Well, so much for writing short scenes. I know I mentioned at some point that I wasn’t certain if scenes were going to be big from here on out, but as of this morning I’ve added a little over fourteen hundred words to the scene I started yesterday, and I only stopped because I need to get this post out, return home, and get ready to head south into Maryland to see someone about makeup. Yeah, this girl has her priorities.
But it’s been fun writing, even if I didn’t finish the scene, because I got to set up a confrontation–one that, so far, hasn’t involved magic flying about. Though if there were, it would be an even shorter battle than the one Erywin, Annie, and Kerry had–pretty much along the lines of a “Bored now!” flip of the hand and done.
When we last left off the bonfires were burning, Beltane was starting, and it appears there are some pissed off witches wanting answers . . .
All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
Wednesday was confronted a few moments latter by the two women she expected to meet first: Jessica Kishna and Madeline Palmescoff, the leaders of Ceridwen and Boldeuwedd Covens. Maddie was particularly incensed by what she’d just witnessed. “What the hell was that?”
“That?” Wednesday chuckled. “That was two students lighting our bonfires—and probably being congratulated by Holoč right now for bringing more honor to Cernunnos.”
Jessica looked over her shoulder and found the Cernunnos coven leader speaking with this students, then turned back to the small Spellmistress. “I thought Morgado was a lock for tonight.”
“The same with Shamsi—” Maddie shook her head. “She was certain she would light.”
“If there’s one thing your student should remember, ladies—” Erywin walked up behind her fellow coven leaders, with Deana close behind. “—It’s that no one should sit back and assume they’re a lock for anything around here.” She, too, glanced over her shoulder to witness the happiness Holoč was expressing, then turned back. “Particularly when it comes to those two.”
Erywin: being a downer since just about always. Though she is right: these meddlesome A Levels can be a pain it the butt when it come to magic for other kids, ’cause they just seem to . . . get it.
Which brings up the matter of how they did get it:
“I’m impressed by the skill they showed this evening.” Deanna pulled her jacket around her, feeling the chill creeping in from the ocean. She addressed Wednesday. “Do you know how long they’ve worked on that spell?”
Wednesday nodded slowly, though she seemed almost embarrassed to say. “Since this last weekend.”
Holoč had joined the group just in time to hear this latest news, and he was rendered nearly as dumbfounded as the other four women. “That’s what they say.”
“You mean the weekend before?” From her own experience of having them in transformation class, Jessica knew they were outstanding witches, but this revelation was nothing short of mind boggling. “You don’t normally teach that spell until near the end of their B Levels, and it usually takes until the middle of their C Levels to control it as they did tonight.”
Maddie nodded. “You must have taught it to them weeks ago in Advanced Spells—”
“I did no such thing, Maddie. I didn’t show them the Fireball spell at all.” She grinned. “They picked it up on their own.”
And, it turns out, they started on a Friday afternoon–down in Spell Cell #2, where they did things that got them into Advanced Spells, then off to the Firing Range–a place you haven’t seen yet, but the name says it all–on Saturday to work on range and accuracy, and on Sunday morning Wednesday certified them as legit. This brings out another comment from a coven leader:
“Sunday we went back to the Firing Range, I set up a test, and they passed it with flying colors.” Wednesday made the tablet she’d been carrying in her hand up to that point vanish to whatever hammerspace she’d originally kept it stored. “And, as they were they only A Levels I personally certified on that spell, it fell to them to light the fires.”
Maddie scoffed. “Leave it to the Wonder Twins to steal the other student’s thunder.”
“I wasn’t aware it was considering stealing someone else’s thunder if you were damn good at spell crafting.” Helena strolled up to the group and looked around. “I though it meant they were damn good at what they did, and that was what we pushed on these kids every day.” She gave Maddie a lop-sided grin. “Or are you just pissed that someone from your coven didn’t get the chance to bask in the glory of Rhiannon Fettle’s memory?”
Maddie bristled at the mention of her coven’s and school’s founder, and the implication that she was upset about one of her own coven members not being selected to light the fires. “That’s not what I meant, Helena—”
“It’s okay, Maddie.” She grinned. “I’m just screwing with you.”
Erywin tapped Helena’s arm. “Which you do so well.” She turned to Maddie. “I need to speak with you; non-coven business.”
Now, to say that none of the coven leaders never get upset with gifted students in other covens would be a bit of a lie because, while there aren’t any Coven Cups or anything like that, the coven leaders do love those bragging rights that come from having the best of the best in their towers. And getting to light the Beltane bonfires is one of those rights, because the pictures of the students who did the lighting gets put up in the Great Hall and in the respective student towers. In a way it’s kind of a big deal, and Cernunnos bagged all the honors this night.
But what does Erywin want to speak about with Maddie? Well . . .
The walk to the small pavilion was made in silence; once under the cover Erywin threw up a blocking spell to keep out the light breeze and chilly air. “There, much better.”
“I agree.” Maddie stuffed her hands into the pockets of her jacket. “What’s on your mind?”
“On hers? Not a great deal.” Helena stepped out of the shadow pocket she made for herself after januting away from where they’d spoken last. “Me, however—I’ve a few things I need to say.”
