The Altered Path

It’s been an interesting time last night and this morning.  It seems that I’m too tired to write at night, but on these weekends I’m getting a lot of writing done–although “a lot” is probably a misnomer, as I’ve only written eight hundred words in ninety minutes.  Not exactly Stephen King-level wordsmithing, but I suppose if I kept it up like he does for an eight to ten hour day, that would work out to almost sixteen hundred words every three hours, and around five thousand in ten hours.

Not bad, if I should say so myself.

But this was a tough scene to write, because Annie’s suppose to say things to Kerry, and say them in a rather nice way that doesn’t make her come off like a Bulgarian Bitch.  She needs to tell him something important–one of my astute readers has already figured out what–but she has to do it in a good way, and as we’ve already seen, Annie can be fairly blunt at times.  Except when it comes to her Ginger Hair Boy, then she sort of pulls back and tries not to let him have it too hard, while at the same time saying, “No, Kerry:  bad Kerry.”

But first off:  did Kerry deliberately kill that Deconstructor in Selena’s Meadow back when he thought he was safe from being eating by one of Cthulhu’s Minions?  And how did Annie figure out that she things Kerry smoked the dude on purpose?  The answer is pretty easy, actually . . .

 

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

Kerry continued staring at his hand being held by Annie. He finally responded in a whisper much like hers. “How did you find out?”

Annie pressed her cheek against his for a moment before pulling back. “I figured it out.”

“When?”

“The Monday following the attack, during Flight Class.”

Kerry slowly turned so he was looking at Annie. “How? How did you figure it out?”

“Remember how I was waiting for you to come out of the locker room before the daily briefing?”

“I remember.” That was one of the few moments about that class that Kerry did remember completely. He’d felt so strange changing into his flight gear, which a few days earlier had been covered in blood and brains, and given that he was given a lot of space to as he changed made him wonder how the class would go for him. “It was a strange day.”

“It was indeed. You didn’t know it at the time, but Emma walked out right before you did. Everyone in the room knew what had happened to her, but only about half stopped what they were doing and watched her take her seat. It wasn’t like when you came out—everyone stopped talking. I don’t think you realized how quiet the Ready Room became right then, because you had pulled into yourself.”

He nodded. “Yeah, I was trying not to pay attention.”

“I know. You weren’t looking at anyone as we headed for our seats—but I was. I caught the few stares focused on you, could sense what they were thinking. I also saw Vicky . . .” Annie paused, taking a moment to breathe and think. “When Emma came out, Vicky was looking at her like she was happy that she’d survived her ordeal and has returned to fly another day.

“But when she looked at you— I caught her expression for just a second, but it was enough. She looked like she knew something about you, like there was a secret she was holding, and she was afraid someone else would find it out.” Annie lightly ran her fingertips over the back of Kerry’s hand. “She was sad and worried all at once—and the moment she realized I’d seen her, she shifted her expression back over to what she’d shown when Emma walked out.

“While we were sitting in the briefing, I remembered a moment we’d had back in the hospital after Emma wrecked you racing. Coraline said to Vicky, ‘I know you checked the flight data,’ and I realized she would have done the same thing with your broom the moment it was recovered from Selena’s Meadow. She would have wanted to see where you’d traveled, where you hid after you nearly crashed, she’d want to know everything. The fact she had the information that got us here proves she did.”

She inched closer to Kerry, pressing against his arm as she comforted him. “I know she would have examined your path when you tried to return to The Diamond, and when you tried getting away from the Abomination . . . and right before you ran into the Deconstructor. She would have noticed if you’d actually flew straight into him, or if you’d changed your path towards him . . .” Annie rested her head against his shoulder. “She would have seen that you altered your path, that you flew towards him, that you chose to hit him.” She kissed him on the cheek. “That’s how Vicky knew, and that’s how I knew.”

 

Annie is bright, and she’s observant.  She’s also aware of the emotional baggage that her soul mate carries around, and she tries not to add to that if at all possible.  The fact that she thought she’d figured all this out six months before and had kept it to herself shows she didn’t want to burden him with more troubles.  She probably would have said something had he started freaking out with night terrors and the like, though it’s likely that Coraline and a few others knew the truth along with Vicky–if that truth did indeed exist.

And did it?

 

Silence filled the clearing as Kerry removed his hand from Annie’s and slid his arm around her shoulders. “I saw the guy pretty well, because I’d looked over my left should to see what was happening behind me, and when I turned back there he was—standing with blue flame in his hand.” He pulled her closer. “I knew one of the other two people was Jessica; I was using low light on my goggles and I could tell by her height and complexion. I didn’t know who the other person was: one guy had cold fire, and he was getting ready to use it on Jessica and whoever she was helping.

“If I’d kept flying straight I’d have flown between them. I didn’t know if I’d been hit; it wouldn’t matter, since I could have flown over them. I did know that he was going to hit and burn them, and I knew what cold fire would do, so he was going to kill them. And I couldn’t let that happen, so . . .” He twisted and reached across his body so he could hug Annie with his other arm. “I shifted my path to the left a little. I didn’t think I was going to hit him in the head, though: I thought I’d hit him in the shoulders or chest, something like that.”

Even with her face buried against his flight jacket Kerry could feel Annie smile before chuckling. “What is it?”

 

I’ll get to the “What is it?” in a moment, but there’s the truth:  Kerry saw the guy, knew one of the people in his firing line was Jessica, and he altered his path to intercept, as any other flight jock might say.  Tough choice to make, and there weren’t a lot of options open.  And there’s another fact that plays out here:  If Kerry had tried to run and leave that scene of death and destruction behind, would he have lived?  Or would he have had a Morte spell thrown at him as he tried to jet away into the darkness?  Even I can’t say, because I wrote the scene the way it was written, and there’s no need for speculation.  So it is written; so it is done.

Now, what was Annie chuckling about?  Well, not what you think.  She gets there, but only after laying out her own truths:

 

“I’ll tell you in a minute.” Annie relaxed and rested against Kerry. “You knew early on that I was a witch, but I never mentioned that I wanted to be a sorceress because I didn’t want to reveal too much, or confuse you.” She turned her head, rubbing her cheek against his. “And as you’ve likely guessed, I want to be a Guardian. I thought about the possibility when I was teaching myself Exsanguination, and once we were asked to do the field operation, I wanted it to be more than a possibility: I wanted to make it real.

