Setup to the Afterdream

Sorta good, sorta bad, sorta strange evening.  First off, it was sorta sci fi, with me seeing the “rebooted” Star Trek for the first time and marveling at the lens flare and little else, before it segued into Childhood’s End, Part One, and I wasn’t completely disappointed, I am debating if I’ll bother with the rest tonight and Wednesday night.  Probably not, because of a number of changes that sort of ruined the story for me.  At least they sort of got the Karellen right . . .

Though my Overlords will always look like this to me.

Though my Overlords will always look like this to me.

I guess putting Charles Dance up in demon makeup isn’t the worst thing they could do–

But I'm half expecting him to tell us if we're not nice as a species, we're gonna go where all whores go.

But I’m half expecting him to tell us if we’re not nice as a species, we’re gonna go where all whores go.

A little bit of bummage came last night when I woke up at one in the morning and noticed that I no longer had a nose piercing.  Somewhere between about seven PM and six hours later it came out, and for all I know I swallowed it in my sleep.  The hole has also resealed, so I’ll need to re-pierce it.  I don’t think it’ll be a big deal, it’s just a bummer that I need to get a time to redo it.  Maybe they’ll put in the screw-in kind so it won’t fall out again.

And the cold is holding on, and has turned into a bit of a nagging cough.  I hate this.  Go the hell away.

After all this . . . six hundred and some words written, with the scene and mood changing a little.  I’ve moved everything over to the Office of the Headmistress, who doesn’t get a lot of stage time, but she’s always around–

 

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

“You like to start business early, don’t you?” Headmistress Mathilde Laventure moved behind her desk as her Chief Medical Officer and her Head Seer and Åsgårdsreia Coven Leader to their seats facing her. “Why the urgency that you needed to speak with me before I could return to Rhiannon so that I could partake in a meeting—in ninety minutes, mind you—with Paris and the Washington Educational Council?”

Coraline crossed her legs and set her tablet against her knee. “We have a situation with a student, Headmistress. A possible serious one.”

“I see.” Mathilde tapped her own computer monitor on. “What sort of serious situation, Doctor?”

Coraline blanched as she always did when she was addressed by her actual title. Though she’d continued to encourage students, staff, and instructors to address he by her former title of “Nurse”,

Headmistress Laventure had begun pressuring her to embrace her actual profession. Sure, old habits die hard, but if there’s anything I’ve learned about being in The Foundation, it’s you have to go forward into the future, or you get left behind in the past. “I think Deanna can better handle that explanation.”

“Really.” The headmistress faced her other guest. “And what is this possible serious situation?”

“We have a student under our care—” She indicated herself and Coraline. “—who has been suffering from a series of dreams that at first seemed innocuous—”

Coraline built upon Deanna’s statement. “But have recently become rather disturbing to him.”

“Him.” Mathilde sat back and set her hands in her lap, an action she often followed when she was about to turn authoritative. “This wouldn’t happen to be someone presently checked into the hospital?” She examined the look exchanged between the two women on the other side of her desk. “I was up at five-ten and, as you know, one of the first things I do is read the evening’s reports while having coffee. Your night nurse recorded an incident at one fifty-two that required your summoning—” She pointed to Coraline. “—and you—” She pointed at Deanna. “—showed up as well at two thirty-two.” She rested her hands back in her lap. “Since there were only two patients on the ward last night, and one of them is a girl, I have to assume the student in question is Kerry Malibey.”

Coraline and Deanna exchanged glances before the doctor answered. “That’s correct.”

 

Now, before the Headmistress gets into the details of Kerry’s problem, she has questions about Kerry’s other problem . . .

 

“Did Annie sleep with Kerry last night?” The headmistress turned a quizzical look upon her guests.

Coraline fielded the answer again. “She didn’t last night. But . . . she was in the bay with Kerry.”

“Which is normal for her whenever Kerry is injured.” Deanna didn’t want Coraline to continued being singled out for inquiry. “The last time he spent the night there she slept in the next bed—as she did last evening.”

“Let’s just hope their parents don’t find out about this.” Mathilde smirked as she moved about in her chair. “I can imagine what Annie’s parents would say if they knew their thirteen year old daughter was sleeping with her boyfriend.”

“She doesn’t do it all the time.” Coraline shrugged. “Let’s be honest, Mathilde: if they want to sleep together—or do more—they can do so outside the hospital.”

“And they’ve had ample opportunity—” Deanna brushed hair back away from her face. “Both this level and their last. At least when they’re in the hospital we know they’re not engaging in sexual relations.”

Mathilde leaned her head to the side. “Still, there’s those evenings we know they’ve spent together in the commons—”

Deanna smile was devastatingly charming. “We could always speak with them about this:  perhaps the talk will get back to Kerry’s parents and his mother can write you another letter.”

 

Ooooh, burn, Deanna!  Yeah, I’m sure Mathilde is still having a laugh over that letter . . .

"If it weren't because I know that you know that I want to smack you, I'd smack you."

“If it weren’t because I know that you know that I’m thinking of smacking you, I’d smack you.”

Well, you know, Headmistress, if you want Annie’s parents to know their daughter has been snoozing with her boyfriend now and then, you could probably just tell them.  It would be interesting to see the Annie’s parents jaunting over to speak with the headmistress, which is probably why she’s avoiding telling them.  And let’s not even bring Kerry’s parents into this mix–

There is a point to this scene, and I’m about to get to it.  And in the process we’ll learn just a little bit more about what some of that stuff meant.