If there was one thing that Maddie didn’t enjoy, it was any discussion held with the Head Sorceress. She’d always considered Helena a spooky and somewhat gruesome individual, and surprising someone by stepping out of a next of shadows to start a conversation didn’t set her mind to ease.
However, as it was apparent she wasn’t going to just walk away from this talk easily, so she felt it was better to let Helena have her say and move on. “Well, then, what is it you want to say?”
Helena didn’t waste time getting to the point. “You’re to stop sending information to the Guardians. No more. As of right now.”
Maddie turned her head slightly to the right. “What? What are you saying?”
“You’re sending information to the Guardians about the students.” She took a step towards the coven leader. “You sent Gabriel information on Annie and Kerry.”
“I don’t know—”
Helena moved until she was only centimeters from Maddie. “You need to stop bullshitting me right this instance before I lose my temper and do something that will require an extended convalescence on your part.” She squinted at Maddie in the darkness. “I don’t make accusations unless I know what I’m talking about—and I know what I’m talking about.”
There you have it: Helena is calling out the Guardian mole. And when she tells you that you best stop lying to her or she’s going to put you in hospital, she’s doing that only as a professional courtesy to another instructor, because you can bet there are a lot of people who never got that same courtesy. And if she’d zap a student hard enough on the first day of class to put them in the hospital because she was trying to get a reaction, imaging what she’d do when she’s pissed off?
And pissed off she is . . .
Helena backed away and began speaking without giving Maddie an opportunity to respond. “Gabriel visited at Imbolc, wanting information on Annie and Kerry. I got him alone and he came right out and admitted he was getting information fed to him from someone inside the school. Now, I know a little about setting up moles . . .” She pointed to Erywin. “I had her feeding information to me right before The Scouring because there were a few of us in the Guardians who suspected something wasn’t right, both inside our organization and here at the school. And we were right: in the aftermath of what happened here, we managed to find seven Deconstructors inside the Guardians.
“But she was feeling me information about the administration and instructors, and once things we back to normal here, she stopped.” Helena turned on Maddie. “You, on the other hand, decided to spy on students. You decided to spy on children.”
For the first time Maddie appeared uncomfortable. “Helena, I—”
“You gave the Guardians confidential information on children. You told them things about Annie and Kerry that should have remained inside these walls.”
Helena runs it all down in that she doesn’t think any of the top admins would stooge out info because they’re too used to keeping secrets, and when it comes to Coven Leaders, Erywin is out because of Helena, Holoč is too much of a daddy to his coven kids, and really likes Annie and Kerry, Jessica is concerned about making the school a good place and wouldn’t talk about the students, and Deanna’s a Seer and you learn that Guardians really don’t like Seers.
Which leaves . . .
“Which brings us to you—” She stopped pacing and focused on Maddie. “Fought and injured in The Scouring, and hates Deconstructors with a passion because of what happened to her husband . . .” Helena shook her head as Maddie cast her gaze downward. “You make it too easy.”
“Still means nothing.” Maddie looked up and hardened her face. “Everything you’ve said is conjecture and speculation. Not a single bit of hard evidence—”
Helena smiled at Maddie. “Wonder Twins.”
Maddie’s head shook as if she’d been slapped. “What?”
“You’ve been using that expression since about a week or so after the Day of the Dead Attack. And you only use it when you’re referring to them in an amusing or, like tonight, condescending manner.” Helena began moving towards Maddie slowly. “Funny thing is, I’ve been out in San Francisco a bit the last few months, and one or two people use the same phrase when speaking about them.” She stopped about half an arm’s length from the coven leader. “First rule of being a good confidential informant: never give away your tells, ‘cause someone on the other end will pick up on them eventually and run them back to you.”
Maybe Helena’s just pulling that last one out of her ass–or maybe she’s falling back on years of experience having her own CIs in the field, and knows a thing or two about what keeps you save and what screws you up.
And it appears Maddie just fell into the later category . . .
Maddie quickly looked away for a moment, then turned back to Helena with a worried look across her face. “I—”
“You informed on eleven and twelve year old witches.” Helena’s jaw clenched as she hissed out her words. “You got those kids dragged out on an operation, Maddie. You put them on the line; you put them in danger.” Helena slammed a knuckle into Maddie’s chest. “You could have gotten them killed.” She jabbed Maddie once more. “And trust me, dear, if one of both of those kids had died, I’d be taking a significant chuck out of your arse right now.” She thrust a finger in Erywin’s direction. “Erywin was on that same line, and if she’d have gotten killed, this conversation would have ended five minutes ago.” Helena twisted her head to one side as she went nose-to-nose with Maddie. “Have I made it clear that I’m not happy with your shite, or is there a need for further elaboration?”
Is there a need for further elaboration? Well, I’m not finished with the scene, so the answer there is yes. But names have been called, and my Mistress of All Things Dark won’t let up until she’s satisfied that she’s gotten her way.
There’s not much more to write on this–yeah, I’ve said that before–and then it’s on to Annie and Kerry doing the Mile High Club–
Get your minds out of the gutter. Mine is a different kind of club.