The Hard and the Soft of It

Hola, survivors of U.S. Thanksgiving.  I made it through the day yesterday, heading down to Maryland to relax with friends, then back up to The Burg for a late-night brow waxing before heading home to call family.  Yes, busy day all around.

And you know what that means:  no writing.  Not yet, at least.  I did it yesterday morning, and you saw that, but I didn’t write before going to bed because I was just too tired.  Now, since I had a two hours drive down yesterday, and two hours back, I had plenty of time to figure out things with my kids, and even lay down a couple of scenes, one of which will get played out in the next book.  Wait, am I really talking next book?  Yeah, I am.  I’m strange that way.

I also started thinking about Motre spells and how they could be looked at in the same way martial arts is examined.  Why is this and what am I talking about?  First, they why, and it came from a comment from my friend and fellow blogger renxkyoko, who made this statement the other day:


Just a lame observation……

Annie’s is more feminine…. I mean, ribbons ? He he
And Kerry’s is manly…. I mean, a sword ?
I guess it’s natural instinct. They gravitate towards what they prefer, deadly shadow ribbons for a girl, and a sword for the guy.


Now, I don’t see those as either feminine or masculine traits, because a lot of women in fiction where fighting is involved use swords–several animes would tell you so, I’m sure–whereas there are certain martial arts films where you see guys doing a lot of deflecting and misdirection.  And this is where I start looking at Morte spells where they are seen as hard and soft disciplines.

To lay it out quick and dirty, a hard martial arts style is often defined as power coming from the outside the individual, using fast, strong, direct attacks against your opponent, while a soft martial arts style is usually defined as power coming from within, using relaxed, slow, indirect defense against your opponent.  In terms of martial arts, Shaolin Kung Fu, Eskrima, and Karate would be considered hard styles, while Tai Chi, Aikido, and Hsing-I are considered soft styles.

The different spells are used different ways, just as in martial arts you have different ways of pretty much doing the same thing.  When Annie did her Morte demonstration she used ribbons to bind–soft restraint there–and then used magic to turn one’s body against itself:  in short, she bleed out her opponent.  She could be seen as a practitioner of a soft style that didn’t require any outside attacks, and given that her signature Morte spell is Exsanguination, the way she goes about killing someone isn’t going to be all that flashy or noticeable:  just look at how she took out the female Deconstructor during the Link Bridge battle.

Kerry went full-on external using Electrify as his signature spell, and even went a step further by showing he could craft an electrical sword.  We can guess why he started learning Electrify:  because he’d seen it used within various entertainments in geek culture, and if you haven’t figured it out, that’s also one of the reasons he was initially drawn to transformation as a magical form as well.  At this point in his schooling Kerry is going with what he’s seen, knows, and loves, but he’s still young–I mean, he’s not even a teenager yet, right.

At the same time the kids known how to change up their styles.  First, look at how Annie fought her Judgement Trial.  Everything was external, full of deadly Air Hammers and an Electrify kill shot.  She had to because there wasn’t room for subtlety:  it was go or blow, and Annie doesn’t not blow when it comes time to show her stuff.  She also had a point to prove:  mess with me and I’ll put you down hard.  It was a bit different from the point she made in her Morte demonstration, which was, “If I want to take you out, you won’t see me coming.”

Kerry is still learning his styles, but now that he’s learning Exsanguination he’ll change up when the need arises.  Remember, Annie’s had a few years to develop her signature Morte spell:  Kerry’s only been working on this stuff for about a year.  When he took out the homunculi during his Exsanguination training it became an “Ah, ha!” moment for him, when he learned that for some spells overthinking–or over attacking–isn’t what’s needed; sometimes you just kick back, flick your finger at someone, and let the magic do the rest.  Now, Helena mentioned that Kerry knows the same stuff as Annie, but you can bet all his fellow B Levels remembered from that class is how he lobbed a zombie head in their direction.

And one last thing that I find interesting.  Helena has been played up as a major bad ass, and rightfully so.  And yet, we know Kerry has killed someone, Annie has as well, so has Erywin, and it’s been implied that Maddie and Jessica killed people during the Day of the Dead attack.  Now, we’ve heard that Helena has killed people, but have you seen her throw a Morte spell?  No.  One day I’ll have to write up the time she killed a student . . .

So, there are my musings for the day.  Tomorrow I’ll have more for you to read–

And I expect this to be the look on some faces while they do.

And I expect this to be the look on some faces while they do.

Witches Over Salem: the Flight Plan

Here we are, Happy Thanksgiving for all my American friends; can’t wish it for my Canadian friends because theirs was back at the start of the month.  Try not to eat too much, and as for me, I’ll be out on the road in the few hours heading south to a friend’s house.

But off in my fictional world it’s not Thanksgiving, one of the holidays they don’t celebrate–probably because when you only have a few Americans and Canadians at your school, why make a big deal of something only a few might enjoy.  After all, it’s not like the kitchen won’t fix turkey for you, right?

What today in world of my kids is, however, pretty damn important.  What are they up to?  What they are up to is way over your heads . . .,


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

Approaching the Danvers River Kerry closely watched for Annie’s hand signals. He’d followed Annie as she made her way along the rail line from Beverly to Salem, and given that their next landmark lay ahead, he knew they were expected to stop and check-in, after which Annie would receive additional instructions.

