Dark Witch Warnings

Based upon how the last post ended, and given the title of this post, we’re about to get into some crazy here with Annie–but, before that happens, there’s and important matter than needs addressing first.

It was a year ago today that I finally decided to start living as me, and today was when I finally came out at work and didn’t have to hide from anyone.  So today marks one year of what we like to call Real Life Experience–which, by the way, is the same thing I call the student’s from Salem’s year on the road after graduating from school.  Funny how that works.

In case you’re wondering, since yesterday marked a year of Mondays since coming out, and took a photo at work to show how I looked yesterday, and put it alongside a photo I took on 2 February, 2015:

And here you go.

And here you go.

A lot of people said I look more relaxed in the “after” picture on the right, and I have to agree.  And while I’ve put on a little more weight–I know this to be true, I don’t have to see it in the photo–it’s also apparent my boobs are bigger.  Yeah, boobs!

Anyway, enough about me.  Let’s get to the Rumble in the, um, Bay.

Annie wants to talk.  Emma probably doesn’t, but since Annie locked her ass inside the hospital bay it’s a good bet she’s gonna hear what Annie has to say.  And that starts now . . .

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

“I come from a racing family: my father and mother learned to fly here, my father raced here, and in the Normal world racing is his profession. I am not a racer, but I know how things can get between competitors on the course during a race. I know people can lose track of conditions and what they are doing and find themselves in trouble.”

Annie took a second to draw in a breath before speaking in a slow, low tone not unlike the one Kerry used earlier. “After Lisa wrecked Kerry last year Vicky and I spoke, and she told me that if Kerry went out for racing I had a choice: I could be the ‘Crazy Girlfriend’ who went after everyone who wrecked him, or I could accept what happened and let it go. I chose to be the second person, because it wouldn’t help Kerry if everyone he raced against had to worry about me. I didn’t want that, and I accept that what happens to him during a racing is one of the possible outcomes of the sport.

However . . .” She moved a few centimeters closer, coldly staring upward into Emma’s eyes. In the last few months the American girl started growing and she easily stood six centimeters taller than the still diminutive Bulgarian girl. This not only didn’t bother Annie, but any advantage it may have given Emma was completely forgotten. “In the last year and a half Kerry’s found himself in three accidents with you, and each time he had to be hospitalized—all brought about by an idiotic move on your part. I’ll admit that I was upset with you both the first time, because Kerry could have avoided the by not racing you. The second time, though, that was your fault, and you even admitted that it what happened was your fault.

“Now this. I watched the race; I saw what happened. So did the rest of the school. And while I said nothing, there were more than a few people who felt you hit Kerry on purpose. Why would you? The only think that comes to mind is you felt Kerry represented a threat to you finishing the race ahead of him, and you . . .” She slowly cocked her head to the left. “What? Needed to eliminate him? Is that it?

 

We finally hear that not only did everyone in the school see her move on the course, but a few people also thought she was gunning for Kerry.  And that’s a bad thing for Emma, because now she’s gonna get labeled as “The Bad Girl of Salem Racing”, which is what she was warned about.  There are some people in professional racing who love being the drama llama of the course, but that doesn’t last long, because it’s only a matter of time before other racers are spinning your ass out or stuffing you into a wall, and a few concussions later you start getting your act together.

Kerry’s already had a couple of bad concussions and they’re not fun.  Maybe he needs to give one to Emma to even up in that area.  Though it looks as if Annie’s gonna beat him to that–

 

“I don’t care what happened out there on the course, nor do I care to hear your reason. I do know that it stops now. If you both should wreck because you’re racing hard and one of you makes a mistake, that’s understandable, but if Kerry should wreck once more because of an idiotic move on your behalf—” Annie floated off the floor so that she was eye-to-eye with the now visibly frightened girl and leaned in until their noses were almost touching. “—I will find a way to call you out. I will get you out to the Manor and on to the mat, and I don’t care how many champions you have stepping up to defend your honor: I will take them out, and I will continue doing so, until I get to you.”

Her eyes narrowed to mere slits. “And then I will hurt you. I will hit you hard: I’ll hit your hips, your chest, your legs—and your knees. I will cripple you so that it takes you a few days to get back on your feet, and once you’re healed the memory of what happened to you will remain so intense that you’re going to remember the experience for years.” She paused long enough to inhale and exhale slowly. “Do you understand?”

Her hands shook as Emma tried to bring herself to speak. “Ye—yeah.”

