slowing as the light grew lighter. Ten seconds after the Exsanguination spell hit the torso, the light faded away as the heart ceased beating.

He turned to Annie, a huge smile stretched from cheek-to-cheek. “I do.”

She returned his smile as she began bouncing on the balls of her feet. “What changed?”

“Over-thinking.” He turned back towards the torso. “Way too much.”

Annie stepped next to him and took his hand. “How so?”

“By doing what I did back at the start of spells class, Sweetie. Here I’ve been thinking about Exsanguination the same way oxygen moves from the cells through the walls and into the tissue . . . I was trying to work the spell the scientific way, and it was all wrong.” He gave her hand a squeeze before throwing his arm around Annie’s shoulders. “This time I just thought about blood pushing through everything and pouring out into and through the body—” He shot an excited glance Annie’s way. “You put enough blood into the body, and even if it doesn’t ooze out of every pore, it’s gonna come out somewhere eventually. Right?”

 

One might say there’s no science in magic, and for the most part they’re right.  And even as good as Kerry can be at times, he still slips back into old habits–which is what happened here.  He’s trying to come up with some strange ideas of how the blood permeates the arterial membranes, when what he needed to see is blood being drawn out of someone’s body.  He figured it out, and he wants to move on–

 

“Yes, it will.” Annie turned and gave him a hug. “I knew there was something like that holding you back.” She leaned back, her face beaming. “It’ll take about ten minutes for the torso to soak up the blood, so you can use the other one—”

He shook his head. “No.” He looked over Annie’s shouldn’t. “I want to try the homunculus.”

“You do?”

“Yes.”

Annie backed away slowly, her eyes fixed on Kerry while she teased him with her words. “You do the spell right one time—”

“And I know I can do it again.”

She straightened her back and shot a stern look his way. “Farm Boy, I had better see his homunculus dead.”

He did a quick half-bow. “As you wish.”

 

Sure thing, Princess Buttercup:  you get that blue cabinet open . . .

 

Annie skipped over and planted a quick kiss on his cheek before turning towards the cabinets. “Let me unlock the door—”

“Not the blue.” His eyes shifted to his right. “The red.”

A moment of uncertainty passed over Annie’s face. “You really want a Tracker?”

“Why not? It’ll give me an incentive to get the spell right.” He rolled his shoulders, getting loose. “I mean, the worse that can happen is it’ll touch me and the enchantment will knock me out, right?”

“Right as rain.” She unlocked two of the red cabinet doors and began walking back towards Kerry. “I’ll get hidden so it doesn’t track me, then open the door.” Annie glanced to her right and examined Kerry’s mood. He’s not the least bit nervous—just like when we were in Kansas City. “Are you ready?”

He sighed out his eagerness. “Yes.”

Annie vanished from sight; five seconds later one of the unlocked doors opened and the homunculus stepped out.

Kerry was well aware of how these things worked. An enchantment keep the homunculus from noticing anything until they were about two meters from their cabinet, at which point they locked onto anything breathing. They’d continue following people around until they were either put down, or they came into contact with a person—at which point an enchantment carried by the homunculus rendered them unconscious, often with a variety of special effects.

As had happened many times during A Level Self Defense class, the homunculus detected Kerry after taking a few stepped away from the cabinet. The teenage-sized humanoid, attired in a light-blue paper coverall, headed towards him in a slow walk. He wasn’t fooled by their slow, steady movement: thought he was only four meters away, if he didn’t move the homunculus would be upon him in about ten seconds.

Having a Tracker coming his way put him under pressure to act—and to make everything work right.

He took a single step backwards as he visualized the effect the spell would have. He drew on the dark energy needed to power the spell. His crafting nearly complete, all that remained was to exert his will upon his crafting, and . . .

Kerry kept his hand close to his side this time, pressing his palm in the direction of the homunculus. Blood began flowing from the ears and nose, but it didn’t gush as it had with the practice torso. Now three meters away, the homunculus staggered slightly, but the lose of blood was only enough to slow the creature in its forward advance.