“I know what it means to be a sorceress, and when I started learning a Morte spell I understood that one day it might be necessary to use it—and if so, I couldn’t hesitate using it, because my life could depend upon its use.

“To be a sorceress means to use spells against other people: we learned that the first day of Sorcery class. It means you may find it necessary to use Morte spells against Deconstructors, Berserkers, and those people who turn on The Foundation and go rogue. It means you have to stop them, any way you can.” She pressed her head against his shoulder. “It means if it becomes necessary to kill someone, you have to do so without hesitation.”

 

Ambitious Annie, almost a teenager and knowing what she wants to do with her life.  It probably also answers the question of whether or not she’d have gone on the field operation had Kerry said no.  Then again, we don’t know if she would have said yes had Kerry said no–and one day I’ll actually give the answer to that question.

One day.

But Annie’s not finished:  now she gets to the most important part of her conversation with Kerry–

 

Annie twisted away from Kerry and sat directly in front of him, cross-legged. “During our battle on the Link Bridge you hesitated. I know you know this, because you’ve already said you’ve thought about the battle, and you understand your actions. I don’t know if you hesitated because you were unsure if you could craft the Electrify spell properly, or if you were, as you say, trying to do too many things at the same time.” She reached out and took Kerry’s hands, the one he’d kept sitting in his lap, and set them against her legs. “Or, lastly, it could be you hesitated because you knew you’d need to take his life.”

“Kerry—Erywin was down, I was down, it was you and the Deconstructor. You know what they’re like, you know what they’ll do to us: they’ll kill us without hesitation. Which is what he tried to do to you, and would have done to Erywin and me as well. My love—” She gave his hands a squeeze. “If I had been knocked out instead of stunned, you would be dead. You’d be dead, Erywin and I would probably be dead. Even if we hadn’t died, I’d have had to deal with loosing you, and that’s something I don’t wish to contemplate.

“This is why I asked if you want to be a good sorceress, because if you want to be good, you can’t ever hesitate like that again. Because the time will likely come again when your life, and perhaps the lives of others, will depend on whether you’re good or not.”

There it is:  she lets him know that he could have died and maybe gotten them killed at the same time.  You know, last year at this time, Kerry was probably sitting down for dinner, maybe having a favorite dish because it was his eleventh birthday, and while he was munching on his cake he was thinking that he was gonna see Annie in his dreams and she’d have a birthday kiss for him.  Quiet a difference from sitting in a tiny clearing hearing about how he almost died and maybe, just maybe, almost caused the deaths of the people with him.  Not exactly the sort of birthday goodness one would expect.

What is the end result of this conversation?  This:

 

Annie moved close enough that they were nearly sitting in each other’s laps. “I don’t expect you to walk my path; I know there are things you want to do that I won’t, and there are things I want to do that you won’t. But . . . you have the abilities of a great sorceress, and it would be a shame to let your skills go to waste.” She leaned closer. “Do you want to be a good sorceress?” She closed in, brushing her lips against his cheek as she whispered. “Do you want to be my Dark Witch?”

 

Annie is pressing home her question, and doing it as nicely and sweetly and . . . well, in a way that should leave Kerry with no misconceptions that she’s angry–it’s pretty much the opposite.

And he gives his answer–

 

Kerry sat there breathing slowly, his eyes half closed, his hands locked tightly around Annie’s as he considered her questions. He didn’t wait long to give his answer. “Yes.”

She didn’t pull back from her place so close to him. “Are you certain?”

“Yes, I’m certain.” He swallowed hard and sighed twice before continuing. “I screwed up; I know I did. I hesitated because I wasn’t certain I could craft Electrify, and . . .” He shook his head. “I screwed up: I won’t do it again.”

Annie had to extinguish all her doubts, however. “It wasn’t because you were afraid to kill him?”

“No. I knew he’d kill us: I knew they would all try.” He turned his head just enough so he could see Annie so close to him. “I can do this, Sweetie. I can.”

“I know you can.” Annie kissed him on the cheek. ‘Do you know what I was laughing about before?”

“No, what?”

“The Day of the Dead, you left from here and ended up risking your life fighting a monster you’d never seen before, all to save someone’s life. And ten minutes after that, having been chased all around the school—tired, frightened, scared you’d never see me again—you made a quick decision to save two more people.  You did so without hesitation, and you did so at the risk of your own life again.”  She touched his arm. “You thought like a Guardian, my love.”

 

And that is the truth:  Kerry did risk his life to save several people that day, and in both instances he could have been killed.  Hell, he faced getting killed three times that day, and while he might not have thought his last action was going to put him in the hospital, he didn’t know for certain.  He acted in each instance without giving it a lot of thought.

Now . . . just so it’s addressed, one could argue Annie used her feminine wiles to manipulate Kerry into choosing to do something that he’s really mature or emotionally stable enough to handle.  After all, Annie was pretty touchy-feely with the, “Do you wanna be my Dark Witch?” question, and it’s easy to see how someone could say, “She totally used his hormones against him!”  It’s possible, but I could argue that Annie’s not that manipulative, and she’s never tried that on Kerry before.  Or maybe she has, but she’s been a lot more passive-aggressive about it, and this is the first time she’s known she’d have to push him hard to get him to do something without making it look like she was trying to get him to do something . . .

Maybe Annie's a Overly Attached Magical Girlfriend?  Do we want to find out?

Maybe Annie’s an Overly Attached Magical Girlfriend.  Do we want to find out?

I do know the answer to this question, too, because I know what Annie’s thinking.  But here’s where the pain comes in:  that particular question will never get answered at any point during their attendance at Salem.  But it is answered–

When both of them are in their thirties.

That’s not that long to wait, is it?

The Question Asked

Almost nine in the morning as I write this, but it’s been a somewhat productive morning–“somewhat” in the sense if I’d stay off social media I’d truly get a lot more done, that’s for certain.  But I’ve been busy nonetheless on the story, writing almost eight hundred word last night and close to six hundred this morning.  I also spent part of last night going over something that happens to Annie and Kerry between their C and D Levels, and, if I ever get around to that story, will take up nearly the first third of what will be another huge novel.  In terms of massive, life-changing shit happening to the kids, the C and D Levels are the years.  Those two years will really flip their world–

But we’re still in their A Levels, and no world flipping is underway–yet.