And maybe, in the end, Mathilde will think about sitting the kids down to have another talk . . .

Upon Their Ways

This is it:  the final scene with the Headmistress of the School of Salem.  For after this moment she’ll be seen no more–and I mean that, at least for this story.  In fact, from here on out you’ll only hear from four more instructors and a staff member before the book reaches its conclusion, and a few other adults here and there, but with the exception of one scene, it’s all Annie and Kerry from here on out.  And even in the scene where it’s two instructors talking, Annie and Kerry are sorta there as well.

There is, however, one more scene I may add, and that’s Kerry finally returning home.  We saw him leave–a long time ago, I might add–with Ms. Rutherford, and after returning from the school he’ll return home with her.  By putting this in, the end of the novel will sort of reflect the beginning, where we saw Annie first, then two scenes with Kerry.  The end of the novel with have two scenes with Kerry, then Annie alone.  A nice little bookend.

But first, a last supper, if you will, at the Salem Institute for Greater Learning and Education.

 

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

Headmistress Mathilde Laventure ascended the podium and watched the students gathered for the last dinner of the current school year. With the graduating class and the Last Cuts now home or on their way, the students now gathered in the Dining Hall numbered thirty-five fewer than this time last week. We’re missing a Coven and a quarter. She took her place behind the podium and activated the microphone spell. Let’s hope we can make that up next year.

“Good evening, students.” She scanned the crowd before her. “As you are aware, this is out last dinner together this school year, our last opportunity to enjoy each other’s camaraderie—a chance to enjoy one last, good meal before we depart Salem.

“Some of you will leave tonight, so we can get you to the other side of the world in an agreeable time. Most of you will sleep for a last time this year in your coven towers, awake tomorrow and partake in an enjoyable breakfast. Most of you will leave in the space between then and lunch; the rest of you will leave later in the afternoon. By tomorrow evening all of you will be back in your own homes, eating dinner with your families, sleeping in your own beds. Your time with us will have come to an end; the following morning you will begin your summer holiday.”

 

While what Mathilde says is correct, the are thirty-five fewer students than a week before, the graphic I showed you yesterday is wrong, because I left off something:  the nine students that died during the Day of the Dead attacks.  Factor those in and we have one hundred and five students at this dinner.  (I give that number because one of the deceased students was an F Level and is one of the two that didn’t make it to graduation.)  I’ll now have to fix that because, hey, I’m all about getting it right.

After a few things said about how lucky everyone is to be moving on–or leveling up, if you will–she turns her attention to the new students who aren’t so new any more.

 

She shifted her gaze to the children sitting closest to the dais, her smile still radiant. “It is a special moment for you A Levels, for you finally leave the fishbowl and enter the pond. From this moment on you are a integrated part of the school, meaning you may participated in inter-cover sports and other extra-curricular activities. Keep in mid, however, that you’ll now be held to an even higher standard of conduct than you were this year, and where you could beg ignorance for grievances and misdemeanors, that is no longer true. You know the rules and regulations: you now understand how Salem works. Incidences as A Levels which may have led to verbal warnings and minor detentions will merit far sterner punishments. And you will quickly discover that if you cause problems for another student, those students have ways of rectifying their grievances.”

 

This “rectifying their grievances” thing has been hinted at when the expression “call them out” has been used.  They’re talking about magical combat, where someone gets tired of being picked on and has the chance to fix that situation by heading out to the Manor where Self Defense is taught and doing their best to beat the shit out of the other person with spells.  Naturally if you’re good with, say, sorcery, you’ll have an advantage–and should you know, oh, Morte spells, the chances are pretty good no one will ever mess with you.  You’ll also be watched a lot closer by Security as well, and if you end up bullying people because you know they can’t do anything against your magic, you may find yourself being called out by the Chief of Security–and that would be bad.

With that we get to the end of Mathilde’s speech, and something special . . .

 

Mathilde looked to her right and nodded to one of the kitchen staff. “And now, a tradition our upper level mates know quite well, but which we’ve kept hidden as best we can from our A Levels. If you will . . .” A champagne flute of nearly clear, bubbling liquid appeared before not just the A Levels, but every student in the hall. As a murmur rose among the A Levels, the headmistress spoke. “There’s no need to get excited: it’s sparkling apple juice. If we were in France, however . . .” She chuckled at her own joke, then grew more serious. “This school has a long and storied history, and with every additional year we instruct the Aware, that history grows even more storied. There are many graduates of this institution who have went on to initiate great changes within The Foundation, and in some instances, throughout the world as well.

“I see the A Levels sitting before me, and I can’t help but wonder: will your names be immortalized one day in the Hall of Remembrance? Some of you have already earned a special place there—” She grinned but did not look at any students in particular. “—but I suspect that a few of you will achieve greatness. When we say ‘You are the future’, I firmly believe that a few of you will make differences that will affect not only the Aware and The Foundation, but the world as a whole. You will help make the future for all of us and those who follow.

“With that said, a toast.” She raised her flute, as did all the instructors and staff sitting on either side of the headmistress. A few seconds later, every student in the hall did likewise. “To the past and the success we’ve archived; to the present and the events which shape our character and our being; and to the future, which we will shape for the betterment of everyone.”

Mathilde set her flute aside and lightly drummed her fingers against the podium. “But enough of me talking . . .” She spread her arms wide and smiled. “Let’s eat.”