He took another step backwards and quickly re-crafted. He wasn’t rattled: his mind was clear and worked through his VEW steps rapidly. He drew in a breath, held it as he prepared himself, and pointed at the homunculus as if he were ordering it to sit.

Blood squirted from the nose, ears, and eyes. Red spots began appearing across the coverall as blood flowed from the pores, and small streams of blood flowed down the legs and dripped over the ankles. The homunculus took three staggering steps and slipped to the right, crashing to the floor. It twitched twice then lay still, leaving Kerry to stand over the homunculus and stare down at it in much in the same way he’d once done to a student during A Level Sorcery class.

 

Standing over a student in Sorcery Class?  Maybe one who is writhing in pain on the floor?  Yeah, that’s the Dark Kerry we’ve seen before, and he’s finally back.  He’s not only got this, but he knows something else:

 

Annie appeared at his left, having dropped her light bending spell. She hooked her right arm around his left. “I would say that was a successful use of Exsanguination.”

Kerry humphed. “It wasn’t perfect.”

“No, it wasn’t. Took you about twenty, twenty-five seconds to drop the target.”

“Yeah.” As much as he wanted to celebrate his accomplishment, he knew what was necessary. “I want to do it again.”

“I thought you might.” She turned him until he was facing her, then kissed him on the lips. “You’re becoming like me.”

“I’ll never be as good as you.” He kissed her back. “But I do want to get it right; I don’t want a repeat of the Link Bridge.”

Annie nodded. “Neither do I.” She pulled him closer. “Like it or not you are like me.”

“And I know what you would do—”

“Do you?” She nodded and released his arm, then hung both arms around his shoulders. Where the other kisses were quick and playful, this time she kissed him slowly and with enormous passion. My dark witch has learned his lesson

She broke the kiss but kept her eyes close as she breathed in his exhilaration. “Were you thinking of something like that?”

Kerry kissed her on the nose before glancing towards the red cabinet. “That was great, but . . . you need to set up another Tracker for me.”

Annie lightly pushed away from Kerry and performed her own little bow. “As you wish.”

 

Nothing like using a metaphor for “I love you” while learning spells designed to kill people, right?  One could say they are entirely too happy about this success, and a few people would be right:  they are happy.  There could be a myriad of reasons why, but sealing off the Firing Line for these two to wreck havoc was probably done not so much to keep them from being distracted, but to keep other students from seeing that they might just be having a little too much fun.  There’s also the kissing parts, too–at least this time they’re not covered in blood.  (I would still love for someone to draw that picture of them embracing after the zombie fight.)

So here we are:

Closer to the end, for sure.

Closer to the end, for sure.

And I’m really shooting for finishing this act up next week.

But first:  minion duty.  Maybe.

Regretting the Firing Line

It wasn’t all the busy yesterday, and I was in one of those afternoon funks where I didn’t feel like doing a lot.  It does seem like afternoons are not good for me; most of my writing is done in the morning and evening these days, and the rest of the day is spent for running around and relaxing–or taking deep naps, if you want to look at it that way.

Though, once more, between what I wrote in the morning an what I wrote in the evening, I still managed to add about a thousand and fifty words to the story.  If you consider that I also managed close to a thousand words on my first review–yeah, I know:  shut up.  Just shuttity up, up, up.

Go about your jobs, Cassie.

Back to the Firing Line, where things are not going well . . .

 

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

There were times early on during his A Levels when Kerry felt worried that he wasn’t getting spells right, or fearful that he was going to screw up something and had a spell go sideways on him. There were even times he considered the possibility that he simply wouldn’t get the spell, and never figure it out.

Today, just over a year after he began understanding how to craft spells, and do magic, he encountered an emotion that he’d yet to experience:

Frustration.