They reached the river and proceeded onward, jinxing slightly to the right as they flew over the swing-section of rail bridge. They didn’t follow the line exactly: they overflew the North River, keeping close to the shore, and eventually flew over the track and drifted towards the apartment complex parking lot next to Salem Station.

Annie held up her right hand and waved it back and forth, the signal to stop, as she pulled up. Kerry came to a stop about two meters away as she called in. “Flight Deck, this is Salem Solo. We’ve reached the Salem train station and are holding steady at seven hundred meters.” She slowly spun around and faced Kerry. He couldn’t tell if she was smiling under her balaclava, but the twinkle in her eyes was impossible to hide. “What would you like us to do next? Over.”

Kerry had a pretty good idea as to their coming instructions, and Vicky didn’t disappoint. “Time for you guys to take a rest. Hold your current position and altitude; we’ll notify you in ten minute as to whether you should continue to your next landmarks, or if there is a modification to your flight plan. Over.”

“Understood, Flight Deck. We’ll wait for your instructions. Over and out.” Annie slipped her goggles up onto her hood-covered head and rolled her balaclava up until her entire face was visible. “Looks like we’re gonna be here for a bit.” She tugged the fur-lined collar of her hood close around her face and checked out their surroundings. “The city looks a great deal different from up here.”

“Yeah.” Kerry raised his goggles and balaclava as well and glanced to his left and right. “You can certainly see a lot more up here than you can walking down on Essex Street.” He leaned forward over his PAV. “I don’t think I’ve never stopped and looked at Salem from up here.”

“I know I haven’t—” Annie eased a meter closer. “At least not floating like this.”


Yes, flying time is here.  The kids mentioned that Annie’s solo flights were coming up, and today, the 25th of January, 2013–as pointed out in the scene the last Friday of this particular January–Annie is flying solo, with her faithful chase Kerry not far behind.  And at the moment, they are in a hover over the Salem train station, a local both kids know well, and wouldn’t you know it, I have a little screen shot of the area–

A little look back at where they've been.

Though here we’re looking back at where they’ve been.

Yep, Beverly is on the other side of the river in the middle of the picture, and directly out of sight below this pic is the station.  I’ve a few more shots, but I’m not wasting them here.  Nope, not yet.

But this is not the whole flight:  oh, no.  Not in the least.


This first solo flight was easy: leave the school and headed directly for Wingaersheek Point, then turn and head for the intersection of Martin and Main in Essex. From there head southwest, overfly Gordon College on the way to the Beverly Station, then turn south and go to the Salem Station. After the last station they make a slightly southward turn towards the House of the Seven Gables—a location close to where they stayed at the Sea Sprite Inn—then turn to the northwest, head to the Old Hospital Point and going out over the Darvers River on their way to Plum Cove. At the cove they would make their way back to the school, stopping at the Manchester Station and the Blackburn Circle rotary just outside Gloucester before flying back into the confines of the Salem School and touching down outside the Flight School.

Since I’m pointing out all these spots that Annie has to hit on her tour of Lovecraft Country, you would probably think, “I’ll bet Cassie has a map.”  And . . .

You wouldn't be wrong.

You wouldn’t be wrong.

I actually made this map about a year ago–probably more than a year ago, but that’s date quibbling.  Whenever I have my kids out doing stuff like this I map it, because if you wanna know the distance and points of interest, you gotta have a map.  And for Annie flying around on her own, I for sure know where she’s going and where she’s been.

I should point out at this time they are all up in their cold weather gear like what Kerry wore on his overnight flight.  And we have a good reason for that–


On their way out of the Flight School Kerry saw Annie’s excitement. She wasn’t the least bit nervous: her confidence was good, she knew the surrounding territories, and she held no doubts she could remain airborne the whole time and find each of the objectives. Most importantly this was her first trip flying outside the school walls without supervision from Isis, and they were both aware her solo flight schedules were being advanced nearly a month because both Isis and Vicky were confident she could perform the light without difficulty.

As they lifted off from Selena’s Meadow the sky was clear and the sun bright. Kerry set up a few meters behind Annie and let her lead the way, as this was her flight, her mission to complete. As they approached Annisquam thy both noticed the cold, and Kerry remarked it was something they were going to have to deal with all day. The screen temperature at the Flight School was -9 C, but the thirty kilometer wind drove the chill down to -18 C. Now they were flying along at right around a hundred kilometers an hour, and that meant having a constant wind child of around -35 C—and when they weren’t flying they’d be at rest in the air, and the slightly stronger winds at altitude would keep the wind chill around a constant -20 Celsius.

That was Annie’s next question. “How are you handling the cold?” Her grin stretched wide. “You should be used to this by now.”


Just so you know, -9 C is 15 F, -18 C is -1 F, -20 C is -4 F, and -35 C is -30 F.  In other words it’s damn cold, but given Annie’s demeanor she seems in good spirits.  I mean, she’s free-flying for her first time on her own–the girl’s first mission, so to speak–and her only companion is her soul mate.  It really doesn’t get much better for her, though maybe she’s even happier making zombie heads explode around Lisa.  We’ll see on that.

Don’t know how much writing I’ll do today, but I’m sure I can do a little writing tomorrow and get it out to you.  After all, it’s not like I’m going shopping or anything . . .

Demonstrations of Death: Observations in the Quiet

Finally, finally, finally, after four days and just a little over as many thousands of words as that, this fourth scene of the twenty-first chapter is over and done.

