In the last three days–well, two nights and two mornings, actually–I’ve written just short of four thousand words for this first scene of Chapter Thirty-Nine. And let me tell you, it was hard. Every moment of writing was difficult. I only managed a little over three hundred words last night, one because I was tied, and two before it was just hard pulling up the strength I needed to get those words down.
There were a lot of emotions on my end about writing this scene. I may not seem like it, but it’s a hard thing to point out that even though you’ve created this nice, seemingly perfect society which is trying to make the world a better place for everyone, it’s disconcerting to know that your society is still littered with shitbirds pushing their own agendas. But The Foundation ain’t Utopia, and the Guardians deal with problems not only in this world, but . . . well, in time you’ll find out. If I ever get to those novels.
So, yes: this scene and the last chapter show there’s just a bit of cynicism circulating about the halls of power that run this world. Everything is flawed, because even super-powerful world-controlling witches are, deep down, nothing but people.
But they do want to help you. Really.
It’s just that Maddie did something bad. And in doing so she pissed off the wrong sorceress. Oopsie!
All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
Maddie took a step back from the angry sorceress, unsure of what the woman would do next. “I’m sorry, Helena, but I had my reasons—”
“I give zero shits about your reasons.” Despite knowing that she shouldn’t get angry, Helena felt her anger starting to slip loose from where she kept it hidden. “Kerry saved your life, you ungrateful bitch—”
Maddie’s temper came on strong in that moment. “That was an accident.”
“It doesn’t matter. He saved you.” Helena regained control and returned to her smoldering, cool demeanor. “You’d be dead right now were it not for him. And you repay that by being a spy. By telling the Guardians—”
“What they needed to know.” Maddie spit the words at Helena. “Both of them, they’re the sort of students the Guardians are looking for, and you know it’s the truth.” She slashed her arm downward in a dismissive manner. “If you were doing your job—”
“I am doing my job: I’m the Head Sorceress of Salem.” Helena’s face twisted into a near snarl. “I train students, not spy on them. That’s what I do.” She jabbed a finger in Maddie’s direction. “It’s what you should do, too.”
Yeah, you gotta admit, that’s a pretty crappy thing to do–have your life saved by some scared kid and then continue to justify your actions because what he did was an accident. Maybe she included that in her rat
“Someone in San Francisco evidently doesn’t think that’s true.” Maddie smirked. “Maybe they wanted a different point of view from someone who’s suffered because of the Deconstructors.”
Helena paused for about five seconds in the wake of Maddie’s declaration of loss. When she spoke, her response came in a low, tight tone. “David blew himself up taking out four maniacs in powered armor. That was your husband’s choice, and he did it to save the school, save the students, and save you. It hurt that you lost him, I get it . . .”
In the prequel novel to this, you meet David, Maddie’s husband, who is also an instructor at the school. You learn they were coven and level mates, and they married after completing their Life Experience Travels. David encountered an instructor working for the Deconstructors and three students getting ready to start their powered armor that they’d built in class–now you know a little of what goes on down in the super science areas–and were going to tear up the school when David decided the only way to take them out was to blow up a suit of bio-armor he was working on and take out the bad guys. Unfortunately for him, he was wearing said bio-armor, and died along with the bad guys.
So, yeah, Maddie is still hurting from that, and she doesn’t want to see anyone else go through that pain. The problem with that explanation is that you have to give it to someone to someone who can’t imagine what you’ve gone through and hope they sympathize.
Who does she tell, though? Helena.
Bad move . . .
Her voice tightened as she once more drew to within half a arm’s length of the coven leader. “But you justifying you actions because of loss isn’t going to work. ‘Cause The Scouring didn’t just end here, it kept going for about two years after that shit parade started on these grounds. You wanna talk loss, Maddie? You wanna talk about Tower One, hum? You wanna talk about what I lost? I lost coven and levelmates; I lost colleagues; I lost friends—I lost my fucking legs.” She grabbed the lapel of Maddie’s jacket and yanked the woman towards her. “Do not ever justify your shitty actions on the death of your husband, because even with all I’ve lost, I’ve never went running to the Guardians and told them confidential things about our students because I thought it just might help The Foundation Cause. I will protect these students; I will never sell them out.”
Harsh reality is Helena has tried her best to protect people, and even when it seems like she’s playing people, there’s keeping certain students in mind. She let Annie into the Black Vault because she wanted to know what she was trying to learn. And by knowing that, she has a good idea of what she’s showing Kerry. One might question her letting Annie do that last, but there’s a reason for that, too, and she’ll let on more about that in time. That seems to be a theme with me: in time. Everything gets resolved eventually. It’s just I’m the only one who knows when.
Helena throws out a final warning to Maddie–one of which is along the lines of, “If I catch you doing this again I’m coming to your house and we’ll . . . talk,” and she jaunts off to The Pentagram with Erywin. as they’re walking in there’s this conversation:
They teleported to a point near Founder’s Tree and began walking, hand-in-hand up to Founder’s Gate. Erywin said nothing right away, but as they passed through the huge, vaulted archway, she found she couldn’t maintain her silence any longer. “Are you going to say anything to the other coven leaders or Mathilde?”
“No. It’s not my place to go to Mathilde and tell her what I found. If Maddie wants to resign that’s up to her, but I’m not going to pressure her to do so.” Helena sighed. “What she did was shitty, but that doesn’t mean she’s a terrible instructor.”
“But do you think she’ll stop sending things to the Guardians?”
“Yes.” She turned to her right and nodded. “She knows I’m watching her now, and knows if I catch her passing along anything again, I’ll come after her.”
Erywin didn’t really want to know the answer to the next question, but she had to ask. “And do what?”
Helena didn’t blink as she answered. “Kill her.”
“At her farm?”
Erywin squeezed her companion’s hand. “You would really do that, love?”
Helena cast a sideways glance back. “Honey . . .” Her face broke into a smile. “You know me better than to ask that.”
Hey, Helena’s smiling! Now you know what makes her happy: the idea of coming after you and putting you down. And while people may question why Helena wouldn’t try and get Maddie kicked out–Helena’s still a Guardian, and just like all her brethren, she’s playing angles. And who’s to say Helena won’t use this leverage on Maddie later to get something she wants? Well, I’m the one to say that, that’s who. Really, it’s a bitch getting burned in this sort of business, because then you sort of become a chum line for other sharks to feed upon. Maybe Maddie won’t resign, but all the while she remains at school she’s gotta wonder if today is the day she looked up from her desk and discovers Helena standing in the doorway with a big smile on her face . . .
Nope. Not something I’d want.
Sometime today I start in on the Mile High Club scene, and the return of a certain wingmate that I know some people would like to see die as well. Where is that scene going?
Into Thin Air. Really.