 

We saw Kerry, early on in the last book, get frustrated with magic–not a lot of times, but it was there.  We saw Annie get flustered once when she couldn’t get a spell.  Both times the other was there to help out, and they got through their moments.

When you’ve been around someone long enough, however, sometimes you forget they have those moments.  Kerry is sort of like, “I don’t remember the last time this happened to me.”  Unfortunately, Annie’s feeling the same way, and she’s also getting a bit flustered by his inability to bleed out his practice torso.  Maybe Annie should try another approach:  “My love, why don’t you just bleed that torso out.  Do it for me?”

But that’s not what happens:

 

His last attempt produced the same results, causing him to flip his hands into the air. “Ah, screw this.”

Annie wasn’t about to accept his comment as the last word. “It’s all right. Let’s try again—”

He shook his head. “I’ll get the same result.”

“You will if you think that way.” She crossed her arms as she shifted her weight from foot to foot. “Please, try again.”

He stared blankly at the torso. “I’m just gonna do the same thing—”

“I know you know you can do this.”

He half turned and scowled. “I’ve been trying—”

You aren’t trying hard enough.”

Kerry almost recoiled as Annie snapped. She didn’t shout or yell: she didn’t even raise her voice. But her tone let him know that she wasn’t pleased, and that he needed to work harder. Instead he lowered his head and stared at the floor, wondering what he was doing wrong, why he couldn’t get the spell to bend to his will—

Annie was there, along side, with a light touch on his arm and a soft and comforting look upon her face. “I’m sorry, my darling. I shouldn’t have spoke that way.”

He leaned his head towards her and shrugged. “It’s okay, Sweetie.”

“It’s not. I didn’t mean that.”

“Yeah, you did.” Kerry chuckled. “Because it’s true.” He reached across his body to pat her hand. “Can we take a break?”

She tugged on his arm. “Let’s go sit in the viewing gallery.”

 

You’re always hardest on the one you love, right?  We’ve not seen that with these two, but of the two it seemed likely that Annie might be the one to get a little . . . stern with Kerry.

Perhaps they can talk about it when they walk back to the Pentagram for dinner . . .

"It's okay.  You were right:  I should have been able to bleed out that dummy and kill it--"

“It’s okay. You were right: I should have been able to bleed out that dummy and kill it–“

Ah, young love:  doing spells and killing homunculus together.

It doesn’t get any better.

Preparing the Firing Line

It all feels a bit strange this morning, as I progress with the development of the novel, and in particular the latest scene.  According to my record I’ve written almost sixteen hundred words since yesterday morning, and yet, it feels like I’ve written almost nothing.  Perhaps this is due to having a lot on my mind of late, and feeling a lot of distractions all around as I work upon this final chapter of Act One.

Also, last night, I was screwing around with a map route an trying to fill out the spell list, so that only added to the feeling that all is not as well in Salem as it should.  What is more likely is that I’m just freaking myself out over nothing, and given that I’ll probably start on the next scene this afternoon, as well as start on my first television review of the AMC show Humans tonight, this later hypothesis doesn’t require a great deal of testing to ring true.

But you don’t want to hear that, do you?  You want to see, not be told.  Seeing it is, then.

Homunculi and training torsos are in place, and Professor Chai has jaunted out of the house.  What does this mean?  You know it won’t take long to get to that point . . .

 

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

Now that they were alone, Kerry decided it was time to ask questions. “What’s up today, Sweetie?” He came over and joined her. “What’s up with—” He ran a hand lightly over the red cabinet. “—these?”

Annie took a deep breath before answering. “I spoke with Helena Tuesday night while you were in class. She wanted to know how our development was coming along.”

He didn’t need to ask about development in what. “You mean in sorcery?”

“And in transformation magic. We told her and the others last school year that I would teach you and you would teach me.” She gave him the slightest of smiles. “Helena wanted an update on where we were.”

“And what did you tell her?”