 

Yeah, lets toast the students, and let them toast themselves, and hope the kids who are good with transformation magic don’t ferment that apple juice a little too much before sucking it down.  You can bet every instructor on that dais is turning up their Spidey Senses just waiting for some kid to go, “Yeah, I’ll fix this!” so they can finish off dinner with a good buzz.  Save that for when you’re out of school and you can hang with your witchy friends.

"Remember all those times we nearly died trying to change the world?  Yeah, good times.

“Remember all those times we nearly died trying to change the world with magic? Yeah, that was fun.”

So there you have it:  the absolute last school activity.  Next scene is the following morning, a Friday, and it’s time to leave . . .

The Long Farewell

Here we are, now, the beginning of the end, and it’s reaching us oh, so slowly.  I was kind of rubbish last night in terms of getting the scene done, but I did everything else:  I paid bills, I hunted down shoes, I wrote out an interview, and I took a nap because I was feeling knackered.

It’s pretty much the story of my days these days.

I did get a lot done, however.  The end of the novel is formatted nicely and is, pretty much, in its final form:

Every last part, chapter, and scene in its place.

Every last part, chapter, and scene in its place.

Now all the part and chapter cards are there, the final scene is cut in two as I planed, and I’m considering going through each scene and doing as I did in the Day of the Dead section, and putting notations for date and time of day in place, so people aren’t confused by something they think is out of order.  Then if they say, 3 May, Late Afternoon, coming after 3 May, Morning, they won’t wonder, “Hey, does this scene take play after the last one?”  Yes, Virginia, it does.

(The whole novel is in order from front to back, with events taking place in chronological order.  The only reason I set up the time notation for the Day of the Dead Attack is because things were happening close together.  From the time Kerry crashes during the penetration of the screens, to the Level Three lock down, to the argument between Wednesday and Isis and Wednesday going out to charge the nodes and running into Erywin, to conversation between the headmistress and Isis, and to Kerry waking up after charging the brooms, is about forty minutes.  And as you can see from what I just wrote out, a lot happened.)

So no more messing with this or with checking the weather–okay, maybe once there–and no more looking at maps . . . okay, maybe one.  But that’s it.  I have dinner at Panera tonight, and there I finish Mathilde’s farewell for the year speech, which has something special in it that I dreamed up at work yesterday between bouts of hating on a program I’m testing.  And speaking of hr farewell speech, I also did this last night:

When you're speaking to students, one must know how many are there.

When you’re speaking to students, one must know how many are there.

Before this story started I figured out the counts for each level–I also have the counts for each Coven, the people from each country, and even the breakdown between the girls and the boys.  But this one . . . it’s almost a week after graduation, and I wanted to know how many students were sitting in the Dining Hall this one time.  The first number are the students in each level on 2 September, Orientation Day.  This is followed by the number of students who didn’t make the cut to the next level, and the total of each level that is sitting there listening to the headmistress.  Of course there aren’t any F Levels there:  they graduated.  And you can see, two didn’t graduate–they didn’t make the Final Cut.

One hundred and thirteen students, thirty-five less than they started with at the start of the year, when Mathilde came in to this same room to welcome everyone back and greet the new students.  If you’re sitting in this room, Mathilde will remind you that you’re moving on to the next level.

You made it.  You’re still a member of Salem.

And just like with Chicago Cubs baseball, there’s going to be a next year.

Unstandard Operations

NaNo counts were made, Act Three was begun, and one scene completed, but it wasn’t easy.  There are good days and bad days in the mental health game, and yesterday was one of those bad days.  Really bad days.  As in, if it were any worse of a bad day, I wouldn’t need to worry about any days after that.  It’s also not easy when it’s a carry over from the day before, which is to say the bad day started on Friday afternoon.  It seems to have dissipated, but . . . I’m watching hard.  Really hard.  Because I don’t need any bad days.

A lot like this, only worse.  But I'm better now . . .

A lot like this, only worse. But I’m better now . . .

The thing is I still wrote.  I still managed seventeen hundred words, which I consider and accomplishment, because there were times when I felt paralyzed by what was running through me.  But the story must move, and it’s important to get things said.  So I stuck to it and got down to business, because even when everything is going to hell around you, you keep your wits about you.

Helena would have been proud.  speaking of her . . .

So this Gabriel dude comes calling.  You can tell he’s a spooky dude, because he’s doing his best to act like a spooky dude.  The headmistress let him into her residence, but she’s not happy about it.  At least he gets to why he’s there right away . . .

 

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

He finally stopped his examination and turned to the headmistress. “The designers have done an excellent job keeping the structure up to date while maintaining the look and feel of the original construction.”

“Perhaps you should have gone into that line of work.” Mathilde didn’t offer her unwanted visitor an opportunity to sit. “I’m surprised Isis didn’t inform me of your arrival.”

“That’s because I had a gag order with me.” Gabriel finally unbuttoned his coat. “San Francisco thought it best if I came unannounced.”

Helena looked down and mutter loud enough for all to hear. “What horseshit.”

“It doesn’t matter.” Mathilde was aware of the animosity Helena and Mr. Gabriel shared, and didn’t want it to blow up into a confrontation here. “You said the Guardians had questions and they were looking for answers. What answers do you require, Mr. Gabriel?”

As before he didn’t hesitate to get right to his answer. “We’re interested on the progress of some of your students. We’re in need of reporting.”

Mathilde was aware of the sort of reporting the Guardians often requested, but she needed more. “Weren’t my End of the Year summaries sufficient?”

“They were as always, Headmistress.” Gabriel began walking in a slow circle around the room. “We require specifics in the form of a detailed report.”

“I see. How many students are we discussing here?”