Annie’s tone turned icy. “Yeah?”

For a quick second Emma acted as if she were struck across the face. “Yes, Annie—” She was on the verge of hyperventilating as she forced out the last two words. “I understand.”

Annie floated back about a meter from the terrified girl before landing. She removed her privacy spell and swept open the bay curtain with a twitch of her fingers. “Leave.” As soon as Emma was out of the bay and off the ward Annie resealed the curtain and took a moment to return her composure to normal. She turned towards her bed-bound soul mate and discovered him chuckling.  “What do you find so amusing?”

 

And then I will hurt you.”  Up until this point Annie has not threatened another student with bodily harm.  Yeah, she’s lost it on two occasions and just started doing things–liking starting to bleed them out while strangling them or firing up a different death spell–but she’s never come out and said, “I’m gonna hurt you.”  She’s crossed that Rubicon and put someone on notice, and at the same time she’s let them know she doesn’t give a shit how may people get thrown at her in the process, she’ll get her girl and make her regret her life choices.  Or maybe something else?

Yeah, something else.

In the meantime Kerry is doing what?  He’s chuckling.  What do you find so amusing, dude?

 

Kerry motioned to her. “Please come here.” As soon as she’d joined him and was comfortably sitting on the edge of the bed he wrapped his arms around her torso and held her close across his chest.  “My Dark Witch: I finally got to see her angry.”

It was Annie’s turn to chuckle. “That wasn’t angry: that was notably perturbed. You’ve yet to see me angry.”

He nodded. “Uh, huh.  And if you had been angry?”

She rested her head against his shoulder as she gazed deeply into his eyes. “There would have been blood.”

“Well—” He quickly smiled. “Good thing you weren’t angry.”

“This time—” Annie stretched up and gave him a relaxing kiss. “I’m proud of you.”

“Because to told her off?”

“Yes. And because you weren’t afraid to tell her that she needed to change—or else.”

“It was necessary.” He looked away and signed.

 

Here we learn two things.  One, Kerry found Annie’s threats amusing because he got to see her angry.  And two:  Annie wasn’t angry, she was perturbed.  So when she’s coldly telling another student she’s gonna cripple them, she’s not mad, she’s just . . . perturbed.  Angry means there will be blood–

"And none of it will be mine."

“And none of it will be mine.”

That means when she’s really pissed at Emma, the blood death spell will likely put in an appearance.  And Kerry’s like, “Good thing you weren’t mad.”  Which is pretty much what Erywin has probably said to Helena from time-to-time when the latter has felt the urge to light up some stupid git who wronged her.  You’re finally getting to see what a couple of sorceresses are like together.  “Sweetie, I know you’re upset, but it’s not a good idea to strangle a person with a shadow ribbon–at least not in public.”  “Yes, you’re right, my love.”  It’s means you’ve always gotta check yourself before you wreck the shit out of others.  And since we know Annie can flat out kill someone in about fifteen seconds–if not faster now–it means from this point on she’s gonna really keep those emotions under lock and key.

The really scary thing here is that of the two, Kerry is the emotional one.  Good thing he’s got Annie to show him how to hold that all in.  Oh, wait . . .

This scene is just about over.  Just a little more to do tonight and I can put these kids to bed.

But I’ve finally pushed them over a line.  And there’s no going back.

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–

The Altered Path

It’s been an interesting time last night and this morning.  It seems that I’m too tired to write at night, but on these weekends I’m getting a lot of writing done–although “a lot” is probably a misnomer, as I’ve only written eight hundred words in ninety minutes.  Not exactly Stephen King-level wordsmithing, but I suppose if I kept it up like he does for an eight to ten hour day, that would work out to almost sixteen hundred words every three hours, and around five thousand in ten hours.

Not bad, if I should say so myself.

But this was a tough scene to write, because Annie’s suppose to say things to Kerry, and say them in a rather nice way that doesn’t make her come off like a Bulgarian Bitch.  She needs to tell him something important–one of my astute readers has already figured out what–but she has to do it in a good way, and as we’ve already seen, Annie can be fairly blunt at times.  Except when it comes to her Ginger Hair Boy, then she sort of pulls back and tries not to let him have it too hard, while at the same time saying, “No, Kerry:  bad Kerry.”

