Springtime For Kerry: Working the Crazy Stage

Quite, slow morning today.  No coffee shops, just breakfast at the apartment in my leggings and cami because Seasons 1 and 2 of The Walking Dead are running today, and I’m all about snarking the shit out of the show even though I’ve seen all the episodes a dozen times.  I also love that the pilot, Days Gone Bye, has one of the best cold openings ever, and I love those cold openings.

After that cold opening, though–

You're fair game for all the snark, Rick.

You’re fair game for all the snark, Rick.

Before The Walking Snark took hold I was off to the writing races–literally.  Did a little over three hundred words last night, and then another seven hundred this morning, so all is good in the world.  Well, for me anyway–

I gotta wonder about Kerry, though.

I gotta wonder about Kerry, though.

As you’re about to see, Kerry’s not having an easy time of things.  Not because people are trying to wreck him–oh, no.  That’s been chilled out, remember?  No, there are other reasons, and it’s likely nothing you’ve though of up to this point . . .

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

The Ostara races were held on what the racers called The Blue Dozen: twelve laps of the Blue Line, twelve kilometers a lap, one hundred and forty-four kilometers a heat. Though one race was nearly half the length of the Kadahdin race, it wasn’t considered as difficult because the course was more level and not nearly as technical. Racers pointed out, however, that since The Blue Dozen was run three times by each race during the day, the distance covered by those thirty-six laps was one hundred and thirty-two kilometers more than Kadahdin, but this didn’t keep detractors from countering that since there were rests between the heats, it didn’t have the same difficulty as flying three hundred consecutive laps.

Kerry flew through the Start/Finish line and began his thirtieth lap of the day. He recalled one of those detractors, a C Level from his coven, stating the same thing, that as long as everyone got to rest between heats, The Blue Dozen couldn’t be that hard. This was one of the few times when Kerry wanted to take someone who didn’t race, strap them on to the back of his broom, and take them through one heat at race speed and see if they’d continue adhering to that particular belief.

Cernunnos ran the first heat of the day against second place Mórrígan. The round robin rules were like those used during Samhain: the first place team sat out the first stage while the other four covens squared off against each other in two separate heats. This would lead to the second stage, where the first place team, Åsgårdsreia, would race the coven with the worst finish in the first stage, the first and third finishers from the first stage would race each other, and the team that finished second in the first stage would sit out so they could race in the third stage against the coven with the best finish in the second stage.

 

This is how all that plays out:

Got my score card, don't you know?

Got my score card, don’t you know?

This is the same format I set up for the Samhain races, and just like those holiday races, the Ostara races are intense–even more so, actually.  Why is that?  Because as already stated, the end of the season is near–only four weeks away–and the point spots are close.  Everyone wants those points, but even more, everyone wants the bragging rights that come at the end of the season–and that means people are gonna run like hell.

 

Cernunnos and Mórrígan took the green light and by the time they were through Meadow Climb and into Pentagram Pass that it became obvious both teams were setting a fast pace. It was only once he was through Observatory Turn and heading on to Skyway that Kerry realized just how fast a pace the team were setting. No one had broken away from the pack, nor had it separated into two and three-flier groups—everyone was in a big bunch separated by about a half second, and heading into Helter Skelter at close to three hundred kilometers an hour. Kerry held his breath, negotiated the turn, and once through safely turned on the speed into Residence.

So did everyone else.

Both covens held the pack through all twelve laps. Race Control was constantly issuing warnings about spacing and watching one’s surroundings; the lead changed hands a couple of times a lap, and on Lap 8 there were five different leaders. At least three times a lap Kerry felt a “big one”—a racer term for a huge wreck—was imminent, but he must not have been the only one to have that particular feeling, as it seemed everyone checked themselves before creating a dangerous situation.

When the checkers finally fell Nadine was across the line first, Kerry was .014 seconds behind her, and Penny was .012 seconds behind him. The next two were equally as close: Emma finished in fourth .017 seconds behind Penny, and Alex was .013 seconds behind her. The last flier to point, Mórrígan’s Argus Pelham, finished in sixth .021 seconds behind Alex, but only .003 seconds ahead of

Manco, making that the closest finish of the race. The final four racers finished a third of a second behind sixth and all within a second of each other.