Annie and Kerry were visiting the Day of the Dead Hidey Hole, and talking about the choices Kerry made that day.  But you know Annie:  she’s always got something cooking in the back of her head, particularly when it comes to her Soul Mate.  What does she have in mind?  Well . . . it has to do with magic.

 

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

Annie wasn’t concerned with their past, present, and future sleeping arrangements; there was something else that had kept her concerned for most of the day. “I want to ask you something.”

Kerry patted her hand. “Go ahead.”

“Do you want to be a good sorceress?”

His grip around Annie’s hand relaxed. “What do you mean?”

She gazed at then entwined hands. “I mean, do you want to be a good sorceress? You know the spells, you know how to use dark energy . . .” She lifted her gaze and met his. “Why didn’t you kill that Deconstructor when you had the chance?”

Anna, Annie--pretty much the same kid, right?  That means in a few years this question takes on a whole new meaning . . .

Anna, Annie–pretty much the same kid, right? That means in a few years this question takes on a whole new meaning . . .

You have to admit, her asking is a bit of a buzzkill, because this is Serious Annie coming out, and we know that Serious Annie is . . . serious.  Asking a question like this usually means she’s leading up to something else . . .

 

Kerry pulled his hands back and set them in his lap. “I was doing too many things. I was trying to put energy into the shields while at the same time I was getting ready to attack him—”

“Separation of spell energy.” Annie nodded slowly. “Yes, that’s difficult. But I’ve seen you do it before—when we were testing in our lab.”

He cleared his throat. “I know. It’s just . . .” He shrugged without meeting Annie’s stare. “I didn’t handle the situation well.”

Annie didn’t respond for a few seconds, letting the silence build within the tiny, private clearing. “If you’d crafted all the dark energy you could into that Air Hammer—and I know you used it, because I felt it—if you’d done that before you threw it at him, you would have killed him. Or, at the least, damaged him enough that Erywin or I could have done that.” She lightly touched his arm. “You wouldn’t have needed to do anything to the shields then.”

 

Who needs a post-mortem when your girlfriend–or is that “Wife to Be” at this point?–is asking you things like “Why didn’t you kill him?”  Imagine the conversations at the dinner table in a few years:  “Darling, you really should have used more dark energy in that spell; you only managed to rip off one arm . . .”

But Annie is getting at something, and she’s trying to work into it easy.

 

“I know.”

“I know you do, love. I know you’ve probably went over that battle in your head several times, and each time you know you could have crafted an Air Hammer with enough dark energy to have killed that Deconstructor.” Her hand slid down his arm to his left hand; she slid her fingers under his palm and caressed his skin with her nails. “Do you want to be a good sorceress?” He stared at his hand over hers but said nothing. “If you do, I’ll show you everything I know and learn, including the Morte spells. You’ve come along with Electrify: if you’d used that you could have, at the least, stunned him as he did you.” She slipped her fingers up and around his hand, caressing the back. “You are aware he was trying to kill you?”

“Yes.”

“If you’d hit him first, that wouldn’t have happened.”

“I just . . .” He shrugged. “I wasn’t sure I could get it off that well.”

“I thought that might be the case, which is why you went with the Air Hammer: you know that and have it mastered.” She paused once more, for she was acutely aware that Kerry knew what was coming from her. “I don’t need to remind you what Morte spells do.”

“No.”

 

No, how could you not know what Morte spells do, considering the title means “death”?  And Kerry got to see one cast up close and personal, so he’s completely aware that his girlfriend will put down a bad guy in less time than it takes to figure out what you want off the menu at your local fast food joint.  It’s also interesting that Annie is saying that she’ll show Kerry everything she knows  and learns, which means she’s figuring that Helena isn’t going to teach him.  What does this mean?  Sorry, but Spoilers!  I can’t tell you more than what you’re already making up for yourself.

But this goes down a completely different rabbit hole, and it’s not going to be a comfortable trip . . .

 

“And you if want to learn all that I know there—as I learn it—you know what is required of you.”

Kerry lowered his head slightly and sighed long and slow. “Yes, I do.”

Annie tightened her grip around Kerry’s hand. “You have to be able to make quick decisions, nearly all involving life and death.” She leaned closer, her voice growing softer as if she didn’t want others to hear here. “I know you can do that, because you have. You’ve made them in order to save your life—” She drew centimeters closer and almost whispered the next few words. “You’ve done the same when it involved taking a life, too.”

Kerry continued staring at his hand being held by Annie. He finally responded in a whisper much like hers. “How did you find out?”

 

Whaaaa?  As far as we know there’s only been on time when Kerry killed someone, and that was an accident–

Wasn’t it?

Come back tomorrow, and you’ll find out.

Bawh, hahahaha!

Bawh, hahahaha!

Pudding and Pledges

I’m actually in a good place this morning, even though the last hour and a half saw me drifting in and out of sleep with a sore back.  And I almost didn’t get into writing last night, because I didn’t start until about eight-thirty, which meant I was dragging my feet to do some work.

I didn’t need worry, however, because once I started writing the scene came to me.  It also helped that I “talked it out” several times over the last couple of days, so I kinda knew what I wanted Annie and Kerry to say.  It can be a strange sort of way to do things, I know, but I’ve done this for years, going all the way back to 2012 when I used to do this driving back and forth to Indianapolis when I was working for the state of Indiana.  And I do it now walking to and from work.  So why stop a good thing?

It would seem Annie made it back to the Great Hall, and she gathered her things for a night stay in Bay #1 at the hospital, and there is this going on . . .

 

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

Kerry slowly strained the pudding inside his mouth and swallowed it little by little. When he was finished he shook his head before another spoonful headed his was. “You don’t have to feed me anymore.”

A wide grin spread across Annie’s face. “But there’s only like three more spoonfuls remaining.” She looked in the bowl sitting upon the adjustable table almost even with the propped up Kerry’s chest. “You haven’t had much to eat tonight; at least finish your desert.”

He knew there wasn’t much of a chance he was gonna talk Annie out of not giving him the rest of the chocolate pudding she requested. He’d been on an IV since being brought in, and all he’d managed earlier in the evening was a bowl of French onion soup—one which Annie fed to him because he was having trouble using his left hand due to his fractured wrist.

By the time the pudding arrived for a “late night snack,” Annie had changed into her blue flannel pajamas and matching bootie slippers, and left her robe across the foot of Bed #1, not needing it at the moment because the hospital was always kept at a comfortable temperature, and the bay curtain was closed and secured.