“Only two: A Levels.” He glanced from right to left as he moved around the room. “It shouldn’t be an issue.”

 

Hummm, only two A Levels.  Well . . . any guesses as to those students?

 

Mathilde was almost afraid to ask the names of the students in question. “Do these A Levels have names?”

Gabriel nodded slowly. “Anelie Kirilova and Kerrigan Malibey.”

Jessica turned to Erywin and Helena. “Why am I not surprised?”

 

So now the secret police people have come calling, and they want information.  Although . . .

 

Mathilde ignored the comment. “Everything that could be said about them was mentioned in my reports to the Educational Council and to the Guardians.” She worked to keep her emotions off her face as she spoke. “What more are you looking for?”

“More than they are Extraordinary marks in all proficiencies in all classes.” Gabriel stopped before the headmistress and eyed her closely. “That tells us nothing other than they are outstanding students—oh, and there is the matter of their being placed in Advanced Spells.” He began rubbing his chin. “Quite a feat for two A Levels.”

“As the report indicated, they’re extraordinary.”

“So extraordinary that Helena has given Kirilova access to the Black Vault.”

Helena shot Gabriel a terrifying look. “That was never in any of my reports.”

“That doesn’t mean we didn’t know.” Gabriel began moving in a tight circle in the middle of the sitting room, marking off points as he spoke. “Just as we know that Kirilova is likely learning another Morte spell; just as we know that’s she’s become proficient in Botany, Formulistic Magic, and Transformation Magic as well as sorcery; that she’s constantly managed to complete assignment for spells and formulas one or two levels higher than her current level—oh, and that she worked out an Air Hammer spell on the fly during the middle of a class test in Basic Self Defense.”

He turned and pointed at the headmistress. “And Malibey is doing all the same things, though he probably hasn’t learned any Morte spells yet, though he is becoming even better with Transformation spells than Kirilova—” He looked straight at Jessica. “He’s becoming quite handy with Simple Personal Transformations, isn’t he?”

He turned back on Mathilde. “Not to mention they have their own private lab in the bowels of Cernunnos Tower, which is quite an accomplishment for a couple of A Levels, one who was born a Normal—”

Helena had heard enough. “Who’s your mole, Gabriel?”

Gabriel chuckled. “As if I would tell you.”

 

Moles are not unusual, just to let you know.  While Helena is, more of less, the only semi-active Guardian working the school, that doesn’t mean she’s handy with information.  And even if she was, that doesn’t mean that the Guradians wouldn’t fall back on another source if required.  Like it or not, it gives the Guardians as real Ministry of Truth vibe, though they are pretty benevolent, because something else if afoot, because Mathilde asks–

 

“If you know what they can do, why do you require reports?”

“Because they require official confirmation of their abilities.” Helena stood a few steps behind the headmistress’ right. “They can’t go off their mole’s word, because it’s just hearsay: they need documentation from the school officials. That’s the only way they can use the information.”

Mathilde didn’t look at Helena; she continued staring at Gabriel. “And what are you doing to do with the report?”

Helena answered for Gabrial because she knew he wouldn’t. “You’re thinking of using them for a field op, aren’t you?”

Gabriel unmoving face remained that way. “I couldn’t tell you if that was true or not.”

“No? First, that’s bullshite; I still have a field operator’s rating . . .” Helena nonchalantly pointed at Gabriel. “And two: the only people in the Guardians who’d tell me they can’t tell me are you blimin hoons in SOP.” She moved closer, now standing next to Mathilde. “Is that true? Is Special Operations and Programming working up a field op for our Lovey Dovey couple?” She cocked her head to one side and did frightening: she smiled.

The smile wasn’t returned. “If the SOP were putting together an operation, Helena, I couldn’t tell you.” Gabriel did smirk. “You’re out of the loop.”

“Not by much; I’ve done operations for SOP before—”

“Yeah, I remember the last one . . .” Now the smile appeared. “How many people died? Three thousand?”

 

Reminding the Mistress of All Things Dark that she was on an operation that saw three thousand people dying doesn’t set well with her–and, yes:  I know what said operation was.  But the interesting words here are field op, and in field operation, as in, “Let’s go out and have some fun kids.”  Only . . . is it really gonna be fun?

It behooves Gabriel at that point to get all official on the headmistress.  And . . .

 

Once Helena was back with Erywin and Jessica, Gabriel decided it was time to finish his business with the headmistress. “The Guardians would like a detailed report on the abilities of Kirilova and Mabiley compiled and delivered in electronic form by 1 March—though if you could have it finalized by 15 February that would be even better.” He rested his hands at his side. “Do you have any questions, Headmistress?”

“No, none at all.” Mathilde took one step towards Gabriel. “May I see the official request, please?”

The smirk that was affixed to Gabriel’s face slowly vanished. “I’ve just given it to you.”

“Oh, no, Mr. Gabriel. Official requests from any agency addressed to this school must be delivered either as a hard copy print-out, or as an electronic document.” She took another step closer to the Guardian representative. “Official requests of any kind, particularly those pertaining to the creation of official documents, must follow these protocols.” Mathilde took one final step and was almost nose-to-nose with Gabriel. “And at Salem I demand that protocol be followed—especially where the wellbeing of my children are concerned.” She leaned her head forward slightly. “Do you have any questions, Mr. Gabriel?”

He silently appraised the headmistress. “I was hoping we could dispense with that particular protocol.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I refuse to act unless I have an proper official order.” She straightened and crossed her arms. “I wouldn’t be a good headmistress if I didn’t follow my own rules, would I?”

