The Final Definition of Darkness

Well, here I am, nice and warm at home.  Right now Harrisburg is buried under more than a few inches of snow, and while I don’t have an actual figure, just looking outside tells me it’s enough to keep people in.

 

What I saw this morning.

 

Here, too.

Yes, the pictures are correct: I was up at 5 o’clock this morning, my normal time, and I’ve been taking care of business ever since.  I didn’t take care of much business last night as I was at a Planned Parenthood rally and a press conference, both of which kept me out until 8 PM.  Once again, I’m being a bad activist girl getting out and doing things besides writing. I should be able to do some of that today, though around noon I’m actually going to go out and go to a blizzard party at our local microbrewery. Which means I’m a completely different kind of bad girl there…

Don’t worry, I will get some writing in tonight–or this afternoon–or whenever.  But it will get done.

In the meantime, were going to end the scene with Annie and Isis going over Blend With Shadows, were any answers the last question put to her by the Chief of Security–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

For a moment Annie thought she was being given a trick question, but quickly brushed that notion aside when she realized Isis would never do something like that. This is another test. I suppose Helena meant she wasn’t going to give me any more tests, but she said nothing about Isis… A few moments later the answer came and Annie was surprised she hadn’t seen it initially. “You can walk through the wall.”

Isis’ smile was bright in the darkness of the room. “Correct. You could walk on either side of the shadow at its base, which is essentially the same thing as walking outside or inside the shadow. Or you could walk along the top of the shadow, which is essentially the same thing as creating a large Shadow Ribbon and moving along the shadow as if it were a floor.

“Or, you could walk inside the shadow. Just like you can create a pocket space within a few millimeters of the surface of the shadow, you can learn to walk within those few millimeters and be completely undetectable to the people around you. And unlike Shadow Cage, you’re completely cognizant of the world around you, because the shadow is translucent from your point of view.” The security chief appeared pleased with herself. “It’s really a marvelous feeling. It’s even more marvelous when you realize that because you exist within the insubstantialness of a shadow, you yourself are also insubstantial. That means someone can walk right through you and never know they’ve done so.”

Annie grimaced at the idea that someone could pass straight through her while she was inside a shadow even though she was a physical being. It was then she was struck by another thought— “It’s almost like being an astral being existing within the Physical Realm.”

Isis grinned as she pointed a finger at Annie. “Yep. Now you’re catching on. The reality is you treat the shadow almost as if it is a version of the Astral Realm existing within the Physical Realm. When you think of it in that manner, the concept of being able to move through the shadow unseen becomes even easier.”

Treating a shadow as if it were part of the Astral Realm—with Deanna preparing to teach Kerry and I how to walk about in that same realm. It can’t be a coincidence. But Annie didn’t have time to wonder about possible coincidences: Isis was explaining how this difficult spell could be visualized, and Annie could see herself using it within her mind’s eye.

She forced herself to keep her hands at her side as she felt the excitement of mastering this new magic swell inside. “When do we begin?”

The mischievous sparkle they had entered Isis’ eye when she first began to discuss the spell with Annie returned. “We can begin anytime you’re ready.”

This time Annie did bounce on the balls of her feet. “I’m ready now.”

Isis motioned to the shadows she had previously stepped from. “Then get ready to step into my other office…”

 

There you have it: Annie is starting to visualize how Isis performs this magic, and as we know by now visualization is one-third the process of crafting a spell.  And if there’s one thing we know Annie excels at, it’s crafting spells.  Just what we need: a little Bulgarian sorceress who can fly into a shadow and vanish.  It’s a good thing she’s not a snoopy ass girl, or her enemies would be living in fear.

“No, you have nothing to fear from me. It’s not like I’ll hear it when you call me a stuck-up bitch like you did last night…”

Yeah, safe to say that once others in the school find out Annie can do this should become an even scarier girl–of course, this is assuming she’ll learn how to master the spell, but who are we kidding?  Annie’s like a little bulldog when it comes to magic.

Now that we know what Annie is doing on this September Tuesday night, why don’t we pop over to Advanced Transformations and see what Kerry’s doing.  Something big, I’m sure…

The Definition of Shadows

Thousand word day–yes, I had it.  I had a lot to do yesterday but writing over a thousand words was one of the things on my get it done list.  I also thought about the physics of time spells in the Normal world, which made my head hurt, but someone’s gotta think about that.

Speaking of spells Isis is about to start her talk about Those Shadows, and it’s time to bend your brain just a little…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie stepped back from Isis and spoke with confidence. “I’ve not read much on the spell, though from what I have read, it seems there’s a bit of confusion as to whether or not it’s a variation of the Light Bending spell.”

Isis’ eyebrows shot upward for just a second. “Why did it seems like there’s confusion?”