 

Annie:  Feeding her boyfriend pudding.  In some cultures that’s the same as being married, right?  I’m sure Trevor could find a citation . . .

And Kerry is enjoying the attention even if he is protesting lightly.  Just six months before he was hiding out in his room with his computer and having no contact with anyone, and now he’s on his fourth overnight stay after getting busted up or electrocuted–thanks, Mistress of All Things Dark!–and receiving all sorts of attention from a girl he met in a bookstore.  But Kerry wants to talk about something besides pudding, because he isn’t Carl Grimes.

 

“Maybe.” Kerry started to look away out of habit and stopped as he was still wearing a neck brace. Nurse Gretchen had come in about an hour before and exchanged the hard brace for a soft one, telling him he’d need to sleep with it on. This restricted his head moment, which prevented him from looking down or away, or nodding in agreement. “Professor Salomon came back to see me tonight.”

“When?” Annie was surprised to discover she’d returned after having spent most of the afternoon in the hospital while Kerry was being worked on.

“Not long after you guys left.” He took a deep breath as he stared straight ahead. “She wanted to know a few things.”

“Like?”

“Like if I was gonna retaliate against Lisa for what she did.” He tried to shake his head again and gave up. “I told her no; I said I was done with that.”

Annie nodded for him. “Good to hear.”

He paused for almost ten seconds. “She told me you got detention.”

“Why did she do that?” She’d planed to tell him before they turned in tonight, and Annie was slightly miffed that the professor had told Kerry.

“She told me you went after Lisa after you left the hospital—”

“She was saying mean things about you.”

“Yeah, the professor mentioned that.” He kept his eyes turned towards Annie. “She wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to go after Lisa for that.”

I can see her wanting to know Kerry’s intentions. “What did you tell her?”

“That it was between Lisa and you, and it wasn’t my business.” He chuckled when he realized he was about to shake his head. “She let me know that it was a good idea to let it die.”

 

There’s Vicky trying to prevent an all-out war because Lisa and her German minion, and the Lovey Dovey Couple.  Probably because she knows the school can’t tolerate that kind of fighting, but more likely due to her knowing Annie and Kerry could kill those two, and since they aren’t that skilled yet, more than likely would.  And you can’t have that.  No, you can’t.

He has other questions, too:

 

“No problem.” Kerry did nothing but stare lovingly at Annie. “Is that why you got detention?”

“Partially.” Annie looked down at Kerry’s broken wrist. “I left class without permission when I came here.”

“Why did you do that?”

“Because I was worried about you.” She moved as close as she could to him without disturbing his injured body. “You took a hard hit; I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“Yeah, but . . .” Kerry tried his best to look concerned. “I didn’t want you to get in trouble.”

“It’s okay—it’s only two hours this Saturday. I’ll do it while you’re working on your Ostara performance.”

“Sounds good.”

Annie didn’t want the comment about detention to end without an explanation. “Lisa was saying mean things about you. I didn’t handle it well.” She shook her head as she lightly rubbed his left forearm. “I wasn’t a good sorceress; I didn’t keep my wits about me.”

Kerry chuckled. “I was thinking that right before . . .” He thought about how to say the next part. “Before Emma and I almost crashed. It popped into my head right before I yelled at her to land.”

“You kept your wits about you.” For which I’m thankful . . .

 

Both kids seem to have the whole “Being a good sorceress” thought on their minds, and Kerry comes out with a confession.

 

“I’d rather I didn’t. Talk about not keeping your wits about you.” He settled back into his pillow. “I worry about you.”

Annie twisted her mouth. “Do you now.”

“Yeah.”

“Why?” She untwisted her mouth into a smile. “I can take care of myself, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

“I have noticed.”

“Then?”

Kerry saw no point in avoiding the truth. “Because I love you. Because you’re important to me. Because, right now, you’re my life. Because you’re my soul mate.” He rested his left hand upon here knee. “I see you in the morning, I see you at night. I’m with you eating, I’m with you walking, I’m with you in class. I’m with you when we’re relaxing and when we’re flying.” He sighed long and low. “You’re more important to me, in a lot of ways, than my parents. I mean, I’ve only heard from them four times, and two of those were about Yule. And I haven’t heard from them since coming back—”

“I know.” It saddened Annie to know that Kerry’s parents didn’t seem invested in his education or in his personal life while he was away from home.

“And my mother would have never fed me pudding.”

“Silly.” Annie playfully slapped at his arm. “I enjoyed feeding you pudding.”

 

He’s got those feelings of worrying about his sweetie because, well, it comes with the territory as he says later.  And we see a bit more of his family interactions, which are to say none.  He also likes Annie feeding him pudding, but he’s probably gonna need to get really busted up again to enjoy that.

This gets Annie to admit that she worries about him, too, because she loves him, and that she knows she’s guilty of getting nutty when someone says or does something to Kerry.  And she brings up a line that Vicky dropped on her, while at the same time comes up with a solution . . .

 

“No, we can’t.” She slowly ran a finger down the side of Kerry’s chest. “Otherwise it’ll be a long next five years for us both.”

Kerry finally managed a small nod. “I don’t want that—there’s gonna be way too much to do, and I’d rather spend the time with you as drama-free as possible.”

“As would I.” She held out her right hand palm up. “Give me your hand.”

“Like this?” He set his hand in hers.

“Yes.” She’d debated doing this, but thought it might not be a bad thing for them to share. “I want to offer you my pledge—”

“Like a promise?”

“Yes, like that.” She gently tightened her hand around his. “I love you, Kerry. You are my soul mate and the most important person in my life. I do worry about you, about your health, your troubles, your injuries, and those people who may want to do you harm. From this point on I promise that I will always temper my worry for you, and where you are concerned I will always keep my wits about me.”

Kerry closed his fingers around Annie’s hand before she could release. “I love you, Annie. You are my soul mate and you are the most important person in my life. I worry about you, about your health, your troubles, your injuries, and those foolish people who may want to do you harm. From this point on I promise that I will always temper my worry for you, and where you are concerned I will always keep my wits about me.”

Annie didn’t let go of Kerry’s hand, and he held on to hers as well as they lowered them into his lap. “You know what we did—” She tilted her head forward. “Don’t you?”

