The Business of Meaning

Between glances at the TV during Childhood’s End, I manage to finish up the second scene of Chapter Twenty-Three.  It’s just a little longer than the first scene, but it still clocks in at just under fifteen hundred words, so I’m not burning up the keyboards as of yet getting the information out in this new act.

Though with so much more to go, it may help this act go faster, right?

Though with so much more to go, it may help this act go faster, right?

Now we left off with Deanna making fun of the headmistress for getting a letter from Mama Malibey being angry for setting her son right on the facts of life, and we start here with the headmistress having none of that shit . . .

 

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

Mathilde wasn’t interested in discussing her dealing with disgruntled Normal parents, particularly those incensed enough to send off letter that the headmistress was duty bound to read. “I hope you reminded Kerry to keep conversations like the one Annie and he had last year confidential from now on?”

The seer didn’t bother keeping her grin hidden. “He’s been reminded.”

“Good.” The headmistress tapped her fingers against the top of her desk. “Now, would you kindly tell me why you are here? Because my meeting time with Paris grows closer . . .”

Mimicking her headmistress Coraline tapped her nails against her tablet’s screen. “Given what happened last night with Kerry, we’d like to have Erywin help us.”

“So have her help you.” Mathilde tapped the monitor screen, her eyes scanning something she brought up. “It’s not like you haven’t before asked her to assist with a situation concerning Kiralova and/or Malibey.”

“Headmistress—” Denna’s tone turned somber as she set her weight against the right arm of her chair. “We’re asking for her official assistance.”

Mathilde continued staring at her monitor, but her mind wasn’t concerned with what was displayed before her. After a few seconds of silence she slowly slid around in her chair until she was facing her guest. She cleared her throat. “Are you saying there’s a LGBTAIQ issue with Kerry?”

 

And there you have it:  the magic acronym gets uttered, and before you know it you can ask Erywin–the school’s official counselor for all matters LGBTAIQ–to come in and help out.  There was a line I was thinking of including where the reader would discover that protocols are in place to prevent instructors from jumping to conclusion and dragging people into counselling where it’s not needed, and the reader would also discover that Mathilde and Erywin played a part in writing those protocols in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

As it’s been pointed out from time-to-time, The Foundation wasn’t always a bastion of social progressiveness, and some of that had to do with pulling in students from all over the world and letting them work out their differences in a Thunderdome sort of way.  We already know there was racial intolerance–until said people beat up or killed a few students:  I’m looking at you, Helena–and though it’s not been written yet, Erywin was beaten badly after coming out in 1980.

That’s the problem with these Victorian-era dudes buying up property from a bunch of lady witches who didn’t care who you were sleeping with, and it took a long time to get the school back to where if you couldn’t learn to be racially, religiously, and socially tolerance, you could keep that shit to yourself and try not to get outed as a bigot, or get the hell out.

But before Erywin can come in, Mathilde has to determine if she’s really needed–

 

“There may be; we’re unsure.” Coraline gave a weak shrug. “That’s why we are asking for Erywin’s help in the matter.”

Deanna nodded. “We wouldn’t ask if we didn’t believe an issue existed.”

“All right, then.” Mathilde pointed at the door to her office and set a locking spell in place. “Tell me what you have.”

Coraline motioned at Deanna, letting her take the lead in the conversation. “There are two main issues. First is this dream Kerry had last night; it’s one of latest of these recurring dreams he’s had with a girl who shows up and speaks with him. In the one last night there was an interesting symbolism that took place—”

Mathilde grew attentive. “Yes?”

“The girl waved at him—and I believe he waved back.”

“What is the importance?”

“If someone waves at you, it’s an indication they seek your advice, caring, and support. When you, in your dream, wave back, it’s an indication you seek recognition, acknowledgment, or attention from that same person.”

“I see.” Mathilde began lightly tugging on her right earlobe, an indication she was considering information and formulating an answer.

“I told all that to Annie and Kerry last night—” Deanna slowly crossed her legs. “There was one bit of information I didn’t tell them.”