Gabriel saw there wasn’t much of point it trying to argue or force the issue. “I suppose you’re right.”

“I am. Also . . .” She raised her right index finger. “If you ever come onto these grounds again, unannounced or otherwise, with the intention of trying to bully something out of me, I’ll turn my instructors loose upon you.” She half tuned to the right and shot a withering stare in Gabriel’s direction. “Indigne fils de pute.”

 

Mathilde pulls a Riddick, and Gabriel discovers he did not know who he was fucking with.  And the image of Mathilde standing in front of her staff, pointing at someone, and yelling “Sic ’em!” is a great one indeed.  Maybe Dumbledore should have done that when Lucius Malfoy came calling . . .

Needless to say, this is the opening salvo–

And titling the next scene Helena Demands is a pretty good indication there'll be some demanding.

And titling the next scene Helena Demands is a pretty good indication there’ll be some demanding–

But we are finally seeing what’s happening behind the scenes.

And if you think this is the end of that, well . . . I’m gonna have to do a Riddick on you.

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/8:  1,707

NaNo Total Word Count:  16,478

The Calm Before the Crazy

After yesterday’s “I got up and had to pour out my heart” moment, I’m back to the writing.  Sort of, I guess.  Well, really I am, but it was slow, because the last couple of days have been slow–

Enough of that.  The first scene of Chapter Twenty is finished.  It took a little bit of doing to get there, because the last couple of days I’ve been all over the place, mentally and emotionally.  This means distractions, and this means the mind not being on the writing.  I’ve slowed down after Camp because . . . well, I don’t know.  There seems to be this writing lethargy that’s fallen over me, and it’s a hard one to shake.  It’s probably due to being a quarter of a million words into the story, and being tired as all hell when I get home to want to write some more.

But it’s getting there, slowly.  Very slowly.

"Dear Novel:  why are you taking so long to write?  You are such a pain.  PS:  pick up milk."

“Dear Novel: why are you taking so long to write? You are such a pain. PS: pick up milk.”

I’m also playing with some video, which I did last night–and play is the operative word here, because it sucked when I looked at what I made.  I need to hone my speaking skills before I get too much into trying to do this stuff.  Maybe it’s easier for me to just speak before the video and leave it at that.

Where is the writing, though.  Right down here, with Annie firing the opening salvo for her “What Are Deconstructors?” primer:

 

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

“Mama didn’t tell me about the Deconstructors until I was almost nine.” Annie was selecting items from the breakfast buffet as she spoke to Kerry. “It was after my mother and I encountered an incident in Hong Kong, and she figured I should know more about certain aspects of our world.”

“Like who the bad guys are?” Kerry cast a quick sideways glance as he placed strawberries on his plate.

Annie did sometimes wonder what Kerry thought about Annie coming from a completely different world—one where she could teleport around the world, where magic and super science was a major part of her life, where she was made aware before she was ten that there were people who might kill her if given the chance.

She didn’t like talking about her life away from school, not even when . . . No, don’t go there now; if there is going to be trouble, you need to keep your mind clear.  “Yes. My mother thought it important that I learn our world—the world wasn’t as perfect as I might have thought. It was a good learning experience.” She turned away from the buffet and headed for their table with Kerry right behind her.

 

Sure, she doesn’t like telling Kerry about her life–in fact, she’s done very little of that.  Does it bother her a little that Kerry isn’t of The Body?  That she fell in love with a kid from the wrong side of the tracks?  Push that out of your mind:  Annie doesn’t like to brag, which is what she thinks going on about her life becomes.  She’s a modest girl–and don’t worry:  Kerry will find out enough in time.

Like this:

 

“The Deconstructors didn’t seem to become a problem until the late 1960’s, early 1970’s. They were behind a lot of the social and political disruptions of the time. They avoided direct confrontation with The Foundation, but that started changing in the 1990’s—”

“You mean The Scouring?”

Annie had shown this part of the school’s history to Kerry just before Samhain, taking him down the Hall of Remembrance, showing him the pictures of the staff, instructors, and students who’d died, the pictures of Director Mossman, and Professors Douglas and Arrakis, who played their parts in saving the lives of students and staff, and in the case of Isis and Wednesday, protecting the school from outside forces. Rather than being horrified, Kerry was fascinated, pouring over the pictorial history of the event, and somewhat surprised to discover that Professor Arrakis had been responsible for helping save nearly everyone in Åsgårdsreia Coven Tower. He’d remarked that he hadn’t realized she was the heroic type.

“That’s exactly what I mean.” Annie ate for a minute or two before telling Kerry the rest. “The way Mama spoke, at one time the Deconstructors complained that The Foundation was holding back technology and information on magic that would make life easier for Normals, but somewhere along the line they became contrary and hateful.” She dipped her spoon a few times into her yogkurt, debating if she should eat. “She said they liked to claim they believed in laissez faire magic, when in reality they were just anarchists almost as bad as the Berserkers.”

 

Laissez faire witches.  Maybe that should be the name of my next garage band.  But we go from there; the Headmistress comes in and explains that red glow in the sky, and it’s really very simple–

 

“You have seen, I am sure, the red sky over the school while on your way to breakfast this morning. The sky has not changed: rather, our Director of Security, Isis Mossman, has moved the school to Security Level One because of incidences that occurred at other schools within The Foundation network early this morning. I was informed of these incidences at five this morning, and granted her the authority to take us to our current security level.