See, I don't lie. Not about this. Usually.

See, I don’t lie. Not about this. Usually.

So we get to the end of this cavalcade of blood–and it was bloody, and probably done that way for a reason, because my kids do know how to make a point when they put their minds to it–and Helena is one happy Mistress of All Things Dark.  Well, she’s almost completely happy, and you’ll see why–


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

Helena waited for some silence to return—and for the multiple instances of retching to subside—before speaking. “That wasn’t expected.” She gave the boy a lopsided smile as he turned towards her, the lightning sword still glowing in his hand. “Quite the move, too: I’d never seen that.”

Annie clutched her hands and rested them against her tummy. “He stared working on that beginning of December.” She appeared quite proud. “Said he wanted to have it perfected before the end of this month.”

“I’d say he’s succeeded there.” Helena approached him slowly. “Guess we’re going to have to get you some Jedi robes.”

Kerry made the sword disappear. “I actually learned that from an old anime—” He looked down, away from Helena. “I’ve only seen Star Wars a couple of times.”

“Still, it’s a good variation of Electrify.” Helena shook her head, chuckling. “You can always use another weapon—” She stepped between Kerry and his levelmates: the only one who could see them clearly was Annie since she was standing a few meters away from the others. She lowered her voice so Kerry was the only one who could hear. “You okay?”


First off, the fact that Kerry hasn’t seen Star Wars that much may seem strange, but there are some of us in that bucket.  (waving hands here).  Second, he’s right when he says he got the light sword from an old anime, because–of course–I know what anime he got it from.  That would be Tenchi Muyo!, the story of the most sexually repressed teenage boy in Japan and the extremely attractive and slightly psychotic girls who want to be his OTP.  It started out as an OVA, which I have, and then branched out into several variations of the same story, which is not all that unusual when it comes to anime.

He got the idea from Ryoko, the aqua haired–yes, again with the aqua hair!–space pirate who, in the OVA, is imprisoned inside a cave on Tenchi’s grandfather’s property, and who is eventually released and who is probably responsible for ninety percent of the crazy shit that happens to the boy.  She can make swords out of energy–check for Kerry–and throw energy balls–another check–and can fly–okay, not so much a check for him, but right up Annie’s alley–

And she has cleavage, which is a must for all young anime space pirates.

And she has cleavage, which is a must for all young anime female space pirates, but isn’t something Kerry needs.

She’s also deeply in love with Tenchi, and wants more than anything to be with him–a check for Kerry in relating to Annie–and is extremely open emotionally–another huge check for Kerry.

She's also tried to kill him with energy blast, something Annie hasn't tried yet with Kerry.

She’s also tried to kill him with energy blasts, something Annie hasn’t tried yet with Kerry.

By the way, until I found this gif I’d forgotten this scene–the OVA is from 1992 and I haven’t seen it in fifteen years–and I realize that’s a pretty good approximation of Annie’s “kill shot”, though Annie needs to work up the power a bit more than Ryoko and she uses both hands to focus and fire.  By the way, Ryoko’s name is spelled using an unusual kanji, and generally translates as “Bringer of Demons,” though in the OVA it’s stated as meaning, “The Devil Caller”.  That’s not a check for Kerry because he’s not a devil caller–yet.

So why all the concern, Helena?  Well . . .


His gaze shot up from the floor and froze upon the sorceress’ face. “Yeah, I’m good.”

“You sure?” Since Kansas City Helena made a point of reviewing all of the training video of these two, paying particular attention to Kerry’s training. She was aware he’d “had a problem” during the fight on the Link Bridge, and she accepted Annie’s explanation that Kerry had over-thought the situation and tried to split up his actions instead of going on the attack.

Since then she’d watch him learn when to defend and when to attack, and Helena was satisfied that any situations like the one that arose in Kansas City wouldn’t happen again. However, she’d seen his reaction after he set his sights on the girl homunculus, and it puzzled her. He hadn’t froze out of indecision; Helena felt it was more like the homunculus had triggered something, though she couldn’t imagine what— I have to be certain he’s okay: I can’t have this being a problem, not if The Guardians decide to renege on their promise and whistle up a field op this spring.

Kerry nodded. “Yes, Professor.” He glanced over his shoulder at the headless body of the homunculus. “For a moment there—” He looked down, though he was chuckling instead of appearing pensive. “It was like I flashed on something for a second that kinda just . . . pulled me away.”  As he looked up he nodded slightly.  “It’s not a big deal; it’s not gonna happen–”  He nodded towards the wall to his left.  “–out there.”

Helena didn’t question what had happened—at least she wasn’t going to do so now. Annie saw this; I know she’ll ask him at some point. She patted him on the shoulder as her voice returned to a normal tone. “Okay, good job.” She tossed her head to the left. “Go join your SO and give her a hug.”

“Thank you, Professor.” Kerry did as ordered and carried out both request.


This is the first indication that Helena is monitoring their progress, that she not only aware of what went down during the Link Bridge Battle and that she’s spoken with Annie about it, but that she’s concerned that Kerry might do the same thing again were they out in the field and the shit hits the fan.  But she trusts his explanation, and she also knows Annie will get to the bottom of this as well, and give Helena a report.  Not because Annie’s a little snitch, but because, once more, her eyes are on the prize, and that means training up here Dark Witch to be the best.