But first off:  did Kerry deliberately kill that Deconstructor in Selena’s Meadow back when he thought he was safe from being eating by one of Cthulhu’s Minions?  And how did Annie figure out that she things Kerry smoked the dude on purpose?  The answer is pretty easy, actually . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry continued staring at his hand being held by Annie. He finally responded in a whisper much like hers. “How did you find out?”

Annie pressed her cheek against his for a moment before pulling back. “I figured it out.”

“When?”

“The Monday following the attack, during Flight Class.”

Kerry slowly turned so he was looking at Annie. “How? How did you figure it out?”

“Remember how I was waiting for you to come out of the locker room before the daily briefing?”

“I remember.” That was one of the few moments about that class that Kerry did remember completely. He’d felt so strange changing into his flight gear, which a few days earlier had been covered in blood and brains, and given that he was given a lot of space to as he changed made him wonder how the class would go for him. “It was a strange day.”

“It was indeed. You didn’t know it at the time, but Emma walked out right before you did. Everyone in the room knew what had happened to her, but only about half stopped what they were doing and watched her take her seat. It wasn’t like when you came out—everyone stopped talking. I don’t think you realized how quiet the Ready Room became right then, because you had pulled into yourself.”

He nodded. “Yeah, I was trying not to pay attention.”

“I know. You weren’t looking at anyone as we headed for our seats—but I was. I caught the few stares focused on you, could sense what they were thinking. I also saw Vicky . . .” Annie paused, taking a moment to breathe and think. “When Emma came out, Vicky was looking at her like she was happy that she’d survived her ordeal and has returned to fly another day.

“But when she looked at you— I caught her expression for just a second, but it was enough. She looked like she knew something about you, like there was a secret she was holding, and she was afraid someone else would find it out.” Annie lightly ran her fingertips over the back of Kerry’s hand. “She was sad and worried all at once—and the moment she realized I’d seen her, she shifted her expression back over to what she’d shown when Emma walked out.

“While we were sitting in the briefing, I remembered a moment we’d had back in the hospital after Emma wrecked you racing. Coraline said to Vicky, ‘I know you checked the flight data,’ and I realized she would have done the same thing with your broom the moment it was recovered from Selena’s Meadow. She would have wanted to see where you’d traveled, where you hid after you nearly crashed, she’d want to know everything. The fact she had the information that got us here proves she did.”

She inched closer to Kerry, pressing against his arm as she comforted him. “I know she would have examined your path when you tried to return to The Diamond, and when you tried getting away from the Abomination . . . and right before you ran into the Deconstructor. She would have noticed if you’d actually flew straight into him, or if you’d changed your path towards him . . .” Annie rested her head against his shoulder. “She would have seen that you altered your path, that you flew towards him, that you chose to hit him.” She kissed him on the cheek. “That’s how Vicky knew, and that’s how I knew.”

 

Annie is bright, and she’s observant.  She’s also aware of the emotional baggage that her soul mate carries around, and she tries not to add to that if at all possible.  The fact that she thought she’d figured all this out six months before and had kept it to herself shows she didn’t want to burden him with more troubles.  She probably would have said something had he started freaking out with night terrors and the like, though it’s likely that Coraline and a few others knew the truth along with Vicky–if that truth did indeed exist.

And did it?

 

Silence filled the clearing as Kerry removed his hand from Annie’s and slid his arm around her shoulders. “I saw the guy pretty well, because I’d looked over my left should to see what was happening behind me, and when I turned back there he was—standing with blue flame in his hand.” He pulled her closer. “I knew one of the other two people was Jessica; I was using low light on my goggles and I could tell by her height and complexion. I didn’t know who the other person was: one guy had cold fire, and he was getting ready to use it on Jessica and whoever she was helping.

“If I’d kept flying straight I’d have flown between them. I didn’t know if I’d been hit; it wouldn’t matter, since I could have flown over them. I did know that he was going to hit and burn them, and I knew what cold fire would do, so he was going to kill them. And I couldn’t let that happen, so . . .” He twisted and reached across his body so he could hug Annie with his other arm. “I shifted my path to the left a little. I didn’t think I was going to hit him in the head, though: I thought I’d hit him in the shoulders or chest, something like that.”

Even with her face buried against his flight jacket Kerry could feel Annie smile before chuckling. “What is it?”

 

I’ll get to the “What is it?” in a moment, but there’s the truth:  Kerry saw the guy, knew one of the people in his firing line was Jessica, and he altered his path to intercept, as any other flight jock might say.  Tough choice to make, and there weren’t a lot of options open.  And there’s another fact that plays out here:  If Kerry had tried to run and leave that scene of death and destruction behind, would he have lived?  Or would he have had a Morte spell thrown at him as he tried to jet away into the darkness?  Even I can’t say, because I wrote the scene the way it was written, and there’s no need for speculation.  So it is written; so it is done.