“Some of the people writing on the matter believe that Blend with Shadows couldn’t be the same as Light Bending because the lack of light made that task impossible.”

“So you agree with the concept that darkness is nothing more than the absence of light, and that shadow is nothing more than those areas where light is unable to penetrate fully.”

Annie took a moment to scratch at the corner of her mouth with her right index finger nail. “I know what Normal science says, but you and I both know that Normal science is often at odds with Aware magic and superscience.” She nodded her head slightly to the right. “Knowing what I know of The Art and spell crafting, and having a working knowledge of Shadow Ribbons, I’m certain there’s more to shadows than a simple lack of light.”

A smile appeared on Isis’ face. “Right you are. As you know from your understanding of Shadow Ribbons, a shadow is insubstantial and has substance simultaneously: it’s simply a matter of being able to craft the spell so that one can make the best of both.” Isis slipped into a moment of thought. “You haven’t gotten to the spell yet, but do you understand the concept behind Shadow Cage?”

Annie gave a quick nod. “Yes. The concept seems similar to Hammerspace in that you create a hidden pocket within the shadow.”

“That’s correct. You’re actually creating a bubble of space within an area that may be only a few centimeters deep. Like you say: the concept is very similar to that of Hammerspace and that you’re creating a pocket storage area pretty much out of nothing.

“Blend with Shadows is a little different in that you’re not creating a pocket within the shadows, but rather—” Isis searched her memory for a few seconds. “Imagine a sheer wall thirty meters high yet only about five centimeters thick. Now imagine you had not learned Levitation or Adhesion, yet you’ve decided you want to walk the length of the wall, which is a couple of hundred meters long.” Isis eyed Annie hard. “How could you walk from one end of the wall to the other?”

There were only two possible solutions that Annie saw to this problem. “You can either walk along the base of the wall, or you could carefully walk along the top of the wall.

Isis nodded. “Those are the two most obvious solutions. But you missed the third: what is it?”

 

This is one of those scenes where I really had to figure out what is actually happening in magic and how it’s being visualized.  It’s what I did in the Transformation class and I’m now doing with Advanced Spells–and this is one of the reasons writing goes slow at times.  ‘Cause making this stuff isn’t always easy.

This should finish up tomorrow, which means I’ll still be five or six thousand words ahead of you, and then–

Oh, wait:  I’m gonna be under snow tomorrow.  Should have plenty of time to write.

Here There Be Shadows

As I mentioned to one of my fans I’m a busy girl.  Oh, and now a member of the ACLU.  Yes, I went to a mixer presented by them last night and paid my dues when I got home.  So I’ll have my card by the end of April and head towards my birthday as a first-time member.  Yay me!  And tonight I’m hanging with people from Planned Parenthood, so the struggle continues.

The novel continues, albeit a bit slower, because The Resistance is important at the moment.  But I’m getting there five hundred or so words at a time, so keep watching this space ’cause my kids are coming.

And speaking of that, one of them has moved into a spooky place…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

the ground floor was gloomy the first floor of the Witch House was bathed almost entirely in darkness. The light sources here were few and emitted only the dimmest light and Annie half expected to step into the T intersection a few meters ahead and find the hallway lined with lit torches. But she didn’t need torches, for down the hall, second door on the right, a faint light came from inside a room. It was possible this was another test, but in reality she believed Helena was waiting for her there.

As Annie suspected Helena stood in the middle of the semi dark room. There was a small light source in the far left-hand corner offering the only illumination. Helen stood alongside a circular table maybe two and a half meters across round which were placed three chairs. The head sorceress smiled as her pupil into the room. “I see you made it past the enchantment.”

“I required some direction from Sabrina.” Annie looked about the room as she allowed her eyes to adjust. “Your message didn’t indicate what we are going to cover tonight. Are we going to do something with Shadow Disciplines?” Since becoming proficient with Shadow Ribbons by the middle of her A Levels, Annie had been eager to learn the other two spells in this discipline, Shadow Net and Shadow Cage.

Helena picked up a bottle of water from the table and slowly unscrewed the top. “In a way, yes.”

Annie gave her a puzzled look. “What does that mean?”

The sorceress spent about five seconds taking a drink; when she was finished she screwed the top back on the bottle and set it down. “As a Guardian, shouldn’t you always be aware of your surroundings?”

“I checked the room when I entered.” Annie was instantly on her guard. “You are the only one here.”

Helena leaned against the table. “Are you certain?”

 

Annie’s eager to get on with those Shadow Disciplines, because maybe she wants to use them to keep Kerry from leaving the house when she wants him home?  Naw, Annie is a bad ass and wants all the skills that go with that title.  Which is why she’s with Helena.