“That was a Sorceress’ Bargain, right?” He tried not to press his cast against her arm.

She nodded. “Yes. Your first.”

“Yeah, and with you, too.” He grinned. “We didn’t set a punishment if we break it.”

“It doesn’t matter—” She kissed his cheek. “We won’t.”

“I know we won’t.” He chuckled. “My Dark Witch doesn’t break her word.”

“Nor does my Dark Witch—” She rested her head against his shoulder. “And you’re getting good at those things I’m showing you.”

“It just takes time.” Kerry wanted to lean his head into Annie’s hair, but the brace prevented that from happening. “I’ll get there.”

 

That line, “Yeah, and with you, too,” is the indication that Kerry isn’t all that unfamiliar with a Sorceress’ Bargain, since he did something similar to Emma before cutting out at Yule.  After all this time of hanging with Annie he’d know what one is–she would have told him about the one did made with Helena–and probably explained it to him as well.  The fact that he knows you’re suppose to set a punishment says he knows a bit about them–and given that he did set a punishment when he was holding Emma’s hand and telling her what he wanted, it’s even more of an indication that he’s somewhat versed in them.  And that Emma wasn’t.

Now it is time for bed, and Chapter Thirty ends this way:

 

Annie slid off the bed and walked around the foot to the other side. “Should I get Nurse Gretchen for anything? You need something to sleep?”

“Naw, I’m good.” He shifted his eyes to the IV bag that the night nurse had replaced an hour before. “That’s handling the pain.”

“And she’s changed your catheter bag—” She began lowering his bed back. “You need a bedpan?”

“It’s been all liquids tonight. I should be all right.” He waited until the bed angle was right. “Stop there. I like that.”

“Okay.’ She leaned over Kerry and gave him a long, loving kiss on the lips. “I’ll see you in the morning, my love.”

“See you in the morning, Sweetie.” He kept smiling as she pulled the comforter up to his shoulders. “Good night, Annie. I love you.”

She kissed him once more. “Leka nosht, Kerry. I az te obicham.” She hopped into her own bed and snuggled under the covers before ordering the lights off. Annie rolled onto her left side and slipped a second pillow between her arms as she stared into the darkness, listening to his breathing slow as he sunk into unconsciousness. She so wanted to crawl into his bed and lie next to him, but she’d promised to stay in her own bed, and she didn’t want to end up responsible if she rolled onto his wrist and it ended up broken again—

In time she drifted off into her own dreams, imagining the pillow she was hugging was far more important to her . . .

 

That chapter is over, and Thirty-One waits tonight.  It’s Ostara, Kerry gets to play, and I don’t expect this to be a long chapter, more a look at festivities and how some people handle them.  I imagine I’ll get through the first scene tonight, and maybe even start on the second as well.  Depending on what I have to say, I could even finished up the new chapter by tomorrow–

Not to mention I so want to get to Chapter Thirty-Two.

Because I so want to get to Chapter Thirty-Two.

Because that’s where the fun really starts.

 

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/13:  2,134

NaNo Total Word Count:  26,519

Out of the Transept and Into the Vault

Part Seven, the longest day in this school’s history–and it seems like the longest one in my writing history, too–is finally over.  The Wednesday Night Panera “Dine and Write” went well, oh so well.  I managed to close out the scene, which in turned closed out the chapter, which in turn closed out the penultimate part of Act Two.  So long, you Day of the Dead.  It was nice knowing you.

There are moments in your life when you want to cheer that you had a job well done.  This is one of them.

There are moments in your life when you want to cheer that you had a job well done. This is one of them.

And what happened in the final part of the scene, where Deanna looked about ready to rip Annie a new one?  You can find out for yourself . . .

 

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

Deanna leaned against the railing. “In all the years you knew your Kerry, did you ever imagine that he would become a witch? Or a sorceress? Did you ever imagine that you’d both go to school together? That this Normal boy would become as good as spell crafting as you, a witch whose lived with magic all her life?”

Annie glanced at her soul mate and realized a truth that had eluded her until this moment. “No.”

“Did you even wonder if it were possible?”

She shook her head. “No.”

“And yet, here he is alongside you at all times: in your coven where you sleep, in the Dining Hall when you eat, on the grounds as you walk, and in your classes where you learn. Even in the air along side when you fly.” Annie blushed at the mention that she had been flying around the school grounds with him on the weekends. “And let’s not mention the Midnight Madness, where you both are so close as to be inseparable . . .

“Let me as your opinion on another matter: we don’t know for certain what happened yesterday when Kerry rescued Emma. We know he was hurt, and we know he manage to draw it away.” While her smile remained friendly, Deanna’s eyes bored down into Annie’s feelings. “Imagine that it was you instead of Emma. You know your Kerry: what would he have done?”

Once again Annie glanced down at him, only this time her view didn’t waver. She continued staring in his direction, watching him sit with his hands in his lap, staring straight ahead, watching students as they walked through the large expanse.

Deanna didn’t wait for Annie to answer, because she knew she was afraid to say what she knew. “He’d have fought that creature for as long as it would have taken to know you were safe.”

Annie looked away from Kerry and nodded slowly. “Yes.”

“He would have fought that Abomination—something he’d never seen before—until either it, or him, or both of them, were dead.” Deanna leaned towards Annie, her voice cold and merciless. “You know this.”

Annie said nothing, for the seer was right: she knew Kerry well enough from their years together that, as he’d stated not that long ago, that she was everything to him, the most important person in his world. If there was anyone he’d do everything in his power to protect, it was her.

She finally looked up and slightly raised her eyebrows. “Yes. I know this.”

 

Annie does know this, too, because if you believe her hype, she’s known Kerry most of her life.  There’s no guessing with her:  she’s really certain that, as Deanna suggests, Kerry probably would fight some Lovecraftian creature to the death to protect her.  Because he’s that way.

And then Deanna lays this on our spoiled little girl:

 

Deanna nodded. “Maybe he doesn’t remember your dreams; maybe he doesn’t remember all the time you’ve already spent together; maybe he doesn’t remember that he loved you before you came to Salem. But he is your Kerry, and he loves you now. Actually, you have something special . . .”

“What’s that?”