“The following protocols are now in place: the defense screen emanating from the outer walls has been set at one hundred percent, causing the red tint you see. All outer exits, gates, and portals have been sealed, and screened, so it is impossible for anything to get in or out through the walls. And the school-wide security detection grid has been set for manual processing, which means Isis’ team in the Security Center can watch the movements of everyone on the school grounds.”

 

There’s also a simple reason why it glows red, and that will show up in a little bit.  And speaking of showing up, if there’s one thing Isis likes to do, it’s make an entrance:

 

“Allow me to reiterate—” The Headmistress pulled herself up straight, accentuate her height and authority. “Director Mossman has instituted our current security level as a precaution and nothing more. Classes will proceed on a normal schedule—”

The west door flew open and Isis flew though, touching down in the empty space between the students and the gathered instructors about five meters from the closing door. She shouted as she stomped towards the Headmistress. “Ni estas mallumo; ni estas en la mallumo. La tuta fucking sistemo nur iris malhela.”

Mathilde motioned for Isis to calm down. “Isis, bonvolu: ne antaŭ la studentoj. Nun, malrapidigi kaj ekspliki.”

Kerry leaned close to Annie so he wouldn’t be overheard. “What are they saying? Do you know?”

Anne shook her head. “No, I don’t. But I’ve heard my parents speak in this language when they didn’t want me to know what they were saying . . .”

 

And what was being said between Isis and Mathilde?  Besides Isis dropping an f-bomb n there?  Believe it or not, a real language.  Something that Annie has heard her parents speak, but doesn’t know herself.  You’ll find out about that next time, actually.  I only have to write the scene.

That is where I am, and where I left off.  It’s a matter now of setting up what’s actually going on, and since the next scene is called, “In the Dark,” it’s sort of easy to figure that out.  I think.

I also have to adjust some time lines here.  They’re off and wonky.  Damn.  My work is never done.

Time be time, I know that, but sometimes that time gotta be right, you know?

Time be time, I know that, but sometimes that time gotta be right, you know?

Shaking the Spell Queen

With enough rest comes the renewed energy to tackle your projects.  Or so it is said.  In my cash I think the extra energy came from a dinner of good sushi and saying a satisfying farewell to Cosmos.  It triggered something in me to go forth and be a little more strident, a bit more awesome, maybe even a touch more creative.

I was also bolstered by the fact that this last weekend was my best for views ever.  Saturday was one of my best days for legitimate views–where I wasn’t being botted to death, which has happened before–and this weekend ended up being one of my first to see more than a thousand views for the week.  That doesn’t sound like a lot when I compare it to the views that some of my friends get, but I’d rather go for quality over quantity when it comes to followers.

And I now know that writing about near death experiences brings everyone to my front yard for my milkshakes.  Probably won’t do many of those, however.  Can’t afford the time.

Oh, and there was writing, too.

"About time, Cassie.  I'm only here to watch you stumble through your story--"

“About time, Cassie. I’m only here to see you stumble through your story–“

Um, thanks?

I was on a tear last night.  I finished one scene and sunk five hundred words into the next.  When I finished up I’d put nearly sixteen hundred words behind me, and tops Act Two over twenty-five thousand words.  That means the story is now in the one hundred and seventy-five thousand word range now, and by the time I finish Chapter Fourteen, that’ll probably edge right up against one hundred eighty thousand.  Yeah, I got a monster on my hands, but it hasn’t gotten away from me–

Yet.

So what happened?  My kids surprised the hell out of my Mistress of Magic, the Queen of Spells, Wednesday, who didn’t know where that fire alarm came from.  But she sure found out more than she wanted . . .

 

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

Kirilova and Malibey wore work gloves while loading what appeared to be charred wood into a couple of large canvas totes, only to look up when Wednesday stopped about a meter from them. The professor looked about the room before turning her gaze upon them. “What’s going on here?”

The children looked at each other for a moment as if they didn’t understand the question. Annie finally spoke up. “We’re just finishing up, Professor.”

“Yes, but what were you doing?”

“Spells.” Annie pointed to the charred wood that Kerry was finishing loading into the tote. “So we could make charcoal.”

“It’s our project for Professor Semplen.” Kerry removed his work gloves as he stood. “We figured it would be easier to make charcoal using magic.”

Annie nodded in agreement. “That’s why asked if we could use the spell cell—we had to use fire.”

“That’s the reason I’m here.” Wednesday slowly walked around the fire pit Annie and Kerry used. “The fire alarm went off in my office, but I get here and there’s no indicate the safety enchantments worked.” She stopped and looked at them across the metal pit. “Did anything out of the ordinary happen?”

Again the students looked at each other as if they were trying to coming to an silent agreement. Annie absentmindedly brushed her fingers through her hair. “I may have set it off when I was terminating the fire spell. It flared for a moment: that might have been enough to set off the alarm.”

But why didn’t it set off the enchantments? Wednesday was missing something here, and before she could reach a conclusion, she needed to know what went on in this cell. “Tell me all the magic you performed here.” She flashed Annie a quick smile. “Please?”

“Sure.” Annie pulled off her own work gloves as she rehashed what was used. “First Kerry did a pattern transformation on the wood. Then I created cold fire and an ice encasement—”

“Which I helped with a little.” Kerry tossed his gloves in the tote and moved towards the shelf where they’d laid his computer and phone.

“Yes, he did. And once those were in place, he put a time spell around everything to speed up the process, so we didn’t have to wait twelve hours for the charcoal—”

“We only needed fifteen minutes.”