“The truth, my love. I said including the spells we learned in class last year, you knew Shadow Ribbons and Cold Fire, that you knew how to charge a Fireball and Air Hammer with dark energy, and that you could do the same with normal spells. Along with Physical Shields you were developing Minor Spell Shields and that you’d start on the major version of that . . .” She paused only long enough to catch her breath. “I also said that as far as Morte spells were concerned you were well versed with the minor version of Electrify, but that you hadn’t quite mastered the spell, and that you were starting to develop Exsanguination.”

 

As pointed out yesterday, it’s scary enough to know these two can toss around fireballs powerful enough to light up a large bonfire, but then you add in the Shadow Ribbons and C0ld Fire and dark versions of shields and Air Hammers, and it becomes a bit more frightening knowing how formidable they are–which, of course, a majority of the school doesn’t know, but can only guess.

But what about these death spells?  Well . . .

 

Kerry dropped his gaze towards the floor. He’d kept his birthday promise from last year, when he’d told Annie that he’d walk with her and become a Guardian—as she had put it, she wanted him to be “her Dark Witch—but learning Exsanguination hadn’t progressed beyond the visualization stage. He pointed to the cabinets. “I guess it’s time to do more than start developing.”

“Yes, it is. Helena said she wants you to reach my understanding and use of the spell as soon as possible: Her reasoning is that, should the need arise, we’ll complement each other with equal knowledge of both Morte spells, and that will make us more formidable should we—” She slowly arched her brow. “—run into another situation where we need those spells.

“While I teach you that, she wants you to help me improve my mastery of Electrify, since you have a better understanding of the spell.”

 

There you have it:  Helena worries they may encounter another . . . situation . . . and so the best thing to do is be more bad ass.  Just wait until Helena has kids of her own:  those will be some scary youngsters.  Just like Mom was when she went to witch school.

But is that all?  Of course not!

 

“It’s not.” Her gaze locked on to that of her soul mate. “I’m going to show you how to do Shadow Net, which is another Shadow Discipline, and can be used to restrain or capture someone. There’s also Blend With Darkness, which is also a Shadow Discipline and works something like Light Bending.”

“Why do we need that if we can already bend light?”

“It’s far harder to detect, especially at night. At low levels you are invisible and you can move seamlessly from shadow to shadow, but at higher levels you become completely insubstantial.” Annie’s eyes twinkled as she grinned. “Helena said it’s just like being an astral form within the Physical Realm: people can walk right through you and never know you were there.”

Kerry couldn’t help but smile as well. “Like being a ghost.”

“Exactly. Now, that’s what I am supposed to show you—” She tapped him on the chest. “You, my love, are to show me what you’ve learned as far as Minor Personal Transformations are concerned. We know you’re working on changing your features, because Jessica is speaking with Helena so she’s aware of everything you’re doing that class.”

“Guess I can’t hide anything from you guys.” He pulled Annie close and wrapped her up in an embrace. “How do you want to do this, my little pumpkin?”

 

No, death spells aren’t enough:  time to rock those transformations and Shadow Disciplines.  Blend With Darkness was what Isis used during The Scouring, but she could, and still does, only use it at a minor level:  as Annie mentions, once you’re using it at higher levels, you are a shadow.  And how does one combat a magic wielding shadow?

Just ask The Doctor:  he hates fighting shadows.

Become one with the Vashta Nerada.  And eat all the chicken you like.

There’s also transformation spells that Kerry is learning that, according to what Annie has learned from Helena, will allow him to change his features.  Meaning what?  Remember Jessica showing up at last year’s Samhain dance looking like a Na’vi?  Or Emma looking like a katana-swinging, zombie-killing woman of color?  Those are pretty good examples of “changing your features,” and if they figure these out quickly, they could be very popular with other students looking for costume ideas in a couple of weeks.  If not, there’s always next year . . .

The novel sort of looks like this now–

Moment by moment, scene by scene.

Moment by moment, scene by scene.