However…  When you walk into a dark room where the only person is Helena and she asks if you are sure she’s the only one there, you better have your backup plan ready:

 

“I’m—” Almost immediately Annie knew she was being tested and that there was someone else in the room. With only seconds to figure out the threat she quickly analyzed her surroundings once more and tried to figure out where the threat lay. There’s only one light source and the room is full of shadows, that Helena says were not doing Shadow Disciplines—no, she said were doing the spells in a way. Which means it’s something that isn’t specifically a Shadow Discipline. And that means

She quickly crafted ball lightning in her right hand and molded into a magical baston as she wheeled to her right. Annie moved her left hand into a striking position as she pointed her baston at the shadow to her right rear—the one that now seemed to be moving towards her. “Stop, Isis. I know it’s you.”

The motion within the shadow stopped and a portion of it protruded, quickly becoming human sized. A moment later the darkness peeled back revealing Isis Mossman, the school’s Director of Security, standing two meters away, dressed in a tee shirt, jeans, sneakers. “You’re pretty quick with that weapon.” She brushed away some imaginary dust from her top as she looked over at a grinning Helena. “You didn’t tell me she could form one of those things that quickly.”

Helena shrugged. “You’re Director of Security; I figured you’d know.”

“I do now.” She turned to Annie, who still held the magical baston. “You can put that away. It’s not like I’m going to hurt you.”

 

There likely aren’t many people who can surprise Isis at the school, but one has to wonder what she would have done if she’d been able to sneak up on Annie?  Probably just put a magical knife to her neck and threaten to cut her throat–which may have provoked a response Isis might not have wanted.  Maybe one day we’ll find out.

Right now, though, it looks like Annie is about to learn how to walk into some shadows…

Minioning the Dark Way: The Hard Performance

Today is not going to be a fun day.  I have lab work this afternoon so I’m in the middle of a twenty-four hour fast which started about one PM yesterday.  I did have a handful of nuts to eat about nine last night, but I don’t think that’s going there affect my results that much.

What will happen today, however, is that I’m going to end up going to the bathroom a lot because I’ll be drinking water pretty much non-stop.  It’s either that or feel hungry all the time.  And then when I’m done and I’m back home I’ll probably get something to eat, maybe a personal pizza which I can stop in my mouth in record time.  Because of that I needed it.

I finished up the first scene of Chapter Nine and begin working on the next scene–

Which you can see here in all its glory.

Which you can see here in all its glory.

I wasn’t surprised that I finished the first scene so quickly.  When I was done working the overnight I knew there wasn’t a whole lot more I needed to say, but my brain wasn’t functioning very well and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to say it that.  It still wasn’t functioning all that well last night, but when I got through the hundred and seventy words I needed to finish the scene, it was fairly obvious that I had reached the end.  So altogether almost 650 words last night: not bad for someone who was sucking down one glass of water after another so I didn’t have to think about how hungry I was.

Now we come to the part of the story that is really at the end of Chapter Eight where, when I was writing it, I had some difficulty with what was about to happen.  What was about to happen, you ask?

It’s a good thing I can show you…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Kerry patted Annie on the shoulder. “You better go, Mrs. Peel.”

Annie didn’t get the reference, but seeing how Helena smiled when she heard Kerry speak, she could only assume that it was another of his thousands of pop culture references. She headed over and stood next to Stella. “Yes, Professor?”

Helena indicated the new student. “I want you to shock Stella using Electrify.” Helena turned her smirk on the suddenly worried student. “But only a small one; just enough to let her know it works.”

“Certainly, Professor.” Annie raised her hand just enough so she could point at Stella. “Don’t move.”

“You don’t have—Ahhhhh.” Stella jumped as a slight crackle of static electricity was heard throughout the classroom. “You shocked me.”

Annie shrugged. “I was ordered to shock you: what did you think I was going to do?”

“I don’t…” Stella gave Helena an angry stare. “I didn’t think you were serious about that.” She then turned to Annie. “And do you always follow orders?”

This time Annie turned an unconcerned stare upon the agitated A Level. “I do when Professor Lovecraft gives them.”

“Bitch.” She turned back to the Helena. “Is this over?”

Helena twisted her mouth up into a frown. “You believe me now when I say Annie can control her crafting?”

Stella glanced to her right and then back to Helena. “You’d have her do that same thing to anyone else in this class, wouldn’t you?”

“Oh for god sake.” Helena had finally reached her limit with the bickering student. “Go sit your arse down and I’ll show you.” She waited until Stella was in her seat before turning to Annie. “That’s something I want you to do—”

 

Kerry gets off the first bit of geek humor here, because of the end of the last excerpt Helena said, “Annie, I need you.”  Leave it to Kerry to know that Emma Peel was summoned by John Steele the same way when they work together on The Avengers.  Yes, Kerry is young and shouldn’t know TV shows from the 1960s, but this thing with being a geek: your interest roam far and wide.