“What?”

“If you are waving to another person, the action can signify one’s need to develop closer friendship ties—” The seer rested her fist against her mouth for a moment before going on. “—or to become more like the person to whom you are waving.”

The headmistress looked to her right. “The girl.”

“Yes.”

 

“There was one bit of information I didn’t tell them.”  Thank you, Deanna.  I know you did that because you probably didn’t want Kerry freaking out.  And I know she kept it from him because when I was going off my notes for the same thing, I kept it from you!

Deanna and I, it's as if we think alike!

Deanna and I, it’s as if we think alike!

Also:  there in my notes you get to see what Deanna and Coraline were saying to each other.  Some had already guessed that’s what was ask, and now we’re getting Coraline telling the headmistress you guys were right:

 

Coraline calm tone entered the conversation. “There’s something else as well—”

Mathilde’s sigh was loud as she turned back to ladies in her office. “What?”

“Deanna asked me to look at Kerry’s aura, then asked him if he absolutely did not know the identity of the girl in his dream—something he’s told us several time he doesn’t know.”

“Did he lie?”

“Yes, and no.”

A frown slowly formed upon Mathilde’s face. “And that means?”

“His aura went into flux. It seems to indicate that he was telling the truth about not knowing her identity—”

Deanna finished the doctor’s statement. “—While at the same time it also indicated that if he doesn’t know her exact identity, it’s possible he’s aware of what she represents.”

Mathilde went back to tugging on her ear lob as she stared off into the far right corner of her office. She considered the information given her, as well as her options, and arrived at her decision after twenty seconds. “All right, I’ll contact Erywin and let her know she should meet with you and that you’ll fill her in on the particulars.”

Coraline nodded. “Thank you, Headmistress.”

“Any particular time you’d like to meet?”

Coraline and Denna exchanged glances, with Deanna making the decision. “Nineteen, in the second floor library.”

“Very well.” As Mathilde tapped her monitor she began to chuckle in a low voice.

Deanna leaned forward. “Is there something the matter?”

“No, just—” Mathilde typed something out. “I know exactly what she’s going to say when you give her Kerry Malibey’s name—”

 

So there you go:  people got suspensions, and they’re gonna ask Erywin for help.  And giving the headmistress’ chuckling, I’m sure the meeting will be . . . interesting.

So . . . onward?

Where else am I gonna go?

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 . . .

Along the Shore of The Foundation Pond

Thursdays are never a good writing night for me.  I was tired, for one, and actually napped sometime around six-thirty.  Then Singin’ in the Rain came on, and though I’ve seen that movie maybe a dozen times, I can’t turn away from its greatness.  The lateness of the hour plus being sort of out of it night resulted in just under six hundred words being written–

Ah, but it’s a great set up.

The title of this post refers to something said a long time ago by Nadine when she first started to tutor Kerry for the Ostara Performance.  She downloaded sheet music from their Internet, and mentioned that if it had been created, The Foundation had access.  Her comment at the time was, “Welcome to the Pond,” meaning here was the place where one could find everything The Foundation had their fingers upon.

It’s also a secretive little place as well, a much smaller location within the gigantic ocean that is the world as a whole.  That’s because The Foundation has things that no one else does, and for now they’re keeping it pretty much too themselves.  Like, you know, being able to heal even the worst injuries over night–like what’s happened to a certain kid from Cardiff a few times during the course of this story, or the repairs made to the broken arm and cracked skull that his girlfriend received some time back.

Just imagine what the world would be like if everyone had that.

"Should I release one of our cures this week, or let the conspiracy theorists keep at it a few years more?"

“Should I release one of our cures this week, or let the conspiracy theorists keep at it a few years more?”

Here is what I wrote about Salem’s particular place in that pond.  Witches have gathered, but they’re not standing around a cauldron; it’s more like they’re relaxing comfortably while waiting for someone . . .

 

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

Mathilde closed the door to the First Floor Library in the Instructor’s Residence, gently pushing it against the frame until she heard the latch snap closed. She turned back to the other women assembled in the room with her. “I’m glad we didn’t have many students to meet tonight.” She sighed as she retook her seat. “It’s been a long day.”