Now, what was Annie chuckling about?  Well, not what you think.  She gets there, but only after laying out her own truths:

 

“I’ll tell you in a minute.” Annie relaxed and rested against Kerry. “You knew early on that I was a witch, but I never mentioned that I wanted to be a sorceress because I didn’t want to reveal too much, or confuse you.” She turned her head, rubbing her cheek against his. “And as you’ve likely guessed, I want to be a Guardian. I thought about the possibility when I was teaching myself Exsanguination, and once we were asked to do the field operation, I wanted it to be more than a possibility: I wanted to make it real.

“I know what it means to be a sorceress, and when I started learning a Morte spell I understood that one day it might be necessary to use it—and if so, I couldn’t hesitate using it, because my life could depend upon its use.

“To be a sorceress means to use spells against other people: we learned that the first day of Sorcery class. It means you may find it necessary to use Morte spells against Deconstructors, Berserkers, and those people who turn on The Foundation and go rogue. It means you have to stop them, any way you can.” She pressed her head against his shoulder. “It means if it becomes necessary to kill someone, you have to do so without hesitation.”

 

Ambitious Annie, almost a teenager and knowing what she wants to do with her life.  It probably also answers the question of whether or not she’d have gone on the field operation had Kerry said no.  Then again, we don’t know if she would have said yes had Kerry said no–and one day I’ll actually give the answer to that question.

One day.

But Annie’s not finished:  now she gets to the most important part of her conversation with Kerry–

 

Annie twisted away from Kerry and sat directly in front of him, cross-legged. “During our battle on the Link Bridge you hesitated. I know you know this, because you’ve already said you’ve thought about the battle, and you understand your actions. I don’t know if you hesitated because you were unsure if you could craft the Electrify spell properly, or if you were, as you say, trying to do too many things at the same time.” She reached out and took Kerry’s hands, the one he’d kept sitting in his lap, and set them against her legs. “Or, lastly, it could be you hesitated because you knew you’d need to take his life.”

“Kerry—Erywin was down, I was down, it was you and the Deconstructor. You know what they’re like, you know what they’ll do to us: they’ll kill us without hesitation. Which is what he tried to do to you, and would have done to Erywin and me as well. My love—” She gave his hands a squeeze. “If I had been knocked out instead of stunned, you would be dead. You’d be dead, Erywin and I would probably be dead. Even if we hadn’t died, I’d have had to deal with loosing you, and that’s something I don’t wish to contemplate.

“This is why I asked if you want to be a good sorceress, because if you want to be good, you can’t ever hesitate like that again. Because the time will likely come again when your life, and perhaps the lives of others, will depend on whether you’re good or not.”

There it is:  she lets him know that he could have died and maybe gotten them killed at the same time.  You know, last year at this time, Kerry was probably sitting down for dinner, maybe having a favorite dish because it was his eleventh birthday, and while he was munching on his cake he was thinking that he was gonna see Annie in his dreams and she’d have a birthday kiss for him.  Quiet a difference from sitting in a tiny clearing hearing about how he almost died and maybe, just maybe, almost caused the deaths of the people with him.  Not exactly the sort of birthday goodness one would expect.

What is the end result of this conversation?  This:

 

Annie moved close enough that they were nearly sitting in each other’s laps. “I don’t expect you to walk my path; I know there are things you want to do that I won’t, and there are things I want to do that you won’t. But . . . you have the abilities of a great sorceress, and it would be a shame to let your skills go to waste.” She leaned closer. “Do you want to be a good sorceress?” She closed in, brushing her lips against his cheek as she whispered. “Do you want to be my Dark Witch?”

 

Annie is pressing home her question, and doing it as nicely and sweetly and . . . well, in a way that should leave Kerry with no misconceptions that she’s angry–it’s pretty much the opposite.

And he gives his answer–

 

Kerry sat there breathing slowly, his eyes half closed, his hands locked tightly around Annie’s as he considered her questions. He didn’t wait long to give his answer. “Yes.”

She didn’t pull back from her place so close to him. “Are you certain?”