Annie becomes the first minion that we know of who gets to use a Morte spell on another student in class.  She used Electrify in her judgment match, but that was different: here she gives a nattering little student a quick electrical burst, no pun intended.  So we know Annie is good; we’ve always known Annie is good.  Everyone knows and he is good except for this pitching student, which gets on Helena’s nerves, and when someone gets on Helena’s nerves she tends to get a little angry.  Or a lot angry.  And that sometimes leads to her doing things in class that might seem just a bit illogical…

 

While a few of the students in class recognized that Helena was angry, they didn’t know how unpredictable she could become the way Annie knew her. She knew something bad was about to happen and she steeled herself against what she felt was likely to be the worst possible request. “Yes?”

Helena pointed across the room. “I want you to give Kerry a damn good shock, one that’s going to shake him enough that everyone in the room can see.”

A knot formed in Annie’s abdomen, for this was the outcome she’d feared. “Professor, I—”

“Do you not follow orders when they’re given?”

Annie silently damned herself for having told the student this. “Yes, Professor.”

Helena nodded at the boy across the room. “Then do it.”

Annie turned around and found Kerry looking back at both Helena and her. He knew what she’d been ordered to do—they’d both spoken loud enough for everyone in the classroom to hear—and while he didn’t appear scared, there was a look of concern upon his face. She took a few deep breaths and began to pointed him before stopping and closing her eyes. When she reopened them, Helena was standing between her and the rest of the class, speaking in a whisper that only the two of them could hear. “What’s wrong?”

She glanced up at the sorceress. “I can’t do this.”

Helena kept her voice neutral and level. “Do what?”

This time Annie turned her head so she could look at Helena. “I can’t shock him: I can’t hurt him.” She swallowed as she tried to ignore her nervousness. “I swore I would never hurt Kerry and—”

Shock him.” Helena leaned in close enough that she was nearly whispering in Annie’s ear. “Do it, or I’ll put him in the fucking hospital.”

 

So here we go: Helena wants Annie to prove that she can light up anyone in the room and not kill them, and the best person to do that to is the other minion in the class–Kerry.  And this was something that I had to fight with for a couple of days, because I knew how much of an anathema of this would be to Annie.  She has never wanted to hurt her soul mate: not physically, not emotionally, not even verbally.  And now, in front of a classroom full of new students, she is being told to use her magic to physically harm the person she loves the most in the world.

She’s on the spot and if she doesn’t carry out orders, it’s going to lead to a huge loss of face.  And if there’s a loss of face in this class to one of the minions, that means Helena has to step in, and Helena’s reaction to something like this usually involves an overreaction–

Ergo, her threat to put Kerry in the hospital.  And when she means “put him in the hospital”, she means she is going to put him down hard.

Which means Annie only has one choice available to her–

 

Annie look straight across the room at Kerry has Helena straightened and stepped away so that the students had an unobstructed view. After about five seconds Kerry gave the tiniest of nods and gaze down at the floor as he clenched his fists—

She didn’t wait any longer than necessary: Annie pulled back her arm while crafting before whipping it forward while releasing the spell.

The air around Kerry crackled the instant the spell hit. He doubled over as he gripped himself around the stomach and let slip from his clench teeth a long moan. He didn’t fall to his knees, but nearly five seconds passed before he straightened, and even then he seemed as if he might not be able to stand on his own for long.

“I gotcha.” Helena scooped up Kerry and held him close to her so they wouldn’t fall to the ground she began maneuvering him across the front of the room but stopped halfway across to glare at Stella. “You want to know what it’s like to get shocked with a Morte spell? Because that’s what it’s like to get shocked with a Morte spell.” She shifted her gaze across the room and noticed that at least half the students were avoiding her. “Any of you other geniuses decide you want to whinge on about something, next time I’m going to use you as the example. And, Stella—” She once again turned her glare upon the girl. “Three of your proficiencies just took a whack: considering we haven’t actually started the class, you’ve certainly achieved some sort of record. Congratulations.”

Helena moved as quickly toward the door as she could while holding on to Kerry. She waved the door open but before they walked out she looked back at her remaining minion, standing transfixed at the front of the room. “Annie, I need you in the hallway.” She didn’t wait to see if if she was following them out.

 

Annie does the deed even though she is not the least bit happy about carrying out the orders.  But it probably did what Helena intended for to do: it’s likely scared the shit out of all of the A Levels, and then whacking the proficiencies of the student who pitched the most about it is just a little icing on the cake.  We also see that Helena has apparently picked up her own pop-culture geekness as well, because as she is ripping on her students she’s channeling Mallory Archer and will likely become memed all over school after this day.

Now we have Kerry hurt from getting another shock on the first day of A Level Sorcery–he’s probably the only student in the history of Salem to have this happen to them–and Annie is probably pissed as all hell that she was ordered to hurt her husband and father of their future children–

You're gonna make Annie angry; you don't want to do that--

Probably.