“He’s fallen in love with you again. You: a girl he didn’t have any idea existed before you met him a little over two months ago. Without knowing a thing about you, he stood by your side, he spent his nearly every waking moment—and not a fun unconscious moments—with you, and he’s pledged his love to you.” Deanna finally turned so she could see Kerry sitting below, waiting for Annie. He looked up and waved; Deanna waved back. “In almost every way, he is your soul mate.” She turned her head and smiled at Annie. “There are a lot of people here who are envious of you, young lady. The first time they hear him say he loves you, they’re going to become jealous.”

Annie was facing in Kerry’s direction as well. She didn’t take her eyes off him. “That’s their problem, not mine.”

Deanna chuckled. “As I would expect you to feel.” She lowered her gaze and her voice took on a consolatory tone. “I’m sorry I called you selfish.”

“Well—” Annie sighed softly. “I was being selfish.”

“You’re in love; you’re allowed to be selfish now and then.” She stepped back from the railing and motioned for Annie to follow. “Come on; I want to say hello.”

 

I ended the scene pretty much there because to include anything else was to drag it out.  We know the kids did a great job, we know Kerry’s hurt, we know Annie’s pretty much happy and will find herself growing happier.  So th-tha-tha-that’s all, folks!  No more Attack Day.

But wait!  There’s more!

Damn right, because then I jump into the first chapter of Part Eight and not only started the scene, but eighteen hundred words later, I finished it.  It was probably the best day I’ve had writing-wise in a while, and I was well into NaNo word count territory, because I ended the evening with about twenty-three hundred words total.  (I managed almost five hundred words on the nose finishing up the last scene.)

We’re over to The Witch House now, and Annie’s down in The Black Vault, the area where all the pretty dangerous material on sorcery is kept.  (And if you want to know:  yes, the really dangerous material on sorcery is keep in the Library in the under-lock-and-key-and-spells Special Section which is protected by wards, enchantments, and Mr. Parkman.)

 

Helena pointed to the empty spot on one of the bookshelves. “Because a volume is missing, and it’s a companion to the other three volumes by Gilaromey.” She shook her head. “I know The Vault inside and out, and have pretty much memories the locations of every volume here.” She laid her right index finger against her lips and cleared her throat. “That way if when I need to look something up, I don’t have to go searching.”

“Makes sense.” Annie also suspected that Helena had probably put The Vault together, and was the one to determine where every book was place.

“So . . .” Helena positioned herself next to the still-sitting student and kept her eyes locked on the volume in Annie’s lap. “If you’re reading Gilaromey, you’re reading up on shadow magic.”

Annie looked up, chuckling. “Nothing escapes you, Professor.”

“Gilaromey is the expert on shadow magic, and required reading for anyone whose interested in mastering that particular craft.” She reached down and checked the title on the spine. “You’ve skipped the theory and went right for the practical application.”

“I’ve read Matters of Light and Darkness.”

“Why am I not surprised?” Helena waved over another chair and positioned it next to Annie’s, though she was careful to keep about a meter between them. She sat and made herself comfortable before saying any more. “Shadow crafting is the most difficult thing for a sorceress to learn, much less master.”

Annie had heard this mentioned before, but was never given a reason for this belief. “Why is that?”

“You said you’ve read Light and Darkness, yeah?”

“Yes.”

“What does he say about darkness?”

“That most sorceresses deal only with what is real, and that darkness isn’t real—it only appears real to the senses.”

Helena nodded. “You got it. Darkness is nothing more than the absence of light, which means it only exists when light doesn’t. If magic—particularly sorcery—is meant to be the manipulation of what is real, then how can one control something that doesn’t actually exist?” She held out here arms and groaned as she stretched. “It’s a concept that a lot of great sorceress couldn’t ever get.”

 

Now we’re talking:  a couple of sorceresses getting down into some strange magic.  And they do chat about it, and it comes out that Annie’s sort of in awe of Helena’s life, since she learned a lot of sorcery when she was like seven and eight, which is something that happens when you mother and grandmother are pretty bad ass sorceresses as well.  But Helena’s laughing this off, because from where she’s sitting, her life wasn’t that amazing.  In fact, it had a lot of sucko moments:

 

She pushed herself deep into her chair, looked up and sighed. “Let me tell you a story: we had chickens on our estate because my mother had a thing about using fresh eggs in her cooking. While we had setting hens, we also had a fair number of clucks walking about that were meant for the dinner table.

“When my mother felt like chicken, she’d go out, point at a bird, and Blood Hammer that bastard. Boom! The head not only blew right off, but the hen usually bled out on the spot. Hey, better butchering through magic, right?

“When I turned eight I was told that I would take over the duties of Family Hen Killer, and I would need to learn the Blood Hammer spell. But rather than have my mother teach me, she handed me over to my grandmother for tutoring—only because she was the Queen of Morte. If there was killing to be done, Grandma was the one to handle the deed.

“I start learning Blood Hammer from her, and I sucked at it. Yeah, she had their version of our practice dummies, but after a few days of practice she started me out on chickens.” Helena started guffawing while remembering her trials and tribulations. “At first I don’t do shit to these birds, except cause a few to pass out because I’ve got too much blood to their little chicken brains and they can’t handle the stress.

 

“Honey, go out and use some magic to kill a couple of chickens.  We have company coming over!”  They should have gotten the house elf to do that . . . oh, wait:  wrong world.  And it’s sort of assumed that when Helena says “estate”, she’s not talking about some suburban bungalow:  she’s probably talking a very nice joint where she grew up.  With chickens.  Whose heads exploded from time to time.

Then she talks about how she screwed up one spell and literally made a chicken explode.  No exaggeration:  the way she tells it there was a fowl mess all over the yard.  Get it?  I know . . . well, apparently someone else didn’t get the joke, either:

 

“I’m laughing my ass off, and then I get this hand grabbing me by my hair, and my Grandma is dragging me off to a quiet part of the yard where she proceeds to beat the shit out of me. She never laid a hand on me, didn’t have to: it was all combat spells, like that bloody Air Hammer you’re learning to control.” She looked down as she twisted up the right side of her face. “She wailed on me for close to five minutes, and when she was done she just turned around and headed back to the house. I laid there for about ten, fifteen minutes, then managed to get to my feet and walk to my room. I passed both my mother and Grandma in the kitchen, and neither said a word to me.