“That’s all we did.” Annie shifted her weight onto her back leg and folded her hands in front of her. “Nothing more than that.”

Wednesday held her shock in check, if only because Annie’s answers brought forth additional questions. “Who else helped you with this?”

“I’m sorry?” Annie blinked several times, not certain if she’d heard the professor correctly. “I told you what we did.”

“You mean you two did all those spells? Alone?”

“Yes, Professor.” Annie straightened her back the tiniest amount. “We did all those spells—” She looked over at Kerry. “Together.”

He finished packing things in his backpack. “Yeah, we did this all on our own.”

 

Take that, Spell Girl!

Actually, Wednesday’s a bit shook up, because–though I don’t show it in this scene–she knows why that fire alarm went off, and it’s not leaving her with a good feeling.  Especially when this comes out:

 

Wednesday shook her head. “No, it’s okay, Kerry.” She gave both a smile, hoping to show she wasn’t upset. “No, you guys are okay. Do you have anything more to do?”

Annie shook her head. “No. Just need to empty the bucket, put back the books, and take our charcoal over to the greenhouse.”

Wednesday’s right eyebrow shot up. “Books?”

“Yes. Books.” Annie showed her the book she’d found in the lower level library. “I used this for the ice encasement.”

“Oh, nice.” Wednesday’s shock was starting to deepen, because she was nearly afraid to ask the next question. “How many times did you practice this?”

“I didn’t.” Annie stared back at Wednesday with a hint of her own amazement. “I read about how the spell should work, and crafted my visualization here.”

“Same with me.” Kerry set his book on time spells next to Annie’s book. “You know, did it natural, like you suggested that one day, Professor.”

Yes, I did suggest something like that, didn’t I? Wednesday was literally at a loss for words. There were so many things she wanted to ask, even more she could say, but here and now was not the time to say those things. That was for another time . . .

 

Here, my child, take this book on levitating buildings in three easy steps and get back to me in the morning.  There’s also another part right before this when Wednesday realizes she should have checked on what these kids were going to do before turning them loose.  Then again, who expected kids that have been on campus for a month to start doing strange shit that students a few levels higher have difficulty doing?  No one, that’s who.

And therein lay the problems.

So what does Wednesday do?  Well, she’s a good instructor, and she has a plan–one that involves going here in its entirety:

 

Mathilde Laventure loved this time of day: the sun was setting on the other side of The Great Hall, and it presented her with a fantastic view of the East Pentagram Garden and Mórrígan Tower through the two large windows set on either side of her desk in the wall behind her. Whenever she found a free moments she’d stand and gaze out upon the this little part of the Salem Institute and try to imagine what the garden was like a hundred years before, or two hundred, or even three hundred, long before The Foundation bought the grounds so they could learn magic from the witches who’d founded the school.

Not that she had a lot of time to stand and admire her garden. September and most of October were busy: then, after Samhain, came a short November break before rushing into December and Yule holiday and First Half of the School Year student evaluations that it was necessary for her to compile, approve, and submit to the Educational Council and the Guardians.

Still, one needed to take time from business now and then, and enjoy whatever little pleasures life provided—

There was a knock on the open door. Wednesday stood in the entrance, looking a bit frazzled. “You have a minute? We need to talk.”

But I will have to enjoy those pleasures at a later time. “My Mistress of Spells, what is ever the problem?” Mathilde motioned for her to entered and waved the door shut the moment she was inside.

Wednesday stood before the Headmistress’ desk, but didn’t take a seat. She went right into what was on her mind. “I think we have a situation that needed our attention.”

Mathilde didn’t like “situations”. They usually bode ill for the school, the instructors and staff—and for the students who were often at the center of these problems. “Who or what is the cause of this problem?”

“Two students. They were just out at the Spell Center.”

“What happened?” Mathilde knew that when situations arose at the Spell Center they were rectified quickly if Wednesday were present, or able to teleport there as soon as she received word of a problem. Right now, however, the instructor appeared slightly rattled, and that bothered Mathilde because her Mistress of Spells was someone who didn’t rattle easily.

Wednesday eyes one of the chairs situated before the headmistress’ desk, but remained on her feet. “Can I show you?” She pointed to the terminal on the desk. “It might be easier to explain while we watch.”

Mathilde waved her around to the other side, and turned the display and keyboard for her to use. “Show me what?”

“Security camera footage.” Wednesday began typing, accessing her portion of the school’s network. “I monitor everything that goes on down in the lower level spell cells.” She pulled up the footage she wanted and slightly turned the display back towards the headmistress. “Nothing really bad ever happens down there, but once in a while I get something like . . . this.”

 

Wait?  They have a network?  Yeah, because they know you can’t run this joint on owl shit.  You need computers and data bases and email–you know, all the stuff that one finds in the Twenty-First Century?  And security cameras in the spell cells?  Wends, you little snitch!

And how do I know Wednesday isn’t easily shaken?  Well, there was a time when she could be shaken, but then–hey, come look at something I wrote almost a year ago, about the time when Wends was but a student at Salem . . .

 

(Follow excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, The Scouring, copyright 2013, by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“What are you doing out here?” Warnstedt always felt a little uneasy around Rory, but he often felt that way around sorcerers and sorceresses. It was something in their way they carried themselves, the way they always seemed to be wary of everything around them—and their chosen field of study. “It’s a little late for you to be wandering about, isn’t it?”

Dessauer nodded. “I have business to conduct.”