“Graduation Day is always long.” Wednesday stretched her legs out before her and pushed her arms over her head. “It’s bad enough we have to get all dressed up—”

“Something you should do more often.” Jessica removed her heels and flexed her toes. “You’re so adorable when you look like an adult.”

Wednesday began laughing with a couple of the other instructors in the room. Besides being the youngest instructor in the room, she was also the one who still looked the most like a student. “Yeah, well, how about you kiss my ass, Jess? The kids don’t seem to mind, and neither does Isis. Besides, I ain’t an ex-model like you—”

“I can show you how to become one.”

“Maybe tomorrow.” She adjusted here skirt and crossed here legs. “I want to finish this up and take a long, hot, soaking bath.”

Erywin, who was sitting to Wednesday’s right, nodded. “Same here. I want to get undressed and into my night clothes and spend the rest of the evening snuggling.”

Sitting all the way to the left of the collected group of women, Helena chuckled. “I know how my time will be spent tonight.”

“Isn’t it spent that way most evenings?” Erywin turned to her right, where Mathilde sat. “It is a bit disappointing to have only four students tonight. I had hoped for a slightly larger selection this year.”

“Better four great students than eight mediocre ones.” Mathilde checked her smart phone display, which remained black. “At least we have two out of the way—”

“And two to go.” Jessica ran a long nail across the tip of her nose. “Saved the best for last, no?”

Wednesday nodded. “I’d say so.”

The screen of Mathilde’s mobile came on and she checked the message. “They’re here.” She turned to the women assembled upon her left. “Before we start, I have to ask: are you certain this is what we want?”

Erywin nodded. “We’ve discussed this for four days: it’s decided.”

“It has.” Wednesday folder her hands into her lap. “You know what I think.”

“It’s what I want to do as well.” Ramona Chai slipped her feet back into her low heels. “I don’t see a problem.”

Mathilde nodded. “Jessica? Vicky?”

The Mistress of Transformation leaned forward so she could see the headmistress better. “You know what I’ve said all along.”

Vicky shrugged and nodded once. “As well as with me. And there’s the other matter—”

“Yes, I know, Vicky.” Mathilde nodded back. “We’ll get to that tonight as well.” She eyed the last silent person in the room. “Helena? No opinion?”

“Only the same one I’ve given you for the last week.” She leaned against the right arm of her over-sized chair and crossed her legs. “It’s the same one I’d give you now.” Helena pointed at the phone near the headmistress’ right hand. “Now that you know the answer, go on and bring them in.”

Mathilde picked up the phone and held it close. “Send them up.” She set the phone aside as she stood and moved toward the door to great the new guests.

 

Astute people will recognize that not all these women are coven leaders–there are only two, in fact–and there are a two people here who seem a little out of place, namely Ramona and Vicky.  And why is Helena here?  Is she holding down the Guardian fort?  In this last moment of producing this post I suddenly realized:  I should actually model this library, because I want to see the scene–

And this won’t be the last time we visit this location.

Out of the Fire and Into the Flames

Before getting into any details, allow me to show you where the novel is after this first day of the new year.  For one, I have reached this milestone for the act:

More than three-quarters of the way to six figures.

More than three-quarters of the way to six figures.

With the nearly thousand words added to this new scene last night, the act just made it over the seventy-nine thousand mark, and I should be close to eighty by tonight.  I’m going to say that being close, or at, eight-five thousand words by the end of this chapter isn’t out of the question, and the four remaining chapters would pretty much guaranty I edge over one hundred thousand words for this part before the final words are typed.

Which brings me to “Where am I with the novel?”

Right here.

Right here.

Three hundred and eight-six thousand and change.  And I’m ready for a change as well.  Trust me, sitting down to crank out what it pretty much five eighty thousand word novels has been an experience.

But what sort of experience are we having at my school?  Glad you asked.