“I didn’t say anything for a couple of days, not until Grandma came back to continue the lesson. The first thing I asked was why she tore into me like she did, and she told me, ‘While that may have seemed severe, it’s nothing compared to what you would have felt had that spell Backlashed.’ I got it right away: you screw up a death spell, and the Backlash from said spell could kill you.” Helena finally raised her head and looked at Annie. “I never screwed up a spell that bad again.”

Annie wasn’t sure if she should say something or not. She’d never heard of any such cruelty like that in her family, but she didn’t discount that maybe, perhaps a few generations back, someone on either side of her family may have done something similar. I don’t know how I would have reacted if Mama had done something like that to me. But there was one question she had to ask . . . “Did you learn Blood Hammer?”

“Oh, yeah.” Helena grinned and nodded. “Got it right later that day, and took over the chicken killing duties the next day.” She laid her crossed hands upon her lap. “Was pretty good at it, too.”

 

There you have it:  the Mistress of All Things Dark started out as the family chicken killer.  Just point and Boom!  I got your chicken, Mama!

The end of Act Two really is in sight now.  And by tonight I’ll be at least half way, or maybe more than half way, through Chapter Twenty-Five, which isn’t a big chapter, but it’s setting things up for the next chapter, which is the month down the road that Annie is thinking about–and which is not making her happy.  I’ll get to that when . . . well, when I get to it.

Writers be writin' . . .

Writers be writin’ . . .

How Not to Control Your Student

It should be pointed out that yesterday was not a good day.  The morning was dragging–or, really, I was.  And it wasn’t just your normal morning dragging; this was something brought on by depression.  I have it; I’ve suffered through it for decades.  It’s usually manageable these days, though when I saw my doctor a couple of weeks bad she told me it’s pretty obvious I’m dealing with it right now.

This isn’t a lot of fun.  Yesterday–and, realistically, the night before–I felt like I had zero motivation to do anything.  Just sit there and try not to cry.  It was happening, I knew it.  I told a few of my online friends about it, and some suggested it’s related to going off hormones before getting back on in a few days, and I didn’t argue with the logic.

Needless to say I found a way out, and by the afternoon I was better, though I still felt like I didn’t have much of an urge to get out and get anything done.

And yet, somehow I did.

"Just remember:  in the end your characters are gonna have it worse than you."

“Just remember: in the end your characters are gonna have it worse than you.”

I hinted a few days back that when it came time for my sorcery students to try out their new dominating po–I mean, “mixtures”–it was going to be necessary to try them out on each other.  That would never happen, would it?  Of course it would:  you should know me by now, and understand that at this school, the only way you know of stuff works is to use it.  And since this is sorcery class, and you’re trying to dominate another student–well, you know how it goes.

At the start five pair, ten students out of thirty-two, tried this, and the most excitement so far was two girls getting into a fight when one of the girls ask the other if anyone in her family were terrorists.  Good thing those two are coven mates . . .

And then we come to the sixth pair, Annie and Emma Nielson.  And you get a good idea of what a not-so-good sorceress looks like . . .

 

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

Helena handed Annie Emma’s potion. “A before E.” She winked as Annie sipped a third of the vial and handed it back. Then she returned to staring at Emma, who shifted slowly from one foot to the other.

Helena stopped next to Emma before returning to her chair. “She’s all yours.”

“Thanks . . . Professor.” Emma didn’t stare back at the staring Annie. She looked about the room, turned her eyes up at the ceiling, gazed at the floor—

Helena cleared her throat.  “Emma.” The girl turned towards Helena. “You can start asking questions.”

“Sure, Professor.” She faced Annie, who stood with her arms crossed over her chest. “Your name is Annie Kirilova?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.” Emma tapped her fingers against her right forearm. “You’re in Cernunnos Cover.”

“Yes.”

Emma nodded slowly, then looked towards the rest of the class with a slight, uncomfortable grin on her face. “Um . . . Where do you live?”

Annie sighed loud and long. “Pamporovo, Bulgaria.”

“Do you like it there?”

“Yessssss.” She turned to Helena. “I’m ready for submission any time she’d like to try.”

Helena forced herself to keep from laughing. “Emma, ask a question you feel Annie might not want to answer truthfully.”

“O—okay.” She drew a deep breath before looking straight at Annie. “Have you ever killed anyone?”

Annie paused for exactly three seconds. “Not yet.”

Emma straightened and immediately took a step back. “Um . . .” She turned to Helena. “I don’t think my mixture is working.”

Annie chimed in. “No, it isn’t.”

“That’s pretty obvious.” Helena got up and retrieved Annie’s mixture from the work table where they were kept. “Well, then, Emma . . .” She handed the vial over. “You get to be Annie’s subject.”

“Right . . .” She quickly sipped the mixture, looking a bit apprehensive the whole while.

Helena backed away slowly from Emma. “Have at her, Annie.”

 

It looks like Annie’s been hanging around Wednesday some . . .

I was surprised to discover I’d written seven hundred words.  That brings the last two nights of writing to a little over a thousand, but I was also working out scenes in my head, and came across something that I don’t know if I want to develop it as the kid’s history or not.  Because when I look at what is coming it’s all logical, but it’s also scary.

Then again, I have a ways to go before I ever get to that point.

Right now I'm on like B, and the scary part is like part O.  I have a ways to go.

Right now I’m on Part B, and the scary part is like Part O. I have a ways to go.

Behind the Black Curtain

There’s just a touch of snow on the ground, I’ve finished my soufflé and I’m working on my coffee.  It’s time to get down to brass tacks.

If you were looking in on me yesterday–and my blog stats say you were–you can see I made it through the day.  It was a long day, because I didn’t make it to bed until just after midnight.  So, up at four AM, off to bed at midnight–yeah, long day.  My evening was pretty much one thing after another:  The Spirit of St. Louis was playing on TV, I was chatting with a couple of people–one who was going off on an anti-vaccination fool and another discussing another article I have coming out, maybe today–and I was working on my novel.

A bit like this, only I like my coffee in a mug.

A bit like this, only I like my coffee in a mug.

Busy little multitasking beaver I was.  If there were only any money in that.

So what has been happening with that novel of late?  Writing.  A few nights ago I wrote twelve hundred words, then about six hundred, then last night I ended up somewhere between eight hundred and a thousand words.  I didn’t get an exact total, because in the middle of all this multitasking I managed to shut Scrivener down by accident and lost my session word total.  But based upon where I left off Thursday night, and where I left off last night, it was about a thousand words.