“Yes, I’m certain.” He swallowed hard and sighed twice before continuing. “I screwed up; I know I did. I hesitated because I wasn’t certain I could craft Electrify, and . . .” He shook his head. “I screwed up: I won’t do it again.”

Annie had to extinguish all her doubts, however. “It wasn’t because you were afraid to kill him?”

“No. I knew he’d kill us: I knew they would all try.” He turned his head just enough so he could see Annie so close to him. “I can do this, Sweetie. I can.”

“I know you can.” Annie kissed him on the cheek. ‘Do you know what I was laughing about before?”

“No, what?”

“The Day of the Dead, you left from here and ended up risking your life fighting a monster you’d never seen before, all to save someone’s life. And ten minutes after that, having been chased all around the school—tired, frightened, scared you’d never see me again—you made a quick decision to save two more people.  You did so without hesitation, and you did so at the risk of your own life again.”  She touched his arm. “You thought like a Guardian, my love.”

 

And that is the truth:  Kerry did risk his life to save several people that day, and in both instances he could have been killed.  Hell, he faced getting killed three times that day, and while he might not have thought his last action was going to put him in the hospital, he didn’t know for certain.  He acted in each instance without giving it a lot of thought.

Now . . . just so it’s addressed, one could argue Annie used her feminine wiles to manipulate Kerry into choosing to do something that he’s really mature or emotionally stable enough to handle.  After all, Annie was pretty touchy-feely with the, “Do you wanna be my Dark Witch?” question, and it’s easy to see how someone could say, “She totally used his hormones against him!”  It’s possible, but I could argue that Annie’s not that manipulative, and she’s never tried that on Kerry before.  Or maybe she has, but she’s been a lot more passive-aggressive about it, and this is the first time she’s known she’d have to push him hard to get him to do something without making it look like she was trying to get him to do something . . .

Maybe Annie's a Overly Attached Magical Girlfriend?  Do we want to find out?

Maybe Annie’s an Overly Attached Magical Girlfriend.  Do we want to find out?

I do know the answer to this question, too, because I know what Annie’s thinking.  But here’s where the pain comes in:  that particular question will never get answered at any point during their attendance at Salem.  But it is answered–

When both of them are in their thirties.

That’s not that long to wait, is it?

Aid Time, Angry Annie Aftermath

I’ve been rocking out on David Bowie this morning, writing to Station to Station, and now blogging to Scary Monsters and Super Creeps.  Both brilliant works, and standing up to what passes for music today.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in this time that I love the work so much, but the truth is I wasn’t a huge Bowie fan as a teen, and it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve been able to revisit his catalog and revel in his brilliance.

Why am I bringing up Bowie?  No reason.  Just into the music this morning as I grow closer to the end of Chapter Twenty-Two.  The penultimate scene is finished, and all that remains is the last scene, Intervention, then I can move on to the end of this long and dangerous day for my kids.  As for now, Annie’s part in this chapter is over, but Chapter Twenty-Three is almost all her observations of ongoing events inside the Great Hall as night falls.

Until then, she has to resolve these issues she is having–like whether or not to rip Emma’s lungs out and squeeze them . . .

 

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

Annie never let her emotions rule her; she never allowed them to driver her impulses. She’d told Kerry that she never cried, and it was also true that she was never angry in the ways that people understood anger. She wouldn’t scream or shout, but rather turn cold and keep her fury contained.

But now . . .

She’d never been in the position of having someone she loved put in a position of danger that could lead to injury or death. Kerry was out there, on the school grounds, perhaps with an Abomination after him—or maybe it had caught him and he was lying in the forest dead and . . .

Either way, alive or dead, whatever was happening to Kerry was due to this girl . . .

Annie pull Emma’s jacket tight around her throat. Her eyes never left those of the frightened and now-drugged girl, and Annie resisted the urge to shake and scream at her for being such a silly, stupid, ignorant girl, but she kept the words she wanted to yell at the top of her voice within her thoughts. How could you do this to Kerry? How could you not listen to him? How could you leave a safe place and lead him to his death

A hand tightened around the back of Annie’s neck and she was ripped away from Emma. She was pulled away from the triage area and towards the West Transept; a few seconds later Coraline spun her around and shook her roughly. “The hell is wrong with you?”

Annie quickly gathered her wits about her and realized what was happening. “I—”

“I said you could use that shit against the Deconstructors if they got in here.” She pointed back at the triage area a few meters away. “I didn’t mean you could use it on our patients.”