But you know Salem:  if you’re a witch–and who here isn’t?–everything is a test.  Or it’s at least made to look like a test…

Minioning the Dark Way: Rumors of a Guardian Kind

You may find this hard to believe, but I didn’t write last night.  I was out to a wine dinner last night, and by the time I returned I was feeling a little boozy.  I probably could’ve written, but I’m certain whatever would’ve went down would not have been that good.

However, a word of warning: if you haven’t been eating much for an entire week and you go to a wine dinner that involves five courses and five different kinds of wine, expect to feel just a touch queasy the next morning–like I am right now.  Also, somehow I snapped off a nail in the middle of the night and now I need to go get my mail repaired.  Eh, it was time for polish change anyway.

At least I looked good last night.

At least I looked good last night.

I admit the last week and a half I’ve been less than enthusiastic about writing.  I think some of it was the illness; I think some of it has just been the current events.  I’m pretty certain that right now I’m at what I would call a high functioning depression, warm feeling a bit depressed but it’s not that “I just can’t take it anymore I don’t want to go on” type of depression.  Also, the news out of Washington has been exactly the sort of stuff that for the last year I said was going to happen, and that’s not helping with my general mood.  Fascism rarely does do anything for me that’s positive.

But here we have something positive: young witches who have been growing up before our eyes and are now becoming sorceresses of some reckoning.  Yesterday we got the meet The Big Bad Sorceress; today we get the meet Her Minions.

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“I want to introduce you to a couple of people.” Helena moved behind Annie and Kerry. “It’s not unusual for the instructors to employ lab assistants, all of whom we like to call minions. I don’t often use minions for A Level sorcery, but this year I’m going to employ them a bit more that I have in the past. So I like you to meet your on-again, off-again minions: Annie Kirilova and Kerry Malibey. As you may be able to tell by the stars, they are C Levels from Cernunnos coven. Both of them are in my C Level Sorcery class, which means they’re good.” She patted them both on their shoulders. “Who am I kidding? They’re better than just good. Beside here, you’ll see Kerry racing this year, and it’s my understanding that Annie is going to do a bit of tutoring, either in classes or individually.” Once more there was a low chuckle. “As if she didn’t have enough to do.”

“Since you’re in The Fishbowl you won’t have any chance to interact with them outside of this class, or any other class they might be doing minion work for, because I’m not the only one is going to use them this year. But you are going to hear rumors about them, because even though you’re not supposed to interact with the upper level kids, you can’t help but hear things when you’re in the coven towers. You’re probably going to hear things like, oh, Annie beat the hell out of a kid during a judgment match last year, and Kerry fought off a monster to save the life of his flying partner. But those aren’t rumors because those things actually happened

“There’s a lot of other things you’ll hear about them: most of it’s true, but a lot of it’s just fairy tales made up by students to amuse themselves because they’re bored. I will tell you this, however: you couldn’t ask for better sorcery minions. And when they are helping you with your lab work, it’s going to be like I’m helping you.” She slowly gazed around the room. “You had better believe what I just said, because it’s true.”

Helena brushed her hands together as she stepped away from her lab assistants. “Does anyone have any questions?” Misha Houtkooper raised his hand and Helena consulted the tablet she pulled from Hammerspace to make certain she got the name right. “Yes, Misha?”

Misha kept shifting his gaze from Helena to the top of his desk and back. Did this several times before speaking. “We heard from Professor Douglas that they might be helping us out, and someone in the coven told Lito and Sofia and me that back during their A Levels they—” He nodded in the direction of Annie and Kerry. “Left for part of a weekend with Professor Sladen and you. When they came back we were told they spent the night in the hospital because they were beat up.” He looked nervous as he asked his actual question. “They said it was because you guys were off doing something that had to do with guardians. Is that really true?”

 

It’s not often we hear Helena say anything nice about someone in public, but here she is talking up Annie and Kerry in front of a bunch of kids who’ve probably not met them.  I mean, she did say if they’re teaching you it’s the same thing as me teaching, and I’d say that’s a pretty good indication that she considers them her equal.  In the self-contained world that is Salem, this is high praise indeed.

But it would seem that even though Helena has told her class not the believe rumors, the A Levels are hearing stories.  And some of those stories seem to have the word “guardians” in them.  We read here and there, particularly in the last novel, that people at school, students and instructors alike, figured all this time that Annie and Kerry were spending together at the Witch House, or with the Head Sorceress at other locations, had something to do with Helena’s side profession.  Here is the first confirmation that people in covens are talking and that stories are slipping to the new kids to watch out for the Lovey Dovey Couple, ’cause they just aren’t all they seem.