By the time Kerry stood upon the podium he felt as if he’d run all one hundred and forty-four kilometers on foot. Everyone who came off the course looked that way, even the people who finished out of the points. Back in their ready room all the Cernunnos fliers were happy but the stress of the race was etched upon everyone’s face. At least they’d have a chance to rest up before the second stage—

When the first stage numbers came in Kerry was shocked. Even though they’d managed two podium positions over Mórrígan, their competitor’s first and fourth place points set them as the second best finisher of the stage, allowing them to sit out stage one. Ceridwen came in last, setting them up to race Åsgårdsreia in the next stage, and Blodeuwedd finished first by virtue of a first and place finish against Ceridwen, setting them up to race third place Cernunnos.

And since the Blodeuwedd/Cernunnos heat was considered the “undercard” of the second stage, they raced first.

 

Just to keep you from doing the math, the interval between first and sixth places in the above race is .08 seconds. or eight-tenths of a second.  Six people all zooming through the last kilometer or so right on top of each other, and crossing the line less than a second apart.  That’s a lot of heavy duty racing, and if you run in a pack all the time, it keeps you wound up constantly because you don’t ever get a chance to relax, not even for a second or two.  When I used to do online computer racing I did a few like that at Talladega and Daytona, and after an hour of zooming along with a bunch of other people all around for an hour or so, you get tired.

And after the second heat of the first stage, it’s time to get to it against after a little rest–

 

Blodeuwedd wasn’t known as a strong race team, but the moment the course went green they raced Cernunnos as hard as Mórrígan did in the first stage. Not only was Blodeuwedd racing Cernunnos hard, but the Cernunnos fliers were racing each other hard. Penny, Alex, and Kerry sat out in front of the pack from Lap 3 to the end, and they traded the lead repeatedly throughout the race. Their racing was so intense that the final outcome was resolved until the three racers were within a few hundred meters of the finish, when Penny drafted Kerry hard to get alongside him, and Alex drafted them to move around both fliers. Alex won, with Penny .01 seconds behind her and Kerry .012 seconds behind Penny. It was not only the closest finish of the year for the podium, but it was the first time since 1981 that Cernunnos took the top three positions. Manco rounded out the field by finishing sixth, achieving the last point for the coven.

At the finish of the second stage Cernunnos was the clear winner, which meant in the third stage they would race against the coven that sat out the second stage—Mórrígan. Though the third stage race would be his last of the day, Kerry was not looking forward to another twelve laps of hard racing.

 

Kerry’s been through two stages of hard racing, and now it’s time to get on to the third stage and good ‘ol Mórrígan once again.  If I were a writer, I’d say that’s some kind of foreshadowing–

Selling the Sorcery

I’ll tell you, Sundays are never a good day.  I was busy all morning, busy all afternoon, and by the time you get to writing you feel dead–exceptionally dead.  Sort of like the Resident Evil movie that was on last night:  brain dead but still moving, albeit slowly.

However, I did think more on the idea I posted yesterday about the Mórrígan and Åsgårdsreia students–mostly the girls, the boys would probably feel foolish–squaring off during the Samhain Ball in the great hall.  Since everyone’s in costume, you’ll have your various interpretations of the Goddess of War on one side of the room, and your Valkyries and shield maidens on the other, and it’ll be like:

Come at me, Bro!

Come at me, Bro!

I am no Bro.

I am no Bro!

Yeah, I gotta write that.  Even if it’s only a short scene, and it’s taking place outside the Hall, and they aren’t really using swords, but being how they’re all witches and gifted students and technogeek mad scientists, they can probably come up with something else.

Part of the business was due to an article I was writing.  There was tons of research I needed to do, and at one point I was getting tired hunting down the correct papers I needed to write.  Still managed to get out five hundred words, and I’m not finished.  I’ll do my best to get that wrapped up by this weekend, though no promises.