This leaves up with nothing but cleanup and the notice that not everyone in the room is cut out for the Sorcesses’ Life–


“There you are.” Helena turned her attention back to the rest of the students. “That’s how you do Morte, and one day some of you may be able to do the same as my minions.” She turned towards Lisa, who was doing her best to slide unseen into the background. “Once again you questioned the abilities of your levelmates, and you got your ass handed back to you.” Helena flashed two fingers. “That’s your second strike; there won’t be a third.” She finally noticed Gavino, the Italian boy from Blodeuwedd, lying on the floor. “He fainted? Really?”

Shadha Kanaan nodded. “Yes, Professor.”

“Okay, get his feet elevated—” She finally noticed the students who’d thrown up, the various sports of vomit on the floor, and the head of homunculus laying close by. “Everyone who got sick, lay down against the wall.” She flicked the head away, sending it to rest next to its body. “I’ll get a nurse down here to see to you.” She turned to Annie and Kerry. “While we’re waiting head over to The Manor and get cleaned up. I’ll have Housekeeping—”

“That’s okay, Professor.” A satisfied smirk settled upon Annie’s face. “I’m fine like this.”

Helena’s right eyebrow shot upward. “What about you, Kerry?”

Though he wasn’t quite as messy as Annie, his face and clothes were covered with their fair share of blood. “I’m okay.” He smiled broadly before shrugging. “Blood’s kinda of an occupational hazard for some people in The Foundation, right?”

It took every gram of willpower the Head Sorceress possessed to keep from laughing. “Yes, that is certainly true.”


Never let it be said Annie and Kerry haven’t started coming into their own by (1) getting ready to help out in the class, while (2) being bloody as hell, (3) learning this same Morte spell at the same time–assuming they haven’t already–and (4) probably chuckling darkly at the mayhem they helped create.  And they got Lisa in trouble again, which is always a plus.

Now on to the Penultimate scene, and it shouldn’t be that long, at least I don’t think so–

I’m kinda up in the air about it.

Demonstrations of Death: An Electrifying Performance

So a quick one today this morning, ’cause I’m running behind schedule a little here–between this getting ready in the morning stuff and trying to get so many things finished before heading out the door to work, I don’t seem to have a much time in the mornings as before.  Getting dressed and getting my makeup on does seem to take a lot more time than before, when I used to throw on a couple of things and head out the door.  Sigh.  Don’t remind me that I chose the Vag Life.

Anyway, it’s time for Annie’s Soul Mate to get up and do his thing, and let’s see how that went–


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

It took a few minutes for Helena to juant away the body and have a couple of APs from Housekeeping clean up the mess left behind by the bleed out. She didn’t check on the condition of her students: they were seeing things that she’d grown into at a much younger age, and if they wanted to learn about Morte spells, then they were gonna have to deal with what the spells did, and the aftermath. They got a taste of this last year in Ramona’s class— The floor cleared and housekeeping departed. They didn’t handle it well then, which means they probably aren’t going to handle it well now . . . “Okay, Kerry: you ready?”

He nodded then gave the still slightly bloody Annie a hug before walking out to where his soul mate had stood only minutes before. “You want Electrify, Professor?”

“Yes, I do. However, let’s change things up a bit.” She tapped the display and two cabinets popped into position where the one had appeared for Annie.

He turned around, his head cocked slightly to one side. “I get two?”

“I’ve heard that Annie can handle two—” Helena gave Kerry a wink. “You wanna show her you can, too. Don’t you?”

He exhaled and smiled. “Sure.” Kerry spun around and faced his soon-to-be targets. “I’m ready.”

“Then here they come.”

Both cabinet doors snapped open at the same time, and both homunculus shambled out and made their way forward. Kerry felt his excitement begin rising and quickly he forced it down, setting himself to concentrate. His targets were much like Annie’s: zombie trackers about his age and size, both attired in Salem school uniforms, the one on his left a boy and the other on his right a—

Something ‘caused Kerry to close his eyes and shake his head; when he opened them the snarling fake walkers were less than three meters away and closing. He let out a short gasp as he realized his situation. How long were my eyes closed?


Now don’t get worried here, because Kerry makes a really nice recovery–


Kerry stepped to his left as he raised his right hand and rapidly crafted a Electrify shot, firing it off when the boy zombie was only about a meter away and reaching for him. He half-extended his hand and fired a bolt of blueish electrical energy into the throat and chest of the homunculus while taking two steps to his left to keep the girl zombie at a safe distance. The three second blast blackened the boy zombie’s shirt, jacket, and skin; before he dropped the spell the shirt caught fire and began burning the homunculus’ chin and face. He gave the staggering homunculus another electrical shot to the face and Air Hammered it hard: the upper half of the burning, damaged body ripped open jetting blood in several directions, with one of the sprays catching Kerry on this left side of his face and chest. He hit it with another Air Hammer, blasting it out of the way before it could become a messy obstacle.

With one undead creature out of the way, Kerry crafted a ball of energy in his left hand and prepared to take on the long haired zombie intent on biting him. Two meters away the homunculus raised its arms and reached for her target; Kerry closed his hand around the ball, turning it into a glowing blue-white pole a couple of centimeter across and a meter long, with three-quarters of the emerging from beyond his clenched fist. With a growl he shoved the electrical sword into the chest of the girl zombie, pushing he backwards as the smell of burning flesh began wafting away from the battle.