What has happened is my Dark Mistress of All, Helena, has for reasons unknown started using a little magical electricity on Kerry, which isn’t setting well with Annie, because it seems like Helena’s stepping up the power each time.  And sooner than you can say Lum chan:

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

Annie was almost out of her chair. “Stop it. Stop what you’re doing.”

Helena stepped to her right, her eyes locked on the young girl. “How do you know I’m doing this?”

“Stop playing stupid. You know you are.” Annie clenched her fists. “Stop it now.”

“Or?”

That was the real question—what would Annie do? She knew better than to throw a spell at an instructor—particularly one who’d been, or was, a Guardian. She also knew she wasn’t going to allow Kerry to be hurt . . . “Just stop it.”

“You’re going to have to convince me.” Helena shook her head. “Words won’t do it, I’m afraid.”

She’s being impossible. “What do you want me to do?” Annie turned to Kerry, then back to Professor Lovecraft. She spoke as forcefully as she could without yelling. “Can’t you be decent?”

Helena crossed her arms and leaned her face into her right fist as she appeared to consider Annie’s question. “Oh, Annie . . .” She dropped her hands to her sides. “You know what I am.” She snapped the right fingers—

Kerry’s whole body clenched: his shoulder drew in, his arms curled, his legs pulled together as he clenched himself. His eyes closed as his mouth opened in a silent scream. He remained frozen like this for a few seconds, then jerked to the left and right as if he were having a seizure. Five seconds after his current turmoil began he flopped over onto his desk, his head lying against his right arm as he moaned.

Annie couldn’t take any more. She jumped from her chair and marched towards the professor as the class watched in silence. “That’s enough, stop it, Stop It NOW.”

If Helena appeared bothered by the outburst it wasn’t evident. “Please return to your seat, Miss Kirilova.”

Miss Kirilova wasn’t about to meekly return to her desk. “I said—”

I heard you. Now, return to your seat.” Helena stepped around her and approached Kerry.

“What are you doing?” Annie spun on her. “Stay away—”

Helena pointed to the empty seat. “Get in your goddamn chair, Annie.” It was the first time the professor has spoken in anything but calm, even tones.

Felisa Ledesma, the Mexican girl in Blodeuwedd Coven, didn’t bother speaking softly. “What a crazy bitch.”

“You be quite too.” Helena was now standing over Kerry as Annie glumly retook her chair. “Or I’ll show you just how crazy I can become.”

Yeah, Salem is a fun place.  Come for the class, stay for the electrocution.

Helena teleports Kerry off to the hospital where he is cared for by Nurse Coraline, who also gives Helena a butt-full before she returns to class.  After class she returns with Annie, they see Kerry, find out he’s staying over night, and Helena comes up with an excuse to take Annie to the back of the ward to be alone.  After throwing up a magical black curtain–she is a sorceress, right?–they discuss why teacher was laying on the magical juice to Annie’s  boyfriend:

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

She turned to Annie, who was staring at her with a combination of animosity and curiosity. “You’ve been waiting to confront me since I shocked Kerry. Here’s your chance: let me have it.”

For the last couple of hours there were many things that Annie wanted to say to Professor Lovecraft, but after hearing her apology to Kerry, there was only one question that mattered. “You said you had your reasons for casting that spell on Kerry. What was it?”

Helena widened her stance slightly and crossed her arms while meeting the girl’s gaze. “You.”

For the first time since the incident with Kerry Annie registered an emotion other than anger. “Me? You’re crazy.”

You understand my mental state now?” Helena didn’t let Annie respond. “End of June, you were visited by a couple of people from The Foundation, yeah?”

Annie remembered the interview well: her mother and she had gone into Plovdiv to meet with two women from the regional office in Brno. They’d had a pleasant chat, talked about the upcoming school year, what she wanted to do . . . “I remember it well. My mother and I spent the day in Varna before going home.”

“They asked you a lot of questions about magic . . . About what you wanted to learn, but more important, what you already know.” Helena’s tone softened. “They asked you a lot about sorcery.”

That wasn’t a question. “How do you know that?”

“Because that interview produced a report.” She brought her hands together and tapped her thumbs. “One that I read.”

The anger was back, and Annie felt her face redden. “You’re spying on me?”

“Oh, please. Get over yourself, Annie.” Helena chuckled, which made Annie grow even redder in the face. “It’s a standard practice with Legacies these days—particularly those Legacies who have an interest in sorcery.” Her face darkened slightly. “We wouldn’t want another Scouring.”

Annie felt a chill run through her when she heard the word “Scouring”. Her parents had left before that event, right near the end of the school year in 2000. Her parents had told her a little about what happened, how there’d been an attack by Deconstructors who’d spent years infiltrating the school and convincing some students to follow them. Students had died along with instructors, and parts of the school were destroyed.

I can see why she’d worry about Legacies who know sorcery. “I understand now.”

“Good.” Helena hesitated as she eyes Annie closely. “The report was fairly standard: said you had a good grasp of the basics of spells casting; that your knowledge of sorcery was ‘advanced’, and that your ability to perform simply sorcery spells was ‘astounding’.”

“Really?” Annie’s mood swung back from dark to light. People from The Foundation thought I was astounding? “They said that?”

“They said other things as well. The line that stuck out the most was that ‘while the subject is technically competent and exceptional proficient, she comes across as emotionally immature’.” Helena’s demeanor turned stern. “And the last thing I want in my classroom is an emotionally immature sorceress.”

Emotionally immature. The words stung at Annie. There were many things her mother had called her from time to time, but “immature” wasn’t one of those things. “I’m not like that—”

“Maybe not. But I couldn’t take the risk.”

“Were you afraid I was going to attack you?”

“It’s happened before.” She motioned pass the dark shield into the ward beyond. “Had a B Level come at me the second week of school last year, about a quarter of the way into the class. She ended up in the ward out there, and it wasn’t for just a night.”

“Yeah, I wanted to get a rise out of you, so I stuck your boyfriend’s fingers in my magical light socket.  No hard feelings.”  Probably a good thing they don’t have corporal punishment, though wait until you find out what some of the detentions are.

There you have it.  Thursday in the story is almost over–one scene and I’m there.  Three more chapters and this first episode is history.  Then I can move on to the next project.  And tomorrow I may be taking a road trip.  I’ll see how the weather goes.

It’s nice when we can sit and just chat, isn’t it?

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.