That meant when it came time to actually write last night, I did about five hundred and fifty words.  Not a good total, but I’ll take it.  As I’ve mentioned before, some times you feel the words, some times you don’t, and perhaps it was a combination of being tired and feeling distracted that put me off my count.  Not worried, not worried:  I’ll bounce back tonight, hit a thousand, and start my, “Helena is a Bad Girl” section of the scene.  It’s gonna be great.

One of the things I like doing is setting my story in the current world while indicating that most, if not all, of our pop culture references do exist.  You’re in a school full of witches and super powered kids, with a mad scientist thrown in here and there, and when you have a room full of eleven-year-olds, who isn’t expecting to hear something asked based upon what they may have read or heard in the Normal World:

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“This leaves sorcery. Whereas the other disciplines can used against another person, sorcery is designed to work against a person, whether directly or indirectly. You all encountered what Professor Sladen eloquently called the ‘Hell Shawl’ yesterday—” Helena grinned, satisfied by the looks on the faces of her students. “An example of my handwork.

“Sorcery is all about dominating people, controlling them, hurting them . . . killing them. You can do it directly, or you can do it with cursed items and various chemical product—” She heard a few students say, “Potions,” and almost mentioned that it was a good thing Erywin wasn’t there to scold them, for if there was anything she truly hated, it was hearing her lovely formulistic magic called potions.

“There’s also two lesser branches to sorcery: necromancy and daemonmancy. Adric will instruct you in the ways of dealing with spirits and the recently deceased, but even he won’t touch necromancy—we teach you that together. As far as daemonmancy is concerned . . . I only teach that on a need to know basis.” She half turned to her right. “I doubt if many of you will need to know.”

Helena was ready for her experiment. She had every student’s attention, had then following her every word—and now it was time to do what she’d planed for most of the week. All she needed was for someone . . .

“Is there like a main spell used for killing people?”

She didn’t know who asked the question, but Helena didn’t care. Every year someone asks that, and I have to answer. She turned her attention back to her students. This year I’ll have help . . . “There is more than ‘a main spell’. I can think of a half-dozen different ways to kill someone with little more—” She raised her right hand and snapped her fingers. “Than that.”

With that out of the way. . . “Miss Kirilova.” Annie’s eyes snapped towards her. “What is the name of the discipline set aside for the various means of killing within sorcery?”

That Helena:  she doesn’t care to keep hearing about all this fantasy crap, does she?

Lastly, I was upset–well, just a little–that Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany didn’t win a Best Actress Golden Globe award last night.  You play seven characters, some whom interact with each other in scenes that take the better part of a day to film, and people just don’t give you props.  I’ve fallen in love with Orphan Black, mostly for the acting and writing, and the life Tatiana brings to each member of the Clone Club.

The hell with them.  Lets get out on the floor and move to our groove.  Go, little psycho bitch, go!

And this is the part of the post where we dance with the tail!

Crowing to Start

The morning started out well and good today.  Panera RavenHop out of bed, get ready, drive to the local Panera for breakfast . . . but as I’m walking up to the entrance this  guy is waiting for me.  The one in the middle, mind you, not the buddy on the higher wire who flew in while I was snapping the picture.  Naw, the raven in the middle, he/she is watching me, and as soon as I got even with them–caw, caw, caw!  Dude just went off.

Being a sociable gal, I stopped and said, “You bringing me a message from The Imp?”  Caw, caw!  “No?  Mommy of Dragons?”  Caw, caw . . . caw, caw, caw!  Maybe yes, maybe no.  I didn’t get the full message, but I do know I wasn’t being asked if I lift.

For the record I find ravens fascinating.  Like this one here, she’s obviously a big fan of Morrigan Ravenmy work in progress because she knows one of the covens is named after the Mórrígan, which is a good name for a coven of witches, as The Mórrígan  was a goddess of battle, strife, and sovereignty, and I know the young ladies–and a few of the guys who sneaked in there–are all so happy about that.

For the record the Åsgårdsreia Coven was named so in honor of the Valkyries and the Wild Hunt.  This means the witches of Åsgårdsreia, most of whom were and are women, take pride in their shieldmaiden status, and give it to the Mórrígan witches as good as they get.  No word yet if anyone has fought an Åsgårdsreia witch and told them, “Can’t hurt me, bro,” only to be told, “I am no bro.”  Should work that into the story.