Kerry gave his sword a hard thrust and pushed it out the zombie’s back, scorching her jacket and crimson hair. He came face-to-face with this growling creature, grinning wildly, then jerked the sword down and to the left, ripping open the chest just below the zombie’s right arm. Ignoring the fresh blood pumping from the open wound, Kerry pivoted slightly to his left, then brought the sword around in a vicious forearm swing. He caught the girl homunculus just below the jaw, slicing through the neck and sending the head sailing towards Kerry’s levelmates. It landed with a thud that was barely heard over the screeching of several students.


I tried to find a nice image of a head flying through the air, but instead here's the story.  You can imagine the head on your own.

I tried to find a nice image of a head flying through the air, but instead here’s the story. You can imagine the head on your own.

It would seem that Annie and Kerry have learned a few tricks in Ramona’s Sunday morning class, and it’s paying off nicely, because Kerry wouldn’t have learned any of those neat tricks back in Cardiff public school.  Also, their styles are a lot different, but then so is their magic: from a martial arts point of view, Exsanguination could be seen as an internal discipline, while Electrify is always more external unless you’re already at Helena’s level.  And I should time line these both out, but all opponents were “dead” in under ten seconds.  That’s some quick dispatching.

Tonight I will finish up this scene and evaluate if I need to modify the next couple of scenes–because, really, they’re starting to bother me.  I’ll explain later.

Demonstrations of Death: Bloody Good Show

Before anything else goes down, there’s a little something that popped up on my Facebook time line today, and that something has to do with historical timelines.  I bring this up because one year ago today I posed The Coming of the Chestnut Girl, and we finally discovered the identity of The Chestnut Girl, about Kerry’s attachment to Annie through their dreams, how he first expressed something most important to her.

Of course that little coming out session led to my kids getting confronted by Helena as soon as they were done pouring their hearts out, and before long they’d find someone trying to rip their hearts out, because bad guys are assholes.  Not to worry thought, ’cause my kids were trained up enough that they managed to keep everyone from dying, and eventually Kerry learned (1) that someone wanted him to be a Dark Witch and (2) to stop overthinking everything.

What a difference a year makes–

Like almost a quarter of a million words difference.

Like almost a quarter of a million words difference.

I eventually wrote just over eighteen hundred words yesterday, and this section I’m showing today is all about practical demonstrations, and it starts off in a bit of a snarky way . . .


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

Kerry looked to Annie as she looked back. She half-shrugged her head to the right. “How do you feel?”

“You guys don’t have to do this.” Helena stepped so she was almost between them so she could speak more confidentially. “Like Annie said, you’re not here to show off.”

“True, but—” Kerry quickly glanced to his right, then between Annie and Helena. He lowered his voice. “I’m tried of Lisa’s crap.”

Annie nodded and spoke in the same hushed tones. “So am I.”

“Then it’s settled.” Helena returned to her spot to Kerry’s right. “Since I brought a few homunculi for those students who might be ready for a go at a quick test of their abilities, you’ll be able to see what my minions can do.” She glanced to her far left. “Annie, would you mind demonstrating the Exsanguination spell? I’ve not actually seen you do this on a full homunculus, and I would love to see it in action. I hear your spell is . . .” The right corner of her mouth curled upward. “Killer.”

Annie smiled darkly at Helena’s inside joke. “Of course, Professor.”


Who says Helena doesn’t have a sense of humor?  It’s just a little snark between Guardians, is all–and if you don’t believe Annie isn’t thinking of herself as a Guardian by now, you don’t know my Chestnut Girl.  As with all things involving her, it’s eyes on the prize, and this prize has a big “G” on the ID.

So let’s get Annie up there first with her killer spell:


Helena pulled out a tablet and began scrolling through something on the screen. A moment later one of the cabinets that were used for holding homonculi appeared about twenty meters from the group. “Since Ramona knows how much you all love those training zombies, she cooked up a batch this week just for you.” She tapped the screen a few times, then nodded at Annie. “You go first.”

“Yes, Professor.” She examined the cabinet as she stepped about five meters away from the other students. “Tracker homunculus?”

“Oh, yeah.” Helena grinned. “Those always give people an incentive to be good.” Her finger hovered over the tablet display. “Ready?”

Annie looked straight ahead, flexing her fingers. “Yes, Professor.”

“Here goes.” She tapped the display.


Right off the bat, when Annie says, “Tracker homunculus,” the students watching should have grown nervous.  Then you watch Annie standing there like she’d ready to beat the hell out of someone, and that should have been Nervous Moment #2.  So let’s open the door and see who’s about to try and lay the smack on Annie.


The door opened and the homunculus stumbled out. Annie was well acquainted with the type: a girl-like humanoid about her size dressed in a school uniform and appearing to be about a week dead. Like the ones Kerry and she had trained with in the past, this one didn’t stink of rotting flesh, though Annie half expected that at some point Helena would throw a few like that at them to test their concentration.

The tracker zombie keyed on Annie and snarled, then began shambling towards her. She was aware that these homunculus moved faster than they appeared to move, but in the short time she’d had to set up Annie knew what she wanted to do to this thing. All of them want some sort of an exhibition— She pushed her hair back over her shoulders and began to craft.

The zombie girl was about four meters from Annie when two black ribbons eased down from the shadows and wrapped around the homunculus’ upper arms. The zombie snarled and thrashed, but couldn’t free itself from Annie’s spell. It stumbled forward another three meters, finally jerking to a stop about a half meter from the unmoving, unwavering Annie. With Annie close enough to touch it reached out, trying to get hold of her so it could carry out its instinct to bite.