And what’s this?  A subscene!  My first of the story.  Given that it’s called Dark Witch Frustration, it could mean that Annie or Kerry, or both, are running into a bit of difficulty with this particular lesson–

Enter the Firing Line

This has been a crazy week, and yesterday was probably as cray-cray as any day I’ve seen–but I mean that in the best of ways.  It started out with a crying jag at seven-thirty, and ended with a swollen face that needed considerable icing–

I believe, "Stingin' like a mofo" is the technical term for how I felt.

I believe, “Stingin’ like a mofo” is the technical term for how I felt at the time.

But I got my brows shaped as well, and because of holidays and travel in the upcoming weeks, I don’t go back for more electrolysis until near the end of July, so I can give my face a rest from the last nine session of having a small probe pushed into your face followed by having a hair pulled out–something I actually watched for about three minutes last night.

On the way to and from my session I thought about the scene I’m working on now.  It goes to a place that was only mentioned in passing in the first book, but now we’re finally getting a look at the Firing Line.

Right there in the upper left-hand corner.  There's no reason why it's placed away from everything else--why do you ask?

Right there in the upper left-hand corner. There’s no reason why it’s placed away from everything else–why do you ask?

As mentioned in the scene Annie and Kerry where their to show Wednesday they could toss fireballs with the best of the D & D wizards, and if you don’t think a majority of students didn’t feel a bit of a chill watching those two light up those Beltane bonfires, you’re not thinking this out.  Mom and Dad Malibey should watch those personal questions in the future . . .

It plays out in the scene that Annie has requested Kerry’s presence here on a Thursday afternoon, which, you’ll eventually discover, is free time for them.  If you have free time, might as well fill it up, right?

 

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

The interior was as sparse and unadorned as the exterior. The entryway was a large viewing gallery situated behind physical glass enhanced with enchantments. Beyond that was nothing but open space sixty-five meters long and sixteen wide, insulated against every destructive magic known. They passed through the viewing gallery and headed into the main structure. They weren’t alone: Professor Chai was there standing next to the covered work table and two large, color coded cabinets. Annie wasn’t surprised: she expected to find the self defense and weapons instructor waiting for them. “Hello, Professor.”

“Hello, Annie.” Professor Chai tilted her head slightly to the right. “Hello, Kerry.”

“Hello, Professor.” His attention shifted to the cabinets next to the small instructor. “What are those for?”

 

Glad you asked, Kerry–

 

“Training.” She looked at Annie as she spoke. “Here you go, just as Helena requested: training torsos and homunculi.”

Annie gave the professor a quick nod. “May I see the torsos?”

“Certainly.” Professor Chai pulled back the covers revealing the two training torsos, which weren’t actual torsos as they were human-looking bodies minus limbs. They looked a great deal like the one she’s practiced on at home—though that one never had the slight discoloration in the center of the chest see saw now. “Beating Heart option?”

“Yes, just like on some of the homunculi you practiced on last year.” The Beating Heart option allowed students to see how close they were to “killing” their homunculus: a strong pulsing red meant they were in full health, but as their health deteriorated the pulse would grow weaker. “These, like the ones in the cabinets, are modified so the color becomes lighter as they lose blood. That will give you an idea of how well you’re doing with your spells.”

“Good.” Annie moved towards the nearest cabinet, which was dark blue. “Why the different colors?”

“Different homunculi. The ones in the blue cabinet are Roamers; they’ll wander about aimlessly and won’t take action against you. The ones in the red are Trackers, and you know all about those—”

Kerry moved closer to the red cabinets. “These are the Walkers, aren’t they?”

“Yes: the zombies Annie and you dispatched so readily last year.”

 

Boy, do Annie and Kerry remember those zombies:  the test that set them apart from the rest of their levelmates, put them on a different path than everyone else, and left more than a few students retching in the aftermath of the bloody mess they left behind.

But what’s happening here?

You’ll have to wait and see what else I have to say . . .