It’s Beltane, or more importantly, it’s eleven PM on 30 April, and the school is getting ready to light the big bonfires.  And come to find out, a certain headmistress really gets into this celebration:

 

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

Of the festivals held at school, there was no secret that Mathilde enjoyed Beltane the most. Some people said it was because it marked the point where there was only a month of classes left, and she was eager to returned to her husband and daughters. Others said that she loved that it represented the coming of Summer, and even if the weather wasn’t cooperating this year, it wouldn’t be long before she could enjoy throwing on a tank top, shorts, and sandals, and go for a walk and be alone with her thoughts.

The real reason was far more vain, however. Blodeuwedd Cover was responsible for setting up the Beltane festival, and when she was a student and member of Blodeuwedd, she always threw herself into event planning. Within the coven itself the celebration was known as the “Headmistress’ Festival,” as the school’s first headmistress, Rhiannon Fettle, was also the founder of Blodeuwedd, and she helped establish many of the school’s traditions current traditions.

Three hundred and twenty-eight years later—and for the tenth time since becoming headmistress—Mathilde ascended the elevated podium that allowed her to see every member of the school—the students and faculty—and begin the festival with perhaps the most important of all the Beltane traditions. “Good evening, everyone.” She scanned the group of students standing before her and smiled. “Beltane is a wonderful time: it marks the beginning of summer, and it marks the beginning of the final month of classes. It is a day indicative of change and renewal—and this represents is the same for out students. Our E Levels graduate in a few weeks, and will head out for their year of Life Experience Travels. All others will return home, leaving another level behind with the anticipation of returning for a new one in a few months.

“But that change begins here, this evening. As it has been for over three hundred years, in the hour before midnight on the last day of April, the two huge bonfires erected here in Selena’s Meadow are set ablaze. One represents what we are leaving behind; the other represents the changes that wait for us ahead. These will burn until midnight tomorrow night, and will serve as a focal point for our celebrations.

“As Beltane represents approaching change, it has been the school’s tradition to select two students to light the bonfires using magic. And as this celebration also represents improvement of our selves, we chose two students who did not come to us proficient in magic, but who have come to Salem as new students, and have spent the months and years developing and improving their skills.”

She turned around and nodded at the instructor standing near the podium stairs. “I will now have Wednesday Douglas come forward and announce whom she has selected for the honor of starting our Beltane celebration.”

 

In another story–well, okay, novel–I wrote about Salem, you discover that Mathilde was actually suggested to run the school by one of the instructors, that person being Jessica.  You have to wonder if she, or any other student, ever sat in their room at night and thought, “I wonder if I’ll ever run this place?  I’d love that.”  And with Mathilde coming from the same coven as the first headmistress, you could see how presiding over this event makes her feel especially proud.

Now Wends is getting up there, and she has two students picked out to light the fires.  And . . . any guess who they are?  Any one?

 

Wednesday joined Mathilde upon the podium and stepped into the speaking field. “Thank you, Headmistress.” She turned to face the gathered masses. “As the Spellmistress here, I am responsible for finding the school’s youngest witches who not only know the Fireball spell, but have the ability to control it with expertise and dexterity. And I have found those students . . .”

A tablet appeared before her, floating within arm’s length. She grabbed it and pulled up the information waiting. “This year, the honor of lighting the Beltane bonfires fall to Annie Kirilova and Kerry Malibey, both A Levels of Cernunnos Cover.” Wednesday pointed towards the crowd and motioned to two marked out areas about fifteen meters from the bonfire locations. “Children, will you take your positions and do us the pleasure of lighting the Beltane fires.”

 

Now, wait:  they’re going to throw fireballs?  We know Annie can do that with Cold Fire, but Kerry?  Nope, not in his repertoire.  Then again, Wednesday did say Fireball spell, which isn’t Cold Fire.  So . . .

 

Annie and Kerry stepped out of the crowd and headed for the partitioned areas. People noticed right away that they brought their normal habit by Kerry going to the left area, and Annie going to the right, but Wednesday and a few other instructors knew that they did this to keep their dominate hands away from the others.