Annie stood in front of the angry, snarling creature, showing no emotion. Once she was certain the homunculus was secure she reached out and took the zombie’s hand in her right and pressed it down hard. It was only as she began crafting the transformation spell that a slight smile finally appeared upon her face.

Slowly the zombie’s hair changed from the the dark brunette to a light blond almost the identical shade of Lisa’s hair. Annie knew it wasn’t necessary to go this far to make a point, but as like Kerry she’d grown tired of the girl’s crap, and while she didn’t know if the argumentative girl would get the point Annie was about to make, she knew others in their level would.

The little sorceress inhaled deeply, clearing her mind. What she was about to do next she’d done before, and under far different, more stressful, conditions. She focused her energy and pulled in the dark energy she needed finish crafting her Exsanguination spell. All that remained was for her to activate the spell with her will . . .

She raised her left hand close to her face and pointed her finger at the snarling face of the zombie.


So the kids wanted to see stuff, but they weren’t likely expecting Annie to go all Natural Born Killer on this simple homunculus.  Sure, it’s enchanted to make you go unconscious the moment it bites you, because you should always know that if this were real–and who’s to say this isn’t in this world?–you’d be Zombie Chow.

But Annie’s taking this shit to another level.  First, she shows she can truss up her zombie and that she has no fear it’s going to free itself from her shadow ribbons.  Then she works in her little bit of transformation magic she’s learned from Kerry and gives her homunculus the same shade of hair as Lisa.

And then she gets serious . . .


Blood immediately began gushing from the homunculus’ nose, ears, and mouth. The snarling increased as the creature’s head began whipping about, spraying Annie’s face and the upper half of her uniform jacket and blouse with flecks of blood. Annie gripped the creature’s hand and held it steady as the homunculus’ clothing began soaking up the blood seeping from its body. In a few seconds the creature’s eyes filled with blood and sprayed away from its face as a huge burst of fluids doused the floor under its feet. The homunculus jerked three times and went limp a few seconds before falling completely.

Annie took two steps back from the zombie before turning and presenting a bloody visage to her fellow students—some who were gasping, some who were retching. She swiped blood from her eyes and flicked it to the floor before waving her hand back over her shoulder to kill the shadow ribbons. “I hope—” She walked towards Helena as the lifeless zombie homunculus collapsed with a loud thud. “—that was what you expected, Professor.”

Helena nodded and did her damnedest to keep the smile on her face from being seen by anyone but Annie and Kerry. “That was was far more than expected, Annie.” She waited until Annie, bloody and smiling, stood at her left before nodding towards Kerry. “Give me a minute to jaunt this mess away, then it’s your turn.”


That Annie, she knows how to show off when she wasn’t intending to show off.  The thing is Annie doesn’t show off, and everything she did had a point–

"And I do hope you bitches saw that point . . ."

“And I do hope you bitches saw that point . . .”

Everyone in the room got to see Annie’s signature move, and managed to see it in a way that didn’t involve them screaming and running for their lives, as they likely would have done the first time Annie kicked this sucker off when it was meant to mean something.  Sure, the shade throwing wasn’t necessary, but as Helena once said, one of the best things you can get for yourself is a bad ass rep, and Annie certainly added to that one.

Up next, Kerry–

Just as soon as they bloody zombie is out of the room.

Details of Dark Witching

A comment came up yesterday, though it was more of a question:  if they heard Helena tell them, “I’m gonna show you how to kill someone,” they weren’t sure how they’d react.  Really, if you were twelve or thirteen and some scary woman told you she was gonna show you out to put out someone’s lights with magic, would you clench up and listen, or say, “Fuck this noise,” and head for the doors?

If you know this school, you know everyone’s in the first camp.  Mostly because anyone hitting the doors won’t be let back in class.  Helena would say there’s no shame there, not everyone can hack the darkness, and she’s probably wish you well in the rest of your studies.  In the meantime, however, she’s getting ready to launch all the kiddies down that path so she can see what shakes out.


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

Helena looked over the faces of her students and waited a few moments before continuing her talk. “Oh, wipe those shocked looks off your faces: most of you have wondered about this since the first day of sorcery class back in your A Levels when you got to see a Morte spell up close and personal.” Her eyes shifted slightly to her left, towards a couple of students standing to one side in the front of the group. “A couple closer than the rest of you.”

After the couple of students in question finished shaking their head and rolling their eyes, the Head Sorceress moved on. “As you know, as you were informed that day that there isn’t just one ‘death spell’, that there are seven Morte spells that can cause death, but the reality is if you are a skilled enough witch, any magic can be made deadly.

“For example . . .” She turned to her lift and began slowly pacing across the main room. “Never get into a fight with Professor Kishna. Any expert of transformation knows tons of magic they can use to give them a physical advantage over you—and if they know anything about transforming others—” She chuckled as she turned on her heel and paced back towards the center line of the room. “They could make you deaf or blind; they could make it difficult for you to breath; they could make it impossible for one’s nerve impulses to reach your limbs.” Helena shrugged. “Or they could just shut down your circulatory or nervous system and kill you in seconds. Not a pleasant way to go.

“Then there’s my special lady, Professor Sladen. She is by no means an expert Crafter of Dark Energies, but she has constructed some incredible mixtures that can heal whatever is wrong with you, or kill you just as quickly. She usually carries three or four weapons in Hammerspace, most filled with a concoction of her own design, and she’s proficient with each of them.

