Scientifically Magical

It’s a rainy day here in The Burg, much as it was last week at this time.  The year is winding down; there isn’t much left to this 2013.  That’s fine by me:  while it’s not been the worst of years, I need to see some better times in ’14.  We all need a little happiness, and I could use some right about now.

Chapter Eight is underway.  I’m almost nine hundred words into it, and it’s time for chemistry–ah, excuse me:  Formulistic Magic.  That’s what it is called, and don’t call it that P Word, or . . . well, you’ll see.  Because this is Erywin’s class, and she is not a woman to be messed with:

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

It was after performing at the Ostara Talent Celebration, while she was a D Level, that a student from Ceridwen told Erywin Sladen that she seemed most at easy when she was on a stage. Erywin didn’t argue: she loved being up in front of everyone performing. She loved singing. Most of all, she loved showing those students who’d spent so much time pissing on her, trying to bring her down, simply because they felt she was “wrong”, that she didn’t give a solid shit about their opinions, and she was the dog’s bollocks when it came to what she knew.

Those days were well behind her now. Most of the students who’d worked hard to make her life hell went off to do little jobs for The Foundation. Some had gotten married and had children, and some of those children came back to Salem. All of those children ended up in her class—

Most of them made even it through every level of her class with passing proficiencies.


Not many instructors think of themselves as the dog’s bullocks, which is to say she’s the best at what she does.  That’s how she is:  sometimes a little bit crude and maybe even rude.  And when she says students spent time pissing on her . . . well, you’ll have to wait for her back story.  Yes, I know it.  No, I won’t tell you.  Wait for the book in which it comes out.

What are the kids doing in this class?  Erywin has a bit of an explanation:

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

 “There are two great constants throughout the known universe: physics and chemistry.” Erywin walked slowly across the front of the room as she spoke in her clipped English accent, her long cardigan covering her plum silk blouse and ending just below the hemline of her thigh-length skirt. “Physics defines how the universe works: chemistry defines how it lives.” She turned slowly towards the front row. “Everything that was used to create this world, everything that makes it habitable—everything that defines you as a biological organism, was brought about by chemical reactions.

“Elements are brought together in reactions, and those reactions are the basis of reality. Chemistry is reality. When we use formulas to create existing substances, we are conforming to an existing reality. When we develop new formulas to create substances that have never been seen before, we are building a new reality.

“And when we apply magic to these formulas, we are reworking reality and bending in into whatever form we want.”

Erywin slowly headed down one of the aisles between the work tables. “Formulistic Magic is just that: the creation of formulas, improved by the introduction of magic. Of all the courses you’ll encounter during this level, this has the greatest level of ‘mad science’ that you’ll encounter. Yes, you’re taking Introduction to Astronomy, but any wild science you encounter is passive—this is active. This is applied.” She stopped and gazed upon the faces staring back at her. “Everything here is of your own doing.”

She walked behind the last of the student and began heading back to the front of the room. “You will create products that will give you vitality or tear you down. You will create products that can heal or harm. You will create products that will dissolve most anything that’s ever been made, or bind them together so they are almost impossible to separate.” Erywin stopped and slowly turned, taking in her class. “I’ll show you how it’s done.”

One of the biggest difficulties I had last night was trying to get her speech to sound normal.  It sits in your head, nice and neat, and you think it’s going to flow right out of your fingers and onto the page.  You believe there’ll not be any problems.

You’ll find that you’re wrong.

It seemed as if I had to fight the words out once again.  The funny thing is my fingers seem to want to do something else when I’m figuring out what I’m going to say.  I want one thing, they try typing something else.  I think that actually says more about my typing skills, which seem to grow suckier by the day the more I use them rather than the other way around.  There are times when it drives me mental, but I survive.  At least I’m not doing this on paper with a typewriter, ’cause I’d end up broke buying Whiteout.

There’s something else you need to know about Erywin–remember I said never use “the P Word” around her?  Yeah . . . one of the students didn’t get that memo:

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

One of the girls spoke. “What is all this equipment for?”

“Those are the tools of this trade.” Erywin moved closer to the center work table in first row. “Mortars and pestles, test tubes, burners, flasks, beakers, condensers, adapters . . . you’ll be shown how it works and how to use it all.” She smiled. “By the end of this course you’ll have developed a complete understanding of how to mix any formula, and how your equipment will assist you to create your product.”

The girl didn’t seem that convinced, but she said nothing. Another girl, however, had questions. “So when we’re making these potions—”

No.” Erywin slapped the work table surface: the sound was loud and sharp, making some students jump. “This is not a potions class. We don’t make potions here. We are not mixing bloody eye of newt or unicorn hairs, and you’ll not find powered dragon bone in anything we’ll create. While there are some old-school witches who still call what they do ‘potion making’, I’m not one of them.” A disgusted look crossed her face. “Potion making is bullshit fantasy—” She extended her arms, her hands held palm up. “Look around: do you see any fucking cauldrons? No.  What we are doing here is scientific magic.”

Did I mention Erywin sometimes swears in class?  Yeah, she does that.  Think less kindly Professor McGonagall and more acerbic Patsy Stone–in fact, I envisioned Erywin as looking a bit like Joanna Lumley in her late thirties, early forties.   She has a bit of an edge to her, but believe me, she’s a nice person.

I’d never lie about that.

Almost never.