As if on cue they held their hands before them and pretended to shape a sphere. A few seconds later a tiny dot of energy appeared in the middle and began growing. In less that ten seconds both children kept suspended before them a ball of glowing orange fire about a third of a meter across, which they then turned over and held hovering above the palm of their dominate hands.

They held the fireballs over their heads for a few moments as each fireball grew a little, both in size and brightness. They held them overhead, then turned their heads towards each other before drawing back and throwing them in the direction of the tremendous piles of wood. The fireballs arced through the air, growing larger as they neared their target: by the time their struck they were more than a meter in diameter. They splashed across the surface and burrowed into each pile, setting them alight and bringing them to full burn in just under twenty seconds.

Wednesday didn’t hear the scattered applauds from the students: she kept her eyes on her two special students, watching them carefully. They met each other and hugged before milling with everyone else—many of whom gave them wide berth as the disappeared into the fold. She turned and headed down the podium stairs to the meadow, where she knew she was about to be accosted by the coven leaders, and a few other instructors, wanting to know how and where Salem’s most well-known A Levels learned a Fireball spell . . .

 

Yeah, wait:  only nine days before they were in a throw-down with bad guys and gals, and not was Fireball was cast.  So what gives?  Were they holding out?  Perhaps they didn’t want to burn the place down and just kept quiet?  Or . . . was something else involved?

I guess if I write the rest of the scene tonight, you’ll find out tomorrow.

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

Tally Time, We Know and Worry

It was Dinner with Writing time last night, and I managed to do both and have a wonderful time.  I stuck with pasta and ice tea, and then, after getting out of the Internet, got down to writing.  Almost a thousand words of writing.  And I also got complemented on my look, so it’s a plus there.

Here is the Lady Writer in her natural habitate, feeling good after hearing good things said to her.

Here is the Lady Writer in her natural habitat, feeling good after hearing good things said to her.

The end of the scene Tally arrived.  We learn a little more about what happened, and what’s going on to get things up and running.  We know it’s almost another forty-five minutes before the ass kicking can commence, though for all we know, it’s already happening.

And we learn what Isis thinks was happening with the attack:

 

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

It was difficult for Isis to keep her unease hidden. “It’s difficult to get an exact number because f how the breach occurred, but after looking at the data, I’d say maybe forty to fifty Abominations, and perhaps thirty Deconstructors.”

“That’s quite a few.”

“Not as many as could have come thought.” She paused to take a short breath and slow her thoughts. “The modification Wednesday made to the enchantment did exactly what it was suppose to do: it concentrated more energy at the strike points and reinforced the screen at that point. They threw close to eight hundred Abominations at each of the three strike points—without that enhancement in place, they might have blasted a hole right through the screens.”

Mathilde’s breath caught in the back of her throat for just a second. To think there could be more here . . . “Where exactly did they strike?”

“South, central, and north ends of the school. They breached at the south and central points, but never made it through the north—don’t know why yet.” Isis paused for a moment, checking something on a monitor. “I think their plan was to blast through the screens and weaken them enough that they could send hundreds of Abominations through, along with a few hundred Deconstructors. With it being almost nightfall, and our detection and comm grids down, we’d have been at a huge disadvantage.” She tossed her head to one side. “They might have actually been able to overwhelm us.”

 

When it comes to taking down Salem, it looks like your round up your nasties and bum rush the stage, so to speak.  But Wednesday, good witch that she is, came up with a solution and got it into place.  That’s how you get things done; that’s how you keep people safe.

However, Isis still has a couple of concerns . . .

 

Isis cleared her throat. “I may have a situation, Headmistress.”

“Oh?” She didn’t care for the sound of this.

“Two of the missing fliers are A Levels: Emmalynne Neilson and Kerry Malibey—”

The Headmistress twitched the moment the last name was mentioned. “The one who is, um, seeing the Kirilova girl?”

Isis tried to keep from smiling when the Headmistress said “seeing”, because if what Wednesday said was true, there was a bit more than seeing going on. “The same.”