“And least you think only those of us who specialize in magic are the bad asses of the Aware Witch World, may I turn your attention to Professor Douglas. During The Scouring, when she was a thirteen year old C Level, she took on the Head Sorceress—” Helena raised her left hand and waved dramatically. “—and killed him with normal, simple magic. Because she is imaginative; because she is inventive; because she is that damn good.”

She stopped and faced her students. “Any which who is good and knows what they’re doing can take you on and take you out, and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it. Simply because someone isn’t a user of dark energies doesn’t mean they do you harm. However, being a sorceress does give you an advantage—just make sure you know your opponent and you don’t get too cocky.”


It behooves me to mention that during The Scouring, not only did Wednesday take out the Head Sorceress, but Jessica and Erywin also scored their own kills:  Erywin took out a couple of people with a big sci-fi like rifle filled with some of her magic goo that eats the flesh right off your body, and Jessica killed the Headmaster by . . . using transformation magic.  Yeah, that’s what happened.  Since Jessica and Erywin were instructors nothing happened to their files, but dear little Wednesday got something special added to hers:

"But all work and no killing makes Wednesday a dull girl!"

“But all work and no killing makes Wednesday a dull girl!”

But we’ll get into that “something special” in a bit, as Helena is gonna tell them about this spell–


Now that she’d told them a lot of information to put what they were about to do into prospective, she moved forward with her lesion. “It’s a given I’m going to teach Morte spells, but that only happens once we’re into the second half of your C Levels, and then further on into your D and E Levels—with the exception of this spell. What we’re going to start on today, and continue working on next week, goes by the name Lightning, as in ‘Calling down the’. It’s actually quite simple because it’s the only Morte spell that requires a foci, and that foci must give off some kind of energy. At the lower, easier levels, you pull from an existing source of magical energy which you may need to fortify with dark energy to craft the spell as true sorcery—and at the higher levels you can pull energy out of something as simple as a light bulb or mobile and focus the power to zap another person.

“The reason for starting you with this one is simple. One, in order to be a true master of this spell you need to learn a higher form of crafting, and you won’t learn those levels unless I invite you into C Level Sorcery. Two, the foci forms we’re using today are much like the forms we use for lighting throughout the school, only those forms are shielded so they can’t be used with this spell, so no worries that you’re going to leave here in a few weeks and start zapping fellow students in your coven commons.

“And three—and the most important part of the lesion—is seeing how you not only handle the crafting and use of the spell. For that not only helps determine if you are the sort of sorceress I want to invite into C Level Sorcery—” She clasped her hands before her as she grinned. “—but if your school record needs a yellow flag.”

Several seconds of silence passed before Leela Kaluwitharana asked the question that had popped up in the minds of several students. “What do you mean by having a yellow flag on your record?”


Now we see that what Helena is going to teach the kids is (1) a spell that isn’t one that’s easy to replicate at school, (2) can’t easily be done outside the school without additional learning, and (3) is going to be used by Helena to determine if you should go on to study that additional learning.  There is always a method to Helena’s madness, and this is sort of her “Pushing You Into the Deep End” to see if a student is ready to swim with the sharks.

And while we’ve touched on the whole “yellow flag” stuff before, Helena tells everyone in the room what it means, because unlike you, they’ve never heard of this stuff . . .


Helena loosely crossed her arms and began tapping her left forearm with her right index finger. “If any of you have ever pulled up your school records you’ll have seen a colored border around your student image. This is a color coding that we use to determine whether or not a student requires additional scrutiny due to their abilities as a witch. Nearly all of you have what we call green flagged files, which means there’s a green border around your picture. A yellow flagged file indicates that the student not only knows one or more spells that can be used to kill another person—usually Morte spells, but not always—but that they are in full command of that spell, and they can use it at varying levels of power.

“And since I know some of you are wondering and a few will ask—the next level up from that is red flagging. That means one thing: the student in question has used magic to kill another person. And there are a few students here with red flag files: they got them last school year during the Day of the Dead. They’re members of either our Air Assault Group or our Rapid Response Teams, and you’ll never hear them talk about what they did because having to kill someone is a duty that’s not to be taken lightly.”

Helena’s demeanor turned serious and not a little angry. “If I ever heard of any of my dark witches talking up about killing someone, they and I would have a quiet little chat far from the madding crowd, and my displeasure would be known. Fortunately—” She returned a slight nod in response to the two she’d seen. “—I don’t have to worry about that, because I know those I’ve trained, I’ve trained up right. So, if we—”

The distinctive accent of Edelmar Brodney from the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, ran out. “You said almost all of us are green flagged; there’s someone here who isn’t?”


Yeah, teach, are there kids in this room who are yellow flagged?  Silly students . . .


“That’s correct.” Helena sensed a few students looking in Annie’s direction, but didn’t bother acknowledging. “As I gather nearly all of you want to know your fellow yellow flagged levelmates, I’ll make it easy for you—” She raised her voice a touch. “All students here who are yellow flagged please come forward and stand to my left.”