And does this bother Helena?  Well…

 

Helena paid close attention to the other two Mórrígan coven members mentioned, Lito Echevarría, a boy from Belize, and Sophia Quirós, a girl from Venezuela, and she noticed how they appeared nearly as nervous as Misha. This made Helena wonder, first, who could be saying those things in the coven, and second, what exactly were they saying?

While it was true that the upper level students weren’t supposed to interfere with the A Levels adjusting to their new lives at school, it wasn’t always possible keep The Fishbowl separated from The Pond. There were always those chance meetings in The Rotunda or during the Midnight Madness, but the greatest possibility for an encounter was in the ground floor and mezzanine commons of each coven tower. While the older students were forbidden from doing anything to the A Levels that could be construed as bullying, it didn’t mean they didn’t offer warnings concerning some of their instructors, particularly during their first week.

And it wasn’t difficult for those warning to stretch the truth considerably—

Helena had heard nearly all the rumors concerning their Kansas City operation a year and a half earlier. By now everyone seemed to consider the cover story that Annie needed to return home due to a family emergency and Kerry needed to go to New York City for a medical checkup as one elaborate fable, but since no one who went on that Kansas City operation would confirm nor deny that they were engaged in a Guardian field op, the rumors remain nothing but rumors.

Now, however, an A Level was not only relating the rumor but they were mentioning the Guardians without knowing what they were saying. Of all the rumors that floated around the school, the possibility that Annie and Kerry were doing work for the Guardians was one that hadn’t been spoken aloud during the last school year. She was aware that a number of students suspected that the disappearance in April, 2012, had something to do with The Foundation’s intelligence service, but whenever the matter was brought up it was done so in hushed tones.

 

So she knows and it doesn’t seem to bother her that much, though the fact the A Levels are getting it this early is something of a concern.  The real question is, how do Annie and Kerry handled this?

 

Helena turned towards her two minions. “You two know anything about this?”

The couple exchange looks before turning their attention Helena. Annie spoke first. “That weekend I was called home because my mother was extremely ill and she wanted me with her.”

Kerry nodded. “I had to go to New York; doctors there wanted to do a little work on my knee because of all the damage it’d gotten.”

“I see.” Helena did her best not to appear pleased that they were still sticking to the story nearly eighteen months later. “I guess that explains why you spent the night in the hospital, Kerry. What about you, Annie?”

Annie became slightly embarrassed. “When I was getting ready to come home, I tripped down the stairs leading from my bedroom, tumbled, and broke my arm. I had it fixed at a clinic near home and they decided I was well enough to travel, so I returned to Salem.”

“Is that why you stayed in the hospital that night?”

Annie shook her head. “I had a concussion as well: that’s why it was in the hospital.”

“Okay, then.” There was a slight grin on Helena’s face as she turned back to her new students. “See? Simple explanation for everything. Like I said, a lot of these rumors come up because it’s what students want to believe. It’s one of the oldest games as ever been played at the school, and I’m sure it’s going to continue on long after were all dead and gone.”

 

My two kids stand up in front of the class of newbies and lie their asses off with straight faces, because that’s what they were trained to do.  And, of course, Helena is proud of their obsfucation.  They were put on the spot and they stuck to their story and they didn’t seem to think it was that big of a deal: that’s the way a Guardian is supposed to act.  Maybe this means that the class Helen is gonna give him a cookie–

Nah, they’re gonna get something else.

Minioning the Dark Way: Dark Honesty

After a couple of days I seem to be at the point where I have recovered from my long walk on Saturday.  I haven’t started on my post yet, mostly because yesterday was busy with work and a heavy nap when I got home.  I also feel as if I’ve finally gotten back to a hundred percent health as well and this helps.  The last couple of nights I’ve felt sore and distracted have only been able to write about six hundred words each night, so it’s all coming back slowly.

This excerpt delete is a continuation of one I started yesterday. It basically finishes up the thoughts that Helena began she first walked in the classroom.  And one of the things that comes up in this short, five hundred and fifty word monologue, is one of the reasons why it teaches a branch of magic that really does little more than help one person kill another.  Of course it doesn’t tell the whole story–none of the A Levels know that they only have two years of mandatory Sorcery–but he gives an insight into where they’re going.

So let us begin:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Helena hooked her thumbs in the belt hoops of her pants and began a slow walk across the front of the classroom. “Sorcery isn’t like that; there are no real ‘beneficial applications’ for the spells you’ll learn in this class. The spells you’ll craft and the formulas you’ll mix are designed to hurt, and possibly even kill, other people.” She stopped and turned only her head toward her class. “That’s it. That’s how all these spells are used. And that means when you come into this classroom to learn how to craft this magic, you damn sure had better be able to find the strength within you to cause some pain.