“I’d heard Vicky allowed those two to fly.”

“Apparently they both checked out on Espinozas at the beginning of the year, and Vicky felt they could do the job. They were the ones who called in the first breach and they handled that nicely.”

“What is the situation that has you worried?” Mathilde didn’t want to discuss this matter any longer than necessary.

“With them being A Levels, and from Normal families, we can’t tell their parents what happened to them in the instance—” Isis covered her mouth for a few seconds. “Well, you know.”

“Yes, I do.” The Headmistress gave the matter some thought. “We may need to work with the memory specialists in the Guardians.”

 

This is the first time we hear about not being able to tell the Normal parents about what their kids are really doing–and we discover that their a “memory specialists” working for one of The Foundation’s enforcement and intelligent groups.  Obviate, my ass:  for all we know they’ll give both families a new kid and make them think they were theirs all along.  Or maybe they’ll just be happy with a few cats . . .

 

“If Kerry is dead, it will be necessary to tell Annie Kirilova; she’ll need to know.” Isis lightly placed her index fingers across her lips. “Headmistress, her student file is Yellow Flagged.”

Nearly five seconds passed before Mathilde realized what her Director of Security was not only saying, but asking. “Isis, are you requesting a Maginul intervention if it’s necessary to tell Kirilova her boyfriend is dead?”

Isis stared hard into the video monitor. “Headmistress, the way Wednesday and the other instructors talk about them, he’s more than a boyfriend to her.” She shook her head. “If I have to deal with a grieving sorceress who already knows death spells, I’d like to know she’s not going to lose her shit and try killing everyone in the immediate vicinity.”

Mathilde said nothing as she held her chin against her right fist. “All right. If you should need to speak with Kirilova, consult with Coraline and determine your best course of action. If you need to administer Maginul, tell her I’ve given authorization.”

“Thank you—” Isis nodded slowly as she looked down. “Headmistress.”

 

It’s the first time you see two new things:  Yellow Flagged, and Maginul.  Yellow Flagged you might be able to figure out, since there have been clues spread around the story about Annie, and what this might mean–and, no, it has nothing to do with her daddy racing.  And Maginul appears to be something medicinal, since “Coraline” and “administer” are stated in the same sentence.  Poor Annie:  this is what comes of being a scary little girl.

And how does it finish?

 

“You’re welcome. And Isis?”

The director’s head snapped back up. “Yes?”

“You’re doing a fabulous job. The situation may have been far worse had you not spent as much time as you have preparing our defenses.”

Isis didn’t feel like she was doing a fabulous job, but Mathilde was right: the current situation could have ended up far more worse. “Thank you, Headmistress.”

“Please notify me the moment the detection and communication grids are back on line.”

“Will do.”

“One last thing—” Mathilde leaned closer to her monitor. “When they are up, would you pass along a message to the Ground and Air Assault groups?”

What does she want to say? Isis was curious, because the Headmistress wasn’t one for giving inspiring speeches. “I will.”

Her voice dropped into a lower, ominous tone. “I want those bastards removed from our grounds. I want them sorry they attacked Salem.”

“Don’t worry, Headmistress.” Isis smirked back, imagining the coming response to this order. “You’ll get that—and more.”

 

The magical version of “You Deconstructors, get off my lawn!” gets thrown out, and you understand Headmistress Mathilde is taking this break-in badly, personally even.  And since there’s a lot more of the book ahead, you can probably guess what happens to the bastards on the grounds.

Where are we in this mess?

Somewhere around here, I believe.

Somewhere around here, I believe.

Four scenes in this chapter, and two more chapters in Part Seven, before moving on to Part Eight and the end of Act Two.  It’s all coming together nicely–

Someone asked if they were going to get to see an Abomination.  Since I have a scene coming up named Abomination, it’s pretty much a certainty that I’ve given you my version of Chekhov’s gun, and if it isn’t going to be seen, then why talk about them so much?  Maybe I just like foreshadowing?

Or maybe I’m going to do something . . . bad.

Bwah, hahahaha!