Annie’s vision followed Coraline’s outstretched arm. Emma was still in her examination chair; Nurse Gretchen hovered over the girl, swabbing away the rivets of blood emanating from Emma’s nose and tear ducts . . .

“Get her up to the ward: Bed Fourteen.” As soon as she received an acknowledgment from Gretchen, Coraline returned her attention to Annie. “You better have a damn good reason for what just happened, or I’m gonna lock you up in my office for the rest of this situation, Annie.” She folded her hands in front of her, trying not to come off as too domineering. “Well?”

 

The question came up yesterday, “Is Annie the only one who knows death spells?” and the answer to that is, out of all the A Levels, yes, she’s the only one who knows death spells–in particular, she knows one, Exsanguination, which is a D Level spell if one must know.  Both of Annie’s parents were pretty good with Sorcery, and while they didn’t go that route, they have books about the house, and little Annie found those books and read through them.  Ergo, that’s how she learn a death spell.

And what is Exsanguination?  Here is the definition:  “The action or process of draining or losing blood.”  In laymen’s terms it means you bleed a lot, and if you bleed enough, you’ll bleed to death.  Those rivets of blood coming from Emma’s nose and eyes?  Yep.  Annie was laying a little death spell on her, and if she’d actually put her mind to it, Emma would have had blood spurting from her nose faster than a teenage Japanese boy in a hentai animation.

That’s what she was being tasked to use on the “bad guys” if they got into the Great Hall.  Annie was gonna bleed them out–and not slowly.  Someone who knows what they’re doing, like Professor Lovecraft, could make a person bleed from every pore and opening in their body, which means you could put a person down in a mater of seconds.  Yes, it’s a messy way to go–but in my world it’s them or you, right?

There are other students who know how to do this sort of thing.  Do they used them against other students?  No.  Why?  For one, most students at the level where death spells are taught are also taught how to block them.  But also because if someone starts slinging that sort of magic, they’d vanish.  It’s that simple.  Kill a student while you’re a student and that’s it, you no longer exist.  Remember how Isis thought The Foundation might have to do something with Kerry and Emma’s parents if something happened to them?  They’d have basically made them vanish from existence, and anyone who’d come in contact with them would forget them–forever.  Same thing happens to wacky students going around trying to kill people:  they vanish.  Usually into Cloudland.  But that’s another story . . .

There was another question as well:  is that the only death spell?  Nope.  There’s no Avada Karvada in this world:  there are many ways to kick someone off this physical plain in a permanent fashion.  I know this because I have a list:

Spell List:  a work in progress you never leave home without.

Spell List: a work in progress you never leave home without.

Anything listed as “Sorcery (Morte)” is a spell designed to kill.  Yes, it can be used for other things:  Lovecraft used Electrify on Kerry the first day of Sorcery class because she wanted to see if she could get Annie to react, and her skill with the spell is such that she can shock you a little, or she could flat-out fry a person where they sat and they’d be dead before they knew they were dying.

Really, though:  any kind of magic could be used to off someone if you’re inventive enough.  During The Scouring–the other time The Deconstructors came and tried to destroy the school–Wednesday, while a student, killed a Deconstructor by creating a little tornado around his body and flaying him to death with dust and stone particles.  As she’s been known to say, Visualization, Energy, and Willpower:  if you can imagine it, you can make it happen.  If you can see how to do it, and you can channel that magical mojo into your Craft, all you need is the will to make it happen.

Annie’s had it drilled into her that using a death spell just to use it against someone is bad.  She had a slip-up, and . . . yeah, she explained to Coraline that she lose control for a moment because of what happened with Emma and Kerry, and it was her bad, don’t worry, it won’t happen again.  And Coraline, knowing how magic can go sideways when you’re upset, understands . . .

 

“Okay.” Coraline put a finger across Annie’s lips. “Don’t say that. Don’t think the worst.” She began slowly running her hands over Annie’s shoulders, trying to comfort her. “I’ll make this one up as a loss of control—” She leaned closer and eyed Annie hard. “But it’s not going to happen again—is it?”

“No.” Annie shook her head. “It won’t. I’m sorry, Nurse Coraline.”

“Yeah, well . . .” She looked back at the now-empty examination chair. “Emma’s the one you should apologize to, not me.” Coraline tapped Annie’s shoulders. “Let’s get back to work; I have a feeling more are coming.”