Warnstedt gave the sorcerer a skeptical look. “At this time? Come no—”

Professor Warnstedt’s pajamas inflated and turned bright crimson as blood squirted from the through the buttoned-up seem of his night shirt. Both Cleo and Wednesday heard his chest cracking and turned to watch him crumple to the ground, his eyes vacant, the last unspoken word still hanging upon up lips.

“Holy shit!” Cleo shook as she screamed, her voice echoing in the curved corridor. “You killed him!”

Wednesday stared at the door, unsure of what to do. Professor Warnstedt had died right in front of her, and the way he’d gone—it was obvious neither of them did the deed—

Cleopatra turned around and turned a hard stare upon the chief black magician. “You son of a bitch!” The surprise she’d felt vanished, replaced by anger. As Wednesday turned to face Dessauer, Cleo mumbled, “We were right—”

In the blink of her eyes Wednesday face was slick with Cleo’s blood as her friend’s head vaporized, popping like an overfilled balloon. There were no bone fragments, no swatches of skin, no gelatinous lumps of brain peppering Wednesday’s face—just blood, lot of Cleo’s blood, pumping fresh from her open arteries as her heart had yet to realize it was suppose to stop.

Wednesday didn’t scream or jump or cry. From the moment Professor Dessauer had arrived, to now, the moment of her friend’s death, only fifteen seconds had passed. The Professor and Cleo dead; Wednesday started at Professor Dessauer’s impassive face, his cold stare, and knew she only had seconds to live—

The door to the coven slammed shut and the locks engaged. Wednesday darted at Dessauer, her body able to accelerate quickly through a combination of quick, silent spell casting. She covered the ground between them in under a second, running into him with enough force to stagger him and throw off his concentration.

Wednesday continued around the curving corridor. Her spell was already wearing off, and she could feel her speed slowing to a normal run. She neared the second entrance: the door slammed closed and she heard the locks set as she ran past. There was a high probability she was going to die, but before that happened she wanted to lock up the coven so Dessauer couldn’t get inside and . . .

He’d going to kill everyone, she thought as she neared the opposite entrance. He’ll get inside and do what he did to Warnstedt and Cleo, then he’d gonna go and kill

She ran into Dessauer, who appeared before her. She was more shocked that he’d appeared as he did, rather than he’d been able to teleport . . .

As soon as the girl bounced back from his body, Dessauer backhanding her hard and driving her to the floor. “Little bitch!” he hissed. “What the hell do you think you are going to do to me? Hum?” He needed to get inside the tower, but he’d first kill this little pest—

That was when everything went dark.

It wasn’t just darkness that enveloped Dessauer: there was pain, stabbing pain across his head, upon his face, in his eyes . . . He screamed as his eyes burned and his eyelids felt as if they were melting away from his face.

Wednesday slowly propped herself on one knee before standing. She knew Dessauer couldn’t see her: she’d used a bit of transformation magic on him that she hadn’t been certain would work, but as there was nothing to loose, she threw the spell and hoped for the best.

Her emotions finally burst through. “You killed them!” She leaned towards him, her voice rising. “You killed the professor; you killed Cleo.” Tears burst from her eyes and poured down her cheeks. “I liked Cleo!” She pulled back her right arm and screamed. “Bastard!”

She wiped her hand around in a circle three times, then brought her hands together, clapped hands twice, and spread them apart. Dust flew around Dessauer: from the walls, from the floor, and in a vortex from the high ceiling. It came together around his body and began spinning into a cylinder. The dust moved fast, hissing as it move rapidly through the air.

The cylinder contracted around Dessauer. He began screaming, blindly flaying about trying to touch something, or trying to stop what was happening to him. Skin began peeling away from his face and hand, and the dust took on a rusty hue as it mixed with his blood.

Wednesday twisted her right hand, and the cylinder contracted until it was only a little wider than Dessauer’s body. His clothes were shredded, pieces flying about the confines of the tower corridor. Soon the dust was a dim red and his clothes were no long being ejected into the air. The professor’s screams grew quieter and, after a minute, stopped.

When Dessauer no longer made any sounds Wednesday dropped the spell. The small particles of stone she’d used to flay Dessauer dropped to the floor as a fine red solid mist. The professor’s flayed body remained standing for a few seconds, then his naked form crumpled and lay unmoving.

Wednesday didn’t see Dessauer; she wasn’t focusing on anything. She saw Cleo’s head vanishing, felt her sticky blood washing over her, heard rather than saw what was left of her collapse . . . She felt number for the murderer laying before her, nothing at all.

She began shaking all over and started crying. Delayed reaction stress would not be denied, and chose the moment to shake Wednesday to her core, to turn her into a quivering mass—

No.”

Still crying, Wednesday willed herself to stop shaking. Dessauer was down, he was dead, but there were others: Ram and Raque. Dessauer was the head of Mórrígan, she thought as she steadied herself, and Ram watches over Åsgårdsreia . . .

There weren’t time for shakes. With Professor Warnstedt dead, there wasn’t anyone close by to go to for help.

There was only her.

 

And believe me when I say, Wednesday does her part to save to school.  After all, she’s teaching there, isn’t she?  So she must have.  Also, now you know why being able to do spells on the fly is important to her.  After all, when people leave dirt and some rock dust around, someone with a bit of imagination and a lot of desperation can put it to good use.

Where does this leave me?

Right here, I believe.

Right here, I believe.

I will most definitely finish this chapter this week.  I might even start the next as well, before heading back to The Burg.  Then on to Part Five–

And even more witchy stuff.  Why do you think it’s called The Witching Hours?