“Now I know—” Helena waved her right hand in the air. “I sound like twenty different kinds of crazy bitch up here. And you know what? It always sounds like that to the A Levels on the first day in this class. There’s probably even a few you, sitting here watching me, thinking, ‘Why would the school even allow such a thing to happen?’ I mean, in all the fiction out there about witches and magic and sorcery, anyone using magic or sorcery to hurt another person is a bad witch. And to use magic to kill another person—oh, god.” She shook her head. “How could the headmistress, in good conscience, allow me to show you things?”

Helena finally stopped, faced her students, and crossed her hands in front of her waist. “The reason I’m going to teach these things to you because you’re going to discover, rather soon, that we’re the good witches and the truly bad witches out there will kill you without a second thought. Actually more apt to kill you now because you can’t do shit to defend yourselves.” She gave a slight nod. “That’s what I’m going to change.”

She turned to her left and began slowly making her way across the front once more. “Two years ago the bad witches attacked us on what we now call the Day of the Dead. We call it that because that’s the day they attacked: 1 November, the day that people in some countries honor and remember the spirits of deceased infants and children.” Helena chuckled. “These assholes have nothing if not a sick sense of humor.

“We had patrols in the air; we had people on the ground; we had defense screens up along the outer wall and the Pentagram Wall. The bad guys figured out a way of getting in and while they were only inside a short time, they still managed to kill ten people: one instructor and nine students. There were a lot of acts of bravery that day and we had a few close calls with people who almost didn’t make it. I myself was on the ground and I sent a few bad guys on their way beyond the Veil. And I did it using sorcery. Which is exactly what you would use if you should ever find yourself in a similar situation.” She wagged her right finger in the air as so to make her point. “This is why I teach this: because one day you may very well find yourself in a life or death situation, and you’ll want to live.

 

“One day you’ll be in a life or death situation, and you want to live.”  And it really doesn’t get any simpler than that.  Now course, it takes two years to find out you’ve got the right stuff to be that sort of person who wants to live, but you will pick up a few neat little tricks along the way and maybe that’ll be enough to keep your bacon out of the fire.  Or you’ll know enough to hide behind the people who do know how to deal death.

And speaking of those people, I’ve got two little witches I want to introduce to you…

Mother’s Little Annoyance: Your Son, the Sorceress

In the last except Kerry’s mother, Louise, decided she was gonna push the boundaries and get right to the heart of the matter of what her son learns at school, and discovered–somewhat to her dismay–that it’s not anything like those nice witch school you read about in books where they do stuff like change birds into cups.  Nope, Mama Malibey discovered that some students know how to kill someone with their brain, and guess what?  Her son is one of those people who’ve learned how to do that–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Louise seemed to stop breathing for a few seconds as Kerry’s single word hit her. “Are you serious?”

Kerry nodded. “Completely.”

“I—” Louise wiped the back of her left hand across her brow. “Did you teachers show you that?”

“No.” Once more he looked down as he drew in a breath. “I taught myself.”

What?”

“I read about the spell in a book from our library and stared figuring it out on my own. I practiced for most of the school year and finally got to where I could control it completely.”

“And your teachers let you do this?”

He shrugged. “I had help.”

Who?”

“Annie.”

Louise swallowed hard. “They let her help you?”

“Yeah.”

“How in the hell could they—?”

“Because she already knew a Morte spell.” He kept his face free of his feelings but the quiver in his voice spoke of the combination of fear and frustration running through him. “Annie learned the spell when she was ten, so when she entered Salem for our A Levels she had what we call a ‘yellow flag’ on her student file: it means you know and can control a Morte spell. Since she was already able to do one of those spells already, the Head Sorceress more or less had her help me.”

“And the school allowed that?”

“Yeah, sure.”

 

Right about, oh, now, Louise should be shitting he knickers ’cause her son–you know, the one she’s mentally and emotionally abused for years–is admitting to knowing how to use these spells, and admits even further that he’s learning them from The Girl Who Writes–who, it also turns out, is not only someone Louise has been tossing shade at for at least a year, but is a little Dark Witch in her own right who learned one of these spells when she was ten.

Needless to say, this news has her head spinning:

 

Louise stared up at the ceiling while shaking her head. “I can’t believe her parents would allow her to learn something like—”

“Her parents are witches, Mom.” Kerry leaned on the table as he sighed. “From what she’s told me they were pretty good sorceresses as well and had a lot of books on the subject around the house. They got her a book of her own when she was nine because they wanted her to learn the right way.”

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this.” When she decided to question Kerry about his schooling she’d anticipated some bad things could come out of the discussion, but she hadn’t any idea that this sort of nonsense occurred. “Your school allows a girl your age to teach you a spell to kill people—”

“Why not? They let me teach her the spell I knew.” He didn’t wait for his mother’s shocked gasp to dissipate and vanish. “Professor Lovecraft, the Head Sorceress, says that good sorceresses not only learn but can teach what they know, so she got the school to allow Annie and I to teach each other things. She gets mentored in advanced things by Helena—”

“Who?”