They’d taken no more than three steps when Coraline touched Annie’s arm and stopped her. “Hey. Kerry’s a smart boy.” She gave the worried girl a smile that she hoped would put her at ease, though she knew it likely wouldn’t. “If there’s anyone who can get away from an Abomination, it’s him.”

 

See?  All is forgiven–more or less.

As for that last statement, Coraline–

I may have something to say about that . . .

Though intervention usually means help is on the way . . .

Though intervention usually means help is on the way . . .

Triage Time

Yesterday was Attack, today I bring you Triage.

Whereas the last scene was all about Kerry, this one is all about Annie.  It’s the same time frame, but from a different perspective–as if I need to tell you.  That’s why the time stamps, so people will see this is all happening about the same time.

Let get right into what’s going on inside the Great Hall.

 

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

17:06 to 17:10

The lights were on in the Rotunda now that the sun was nearly set. They’d actually come on almost thirty minutes early; Annie suspected Nurse Coraline asked for them on, as the encroaching gloom was becoming a bit overwhelming for the other girls.

With the approaching twilight the blue dome over The Pentagram shone brighter than during the day. There was a light glow that was most noticeable when standing near the middle of the large, open space beneath the skylight, but even from the slides it drew the eye upward.

Annie tried not to spend a lot of time staring up into space, and once her noon rest had completely she’d set about sorting supplies with Nurse Bianca and Sahkyo, who was still in awe after her little demonstration before her rest. Annie wanted to keep busy so her mind wouldn’t wander and she’d begin thinking of all the nasty, horrible things that Lisa’s taunts had brought up, but there was only much they could do until it became necessary to spring into action and do what was necessary to tend to the incoming wounded—

She considered wandering across the Rotunda and walking up to the East Transept Gallery on the First Floor, because she wasn’t feeling sociable. Annie was tense because her sense was bothering her—the other sense that was developing, but that she’d yet to use. She stopped and rolled her eyes at that thought, because she knew better. I’ve had visions before, though not like that one . . .

But this wasn’t so much a vision as a sensation of something coming, that an event was about to occur, one so large—

 

Damn those visions.  And when she talks about that vision–hey, you know eventually I’ll get around to telling you what it was.  This makes Annie a bit like her mom, but we already know she’s special in a witchy way . . .

Unfortunately, we already know she’s right.

 

There were numerous flashes overhead bright enough to drag Annie’s attention. But these flashes were blue: they were red and crimson and orange, and were coming from beyond The Pentagram screen. She spun around towards the triage area. “Something’s going on out there.”

Nagesa was now looking up and out through the skylight. “That’s the outer screen.”

“You sure?” Before the girl could answer there were two yellow flashes bright enough to leave afterimages on Annie’s eyes. She saw the blue Pentagram screen vibrate and cycle through several different shades of blue before returning to its normal appearance. “What was that?”

Coraline teleported onto the ground floor from where she’d been in the hospital. “Did you see that?”

Nagesa nodded. “Yes. Annie saw it, too.”

 

Everyone starts seeing flashes in the sky, it’s not a good sign.  Well, anytime there were flashes in the sky people usually took it to mean that bad things were coming.  All they need now–

–is to hear a warning from the Voice of Doom . . .

 

“Attention, this is Fortress. Our outer defense screen has been breached and hostiles are now inside the school grounds.” The voice continued on as if they were announcing a change in the lunch schedule. “We are instituting Level Three Security protocols. All coven administrative assistants will escort their students to the safe zones in the coven tower sub-levels; all upper coven tower level are to be evacuated immediately. Students are to remain in the coven tower sub-levels until further notice.” There was a slight pause as if the person making the announcement was checking to see if there was additional information. “That is all.”

 

Get the kids in the basement–sorry, the sub-levels–and get them even more protected.  This is what is known as “Go Time” for the Triage Group, and it’s time to Coraline to rally ’round the troops.  As you will see, this is where people find out about that, “Did I sign up for this?” clause that usually comes from volunteering  for something and not thinking through just what that something really means.  Like, you know:  being above ground in an exposed area when everyone else is heading underground to safety . . .

 

Coraline clapped her hands together hard. “Everyone, over here.” She waited for all the nurses and triage volunteers to gather around before launching into her speech. “This is it, guys. We can expect casualties to come in at any time, because if there are bad guys on the grounds, that means they’ll be fighting.”

“Wait a minute—” Lisa moved around Nurse Gretchen so she was standing directly in front of Coraline. “They said to evacuate the towers—”

“Do we look like we’re in a tower?” Coraline spread her arms and looked around. “No, honey: you stay right here.  That’s the job.”