A moment of silence passed before Annie stepped away from the mass of students, with Kerry a half a step behind. Seconds later they stood next to their instructor, with Kerry situated between the Helena and Annie. The Head Sorceress let out a gasp of mock surprise. “Well, isn’t this unexpected.” She turned back to the rest of the students. “Most of you likely became aware of Annie’s abilities to use Electrify after watching her fight in The Manor—though I’m certain she shocked the shite out of one student—” Helena smirked as she returned Lisa’s angry glare. “—but she also knew, and could control, Exsanguination before arriving at Salem: that means she was yellow flagged as soon as she walked through Founder’s Gate.

“What you didn’t know is that Kerry’s been hard at work learning the same Morte spells—under my guidance, in case someone feels the need to ask and/or complain. The reasons for his instructions are mine, but the end result is that he knows what Annie knows—” She gave him a slight pat on the shoulder. “Which means what Annie knows, he knows.”


Helena had to point out the obvious and throw some shade back at the Queen of Ass Covering, which only leads to more shade throwing–


“Can he fly, too?” The sarcasm in Franky Smith’s voice was unmistakable.

Kerry answered the question in a quiet yet assured tone. “There’s an easy way to find out, Franky.”


Well, there’s a thrown gauntlet if there ever was one.  But wait!


Helena glanced to her left and gave Kerry a smile. “Maybe sometime later, huh?”

A loud snort emanated from the student group. “Yeah, when he’s had a bit more training.”

Here we go again. Helena sigh wasn’t heard beyond her and the minions at her side, but she was certain it was seen. “What bug is up your arse this time, Lisa?”

“No bug, Professor.” Lisa made her way to the front of the group. “Only if you’re gonna brag on your brats, at least show us what they can do.” A dark grin spread across her face. “Kerry made the point: only one way to find out if he’s as bad ass as his—” Her face twisted around into a mask of scorn. “Girlfriend.”

The girlfriend was having none of this. “We’re not here to show off for you or anyone else.”

“I’m not talking to you, Annie—remember?” Lisa pointed at Kerry. “But I think we should see this supposed talent before he gets the chance to punk someone in the ring.”

Helena saw what was happening—Lisa was trying to prove Kerry’s abilities before someone, perhaps her, could call him out to The Manor—and she damned herself for opening this door. On the other hand . . . “Okay, then.” She turned to her left. “How do you both feel about giving a practical demonstration?”


Once more Helena finds herself in a position where she has to defend her minions–or, is she?  After all, we aren’t seeing what comes next, and as far as defending her choices of minions–well, there’s no need to do that this far into the school year.  Which means that whatever’s coming next–

It’ll likely be interesting.

Taking the Dark to the Next Level

It’s a slow going morning, that’s for sure.  Last night I went out to our local Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is one of those unofficial holidays that have popped up over the decades.  The TDR is meant to shed light upon those transpeople who were murdered during the past year, and those who killed themselves because there wasn’t a light at the end of the tunnel–and if you’ve followed the blog, you know I’ve had a few of those moments myself.

The event sees the names of the known dead read off, and this year, my first, I read the second of twenty-five names.  It’s not meant to be a happy moment; it’s meant as a reminder that just by being who I am my chances of being murdered increase by about fifty percent over the odd of ciswomen, and those odd literally double for transwomen of color.  Which is why when someone tells me this is a “lifestyle choice” I now ask them on the statistics of people who were killed because they were hispters, or who killed themselves due to being discriminated over their preference to drink PBR.

But it’s not my intention to bring you down today, not after finding out it’s World Hello Day.  So hello!  Let’s get to the writing.

I didn’t write anything last night, and this morning I haven’t exactly burned up the keyboard today.  However, I do plan on writing throughout the day between doing the wash and getting lunch and taking a nap:  all the normal stuff, you know.  But what I have written–ah, shit.  Yes, it’s not some happy time stuff, that’s for sure.  It’s just under three hundred words, but it’s going to set the mood for this scene like few others have set one.

What am I talking about?  This:


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

Unlike normal Mid-Level Sorcery classes, the B Levels assembled at the Firing Line instead of starting this Thursday morning at The Witch House. Few of the students were happy with the change—the walk to the Firing Line wasn’t any shorter than their normal walk—and some students got lost in the tunnels on their way to class, as they weren’t certain of the route to the building.

No one was certain of why the change of venue occurred, for the message detailing the change showed up as an email sent just after the previous evening’s dinner. Then again, few bothered challenging the thoughts and intentions of the Head Sorceress, as that usually led to grief the questioning student didn’t desire. More that a few students pointed out that it was better to say nothing and play to her whims than speak up and find an angry Kiwi glaring from a few centimeter beyond the tip of your nose.

At eight sharp Professor Lovecraft walked into the main section of the Firing Line where the students had been asked to gather. There was a low mummer among her students as a few commented softly on the sliver-colored sweater she wore under her ever-present leather duster, and that she had her black jeans tucked inside her high-heeled boots, something she only did on those occasions when she wanted appear extra menacing.

She stood before the gathering of students and regarded them for almost ten seconds. Finally she stuck her hands firmly within the pockets of her long coat and clicked her tongue before addressing her class. “Today I’m going to show you how to kill another person.”


Hey, good morning, kids!  Did you have a nice breakfast, ’cause I’m certain I can make a few of you toss that shit before class is out!

"Yeah, bitches:  time to show you what I do best."

“Yeah, bitches: time to show you what I do best.”

Before this scene is out you’re gonna know a little more about sorcery and these crazy death spells, and that’s what I’m gonna be working on today–

So you’ll have a bit of easy reading for your breakfast tomorrow.