Speaking of my current story, there are a few teachers who are Mórrígan legacies.  The most famous at the moment is the one whom I’m writing about at the moment, Helena Lovecraft, the Head Sorceress.  She’s the sort of person who’s taken the whole Goddess of Battle and Strife line right to the limit, and then a little beyond that.  She shows up to teach class in jeans tucked into black boots, a simple pull over, and a leather jacket, because she can.  It’s how she rolls.  And right off the bat, she likes to get the class set straight:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Taking one step back from the front row, her stacked boot heels clicking against the wood floor, the professor finally spoke. “I’m Helena Lovecraft, and I’m a sorceress.” She took hold of the lapels of her jacket. “I’m a damn good sorceress, and that’s not just a brag—that’s over twenty years of working for The Foundation as one outside Salem.” Her black eyes shifted back and forth, as if she expected someone to challenge her. “You may address me as Professor Lovecraft, or Professor. I’m certain, however, that by the end of this month most of you will have another name or two you’ll call me once you’re out of earshot.”

Unlike the other instructors Professor Lovecraft didn’t pace back and forth, but stayed in one spot as she spoke in an accent that Annie though sounded vaguely Australian. “Before we get into today’s lecture, let me get a few thing out of the way. First off, I’m from New Zealand—hence the accent. I’m of mixed ethnicity: my father is a Caucasian Kiwi by way of his family in England, and my mother is indigenous Māori. My mother was the second Māori to attend Salem: my grandmother was the first. Both were sorceresses; my grandmother was the Head Sorceress here for a few years.” She watched the students to see if anyone was going to speak, and saw the boy from the other day appearing like he wanted to speak. “You . . .” She gave him a slight grin: she knew his name, but wanted to appear as if she were searching her memory. “Kerry. You have something you want to ask?”

His face reddened as he realized he’d been called upon, but he recovered quickly. “Does your mother and grandmother have tattooing? And do you?”

Perceptive boy. “We all do. My grandmother has the traditional woman’s ta moko, but my mother and I follow a bit less traditional path.”

It was left to Lisa to blurt out the question that more than a few children had on their minds. “Wait—you have tats?”

As Helena turned to address Lisa her eyes narrowed. “I don’t have ‘tats’; there isn’t a bloody pink unicorn inked on my arse. Mine is ta moko, traditional Māori markings that are unique to me. Unlike tattooing, they were carved into my skin using uhi—chisels to you—so my skin has grooves.” She shook her head. “No, this goes well beyond the tattooing you see in the west. An expert in ta moko could look at my markings and know my life story in an instant.”

She didn’t wait for more questions on the subject. “Second: I am not related to Vivian Lovecraft, the founder of Åsgårdsreia Coven and co-founder of this school. My father discovered that particular Lovecraft family came from Northern England, and my father’s family is from near Bath. There is no blood relationship, so don’t ask.

“Third, I am also not related to another family Lovecraft known to these part, the American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Again, his family came from a completely different part of England that my father’s family. While I would love to claim that ‘Lovecraft Country’ is a part of my heritage, I’m afraid the answer is no. I’ll have to settle for the reality in which I live.

“And lastly . . . While I am from New Zealand, I know nothing of the Lord of the Rings. I know there are books; I know there are movies; I know the movies were filmed in my country. Beyond that, I know absolutely shite about the story, or any of the people who were there making the movie. I don’t know Gandalf, I don’t know Legolas, I don’t know any dwarfs or bloody hobbits. Evil magical rings, though, I do know: they’re rather easy to make. If you want one, come see me. And remember what people say about getting what you wish for . . .”

 

How many teachers are telling their students to come see them for an evil rings?  Mine do, because they figure if you’re dumb enough to want one, you deserve whatever curse she throws into the damn thing.  She’s already made the Hell Shawl (soon to be found on Etsy, $19,95, you pay shipping and subsequent petrification), so cursed items are a snap.

Though I can tell you, by the end of this scene there’ll be some cursing–

And Helena won’t be the one doing it.