Sahkyo was the next with a question. “Is there any point where we would leave?”

“Yeah . . .” Coraline nodded slowly. “Security Level Five.”

“What’s that?”

Annie figured it best to stop anymore questions. “And what is Security Level Four?”

Coraline tackled the questions by order of their numbers. “SL Four has all the students evacuating the towers and moving to secure bunkers below the sub-levels of the Great Hall.”

This was the first that Annie knew there was something below the sub-levels of this main building. “And Five?”

The silence stretched on for close to five seconds. “Full evacuation of the school. If we ever get to Five we’ve lost, or are about the lose, The Pentagram.” She changed her tone to one of optimism. “But that ain’t happening today, kids. We’re gonna be okay. Just trust in our teams out there to handle the situation, and we’ll do our job if they come in. Okay?” She examined the faces of the four volunteers and knew she could depend on at least three of them, which meant Coraline wasn’t worried. “Let’s find our places, everyone.”

 

Look at Coraline:  is she bovvered?  Does her face look bovvered?  No.  And she’s pretty sure she can count on most of her girls.  There’s even one girl in particular she needs a favor from . . .

 

Annie turned and headed for her station, but she’d only walked a couple of meters when Coraline tapped her on the shoulder as she passed behind. “Annie? A moment, please?”

Coraline headed for the West Transept; once they were out of sight of everyone, she asked the most blunt question she’d ever asked a student. “Could you perform Exsanguination on a person if necessary?”

 

In case you were wondering from the last time Lovely Professor Lovecraft brought this up, Exsanguination is the draining of blood from a person in sufficient quantities to cause death.  That’s why it’s considered a death spell, because in right hands one could drain the blood from another person quickly enough to just up and kill them, letting them collapses in a heap around a pool of their own fluids.

Annie’s now got the school doctor asking her if she could kill someone for real.  What does Annie say?  What do you think?

 

Though she was a bit shocked by the question, Annie wasn’t surprised. Coraline knew about her skill with Air Hammer, and she figured she’d not only read The Foundation entry reports, but had received updates from Professor Lovecraft. There was only one answer she could give. “Yes.”

“You’re certain?”

“Yes, Nurse Coraline.” She glanced in the direction of the triage center. “If it means no one getting killed.”

“Okay.” She rubbed here chin. “Are there any other Morte spells I should know about?”

“I’ve practiced Resistance, but I don’t know if it is that good.”

Coraline nodded. “If there were any trouble in here . . .” She gently laid her right hand on Annie’s shoulder. “I don’t want you to hold back. You have my permission to go at any bad guys as hard as you like.”

Annie never expected to find herself in a position where a member of the school staff would give her permission to kill Deconstructors indiscriminately. Then again, this is what I get for not going to the tower . . . “I’ll do my best, Nurse Coraline.”

She gave Annie’s shoulder a squeeze. “I hate to lay this on you, but you’re the closest we’ve got to a bad ass sorceress right now. My nurses can help, but . . .” She also glanced in the direction of the triage center. “If it gets crazy in her, they’ll be busy.”

Annie placed her hand on Coraline’s. “I’ll do what I can.”

“Okay.” Coraline gave Annie a little pat on the shoulder. “Let’s get to our places.” She turned and headed out of the transept.

Annie started ahead for a few moments, going over Coraline’s words. She’s giving me permission to kill—just like I was a real sorceress. It wasn’t that Annie was bothered by the idea that it might be necessary to throw spells with the intention of killing others . . .

But she was troubled by the thought that she would find it enjoyable.

 

So there you have it:  Annie is promoted to Triage Bad Ass Sorceress and told to smite the bad guys as much as possible–and she’s worried that her inner Dark Witch is gonna enjoy the hell out of that should it happen.  Just what every twelve year old needs to think about:  Am I gonna like having to bleed out bad guys should it come to that?  Ah, that Annie:  don’t get on her bad side.

With this scene, almost another twelve hundred words, I’m close to going over my “Biggest Novel Ever” limit, and Kerry’s going to do that in the next scene.  Given that Annie started this mess way back in October, it only right that Kerry tip it over the top.    Maybe tonight, after I finish my nails, we can see if Kerry gets out of the sky in one piece.

I mean, if he doesn't, I'm gonna have to shorten the novel considerably . . .

I mean, if he doesn’t, I’m gonna have to shorten the novel considerably . . .