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.

Great Blue Balls of Fire

Last night into the groove back I was, yesss, urrummmm.  Or something like that:  it’s always fun to Yoda-up something into complete nonsensical gibberish first thing in the morning, because that’s usually how your mind is working anyway, so go with the flow I say.  It’s easy.

Hit the floor running with nearly a thousand words again.  It probably wold have been more, but I had a couple of paragraphs where I first wrote it out, didn’t like it, rewrote it, still wasn’t happen, and wrote again.  There were a few of the passages with magic that I totally didn’t care for first time around, so they got the polish before I moved on.  I know, you’re not suppose to do that:  you can suck when you write your first draft.  Except I try to keep the suck to a minimum before it becomes my first draft, so I go back over things while I’m writing and make this less sucky.

It works for me, but I’d never tell anyone to change their way of writing.  Keep on keeping with what you do, folks.  Just keep filling pages with words.

But before the magic, Annie had to know why Kerry thought she could pull off the spell.  And . . .

 

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

“Because . . .” Kerry knew he couldn’t say anything without giving a reason that made sense. “You’re better than me.”

Annie wanted to chuckle, but she saw Kerry was completely serious. “How am I better?”

“You just are.” He struggled for the words to express what he wanted to say. “Not just in magic, but you’re more clear, more even tempered—look how you figured out things in class today. That’s one of the things makes you a good witch.”

There was something Kerry was leaving unsaid; Annie felt his nervousness, saw the way he fidgeted. “There’s more?”

“Um—”

“Yes?” She softened her tone, hoping to relax her soul mate. “You can always tell me anything.”

He raised his hands as if he expected something to fall into them at any moment before letting them flop to his side. “You’re, um, more . . .” He mumbled the last word. “Loving.”

Annie’s hand slowly slipped off her hip. “I’m not any more loving than you, Kerry.”

“You know how to express yourself better.” He turned away, blushing. “I’m just—”

She lifted her heart locket so he could see it clearly. “The one who thought of something nice for my birthday. The one who had it engraved with our names and ‘With Love’. The one who’d never bought a present for a girl in his life, and surprised me with this.” She lay it against her skin. “No, Kerry: you know how to be loving in your own way.” Her grin was slight but full of happiness. “Don’t ever think you’re not.”

He nodded slowly with his head slightly lowered and his gazes centered on Annie’s shoes. “Okay. I won’t.”

“Kerry—” As when they were on the mat earlier in the morning, he looked up when Annie spoke his name. “I love you. You—not an image of who I think you are. Never, ever forget that.”

 

Awww, now we know what he engraved on that locket.  He’s so adorable in his clumsiness.

Now that you’ve got the lovey-dovey stuff out of the way, best getting to magicing, Annie:

 

Annie took two deep breaths and released them completely, clearing her mind and cleansing her body. She closed her eyes and focused on the vision she was creating in her head. She saw everything clearly: the room, the shelves, the fire pit, the wood—Kerry, herself. Annie had it in her mind—

Now to add something else.

She raised her hands next to her head and began pushing energy into the air above the fire pit. Annie began crafting a sphere at about chest-high over the pit, working the energy she pulled from mystic space into the form she desired. She didn’t worry about levitating the sphere: her willpower was enough to anchor it in within physical space. The energy began to take physical shape as a small ball and quickly grew into a swirling mass of gray, brown, and red sixty centimeters across. She’d built the base—now to give her creation life.

As this was sorcery, Annie needed to feed the spell dark energy. She reached out as if to grab her magical ball and pulled deep into the space where the dark energy resided. She pulled upon this power and forced it to flow through her fingertips and into the sphere. She saw the sphere change color, taking on a dark purple shade. It’s all there; it’s ready . . .

Annie pushed her will into the sphere, forcing it to match the vision in her mind. For a moment nothing happened, then the sphere contracted slightly before flaring with an soft whoosh into a bright blue ball of writing fire.

She sighed as she slumped onto her right leg. She started shaking her hands, sighing louder this time. “There it is.”

Kerry took two steps towards the floating blue ball. “That’s cold fire?”

“Yes, it is.” She joined Kerry in admiring her work. “It’s so—”

“Perfect?”

She chuckled. “I was going to say ‘beautiful’, but I’ll take perfect, too.” She ran her hand near the sphere, centimeters over the surface. “It is perfect, isn’t it?”

“I’d expect nothing less from my Dark Witch.” Kerry placed his hand next to the fire. “It feels icy.”

“It’s suppose to. The exterior is cool to the touch, but stick your hand just a few centimeters inside—” She pulled hers away. “It’s probably one hundred fifty, two hundred centigrade there. You’d burn yourself severely.”

 

See?  Leave it in a ‘fridge disguised as a blue bottle of beer, someone reaches for it, reaches through it–two thousand degrees centigrade, you burn their hand right off.  The fun you can have with magic!  And in this world, cold fire is something you could kill a person with:  Annie’s little fire ball could easily be used against a bad guy if she knew how to throw it, and if she could hit her target.

Nice to know you have twelve year old kids running around this school who can kill people with cold fireballs.  Then again, Annie did says she’s studied something known in sorcery as Exsanguination, which is listed in my spell list lexicon as category “Sorcery (Morte)”–Morte being a death spell–and is described as, “Causing a person to bleed out for various body openings.”  Like nearly every pore in your body.  Usually fast.  Usually until you stop bleeding due to lack of blood.

Not to mention they were clubbing zombies with air enhanced wooden sticks and splitting skulls and bodies in half.  So . . . what’s the over-under on them completely losing their shit and going on a thrill-kill run through the city of Salem?  Just kidding:  they’d never do that.

Not that others wouldn’t . . .

How did I ended things last night?  Like this:

 

Kerry was next to her, playing with a lock of her hair. “You need a rest?”

“No.” She ran her fingers over his wrist. “I feel great.” She leaned into his hand. “You going to help me with this?”

“I think I know what you need—but can we work together like that?”

Annie had explained the concept of working together to craft a spell many times in the last couple of days. She knew this part would go faster—and probably turn out better—if Kerry were helping her craft the spell. “We’ll do fine, love.” She pointed to the other side of the fire pit. “You know what to do.”

He nodded then got into position. “Ready when you are.”

“All right.” She waved a hand at the bucket. “Here we go . . .”

 

More magic!  Let’s go, let’s go!

And keep those fireballs to yourselves.

It's hard enough coming up with this stuff without having to worry about magical kids trying to kill me.

It’s hard enough coming up with this stuff without having to worry about magical kids trying to kill me.