“Professor Lovecraft. She gets mentored by her and then teaches me and I teach Annie the things I learn in Advanced Transformation. We’re evaluated on how well we do with the lessons in the same way we’re evaluated in class.”

Louise closed her eyes as she shook her head. “I can’t even comprehend how your school can allow these things—”

“That’s because it’s not the Normal world.” Kerry was certain his mother though he meant normal with a small “n”, but after two years at school he knew better. “We do things differently at school because—” He shrugged. “Because we’re different:  we’re witches.  We don’t learn the same as other kids.”

“Like kids you used to go to school with.”

“Yeah, like that.” He nodded once. “Like Normal kids.”

 

And there is lay the rub, Louise:  your son isn’t like all other kids with whom he used to attend school, and maybe that’s the reason you should have spent the summer getting to know him instead of Gish Galloping him a few weeks before he heads back to school.  Maybe he wouldn’t have freaked you out as much–

"See, right here, Mom, the school says we can't use death spells against our parents--not without permission first--"

“See, right here, Mom, the school says we can’t use death spells against our parents, not without permission from a teacher–“

–or maybe not.  The point is you spent most of your life ignoring the boy before he discovered he can do magic and now you’re having an even harder time getting to know him.

But since he keeps bringing up the name of his Bulgarian Buttercup, maybe now is a good time to learn a bit more about her–and what she means to a certain Ginger Hair Boy…

Witches Over Salem: the Delayed Discussion

For a while I didn’t think I was going to make it through the day:  I’d lost all my internet and cable at the apartment, and it was a dull time with nothing but my writing and napping to keep me occupied.  Fortunately I took a long nap in the afternoon–almost ninety minutes–and not long after waking the television started working, and about two minutes after that the internet came back.  Huzza!

Then I managed to get back into my writing–because without music, Cassie is a dull girl when she writes–and I finished the scene while drinking a Game of Thrones Take the Black Stout:

You know nothing about drinking, Jon Snow

You know nothing about drinking, Jon Snow

And then, between moments of trying to work out what to say next, I decided to figure out how to take pictures without using a flash and manged a few off my balcony:

What you see without me--

What you see without me–

 

And what you see with me.

And what you see with me.

And between all this BS I managed to finish out the scene with another five hundred words, making my total for yesterday around seven hundred and twenty-five words.  Now all that remains is one scene, and I should knock that off today, which means by tomorrow Chapter Twenty-One will be a done deal.  And the next chapter should see me finally pushing the novel over two hundred thousand words, and means I’ll finish up this novel in another twenty-five thousand words.  Right?  Right . . .

Now, what happens with my kids while they’re sitting way up over the city of Salem talking.  If you sit tight, I’m gonna let them tell ya . . .

 

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

Kerry chuckled while shaking his head. “You get used to it, but you don’t like it. You seem to be doing okay, though.”

“I’m a mountain girl; ten below isn’t that unusual for me.”

“What about the thirty below?” He leaned towards her as much as he could without off-balancing the broom. “I noticed you slowly down a little here and there.”

Annie said nothing for a few seconds. “You were right about the cold building up around you: it gets a bit oppressive after a while.” She slowly spun to her right, looking out towards the ocean. “The view is magnificent up here.”

Kerry couldn’t disagree with his soul mate’s statement. The clear sky allowed them to see dozens of kilometers in every direction, and not only was the whole of Salem laid out below them, but Beverly and most of the small towns were visible to the north, Marblehead and the north Boston neighborhoods were clear off to the south, and Manchester, Gloucester, and most of Cape Ann were clear in the east. Kerry even saw planes taking off from Logan, launching north-northwest into the wind before turning on to their proper headings. “It is beautiful today.” He rubbed his nose with his right mitten. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day to fly.”

 

I’ve already shown one image of what their scene looks like to the north, and I also have similar images for the east–

Though we're looking more out to sea and not towards the school.

If you look hard enough you can almost see the school–if you were a witch, that is.

And another off to the south:

And right there in the middle of the picture is there favorite Starbucks.

And right there in the middle of the picture is their favorite Starbucks.

If there is any question about how far they can see, I did consult the Distance to the Horizon Calculator, which allows one to plug in an altitude and tells a person just how far they can see on a clear, clear day.  The kids are sitting eight hundred meters over the train station, and according to the calculator they can see one hundred and one kilometers.  The school is twenty-five kilometers away, so their sharp little eyes would see it pretty well.

Now that the travelogue is out of the way, let’s get to what’s on someone’s mind–

 

“I hope they’re all like this . . .” Annie finished her slow spin and faced Kerry. “May I ask something?”

“Sure. You can always ask me anything.”

“What happened during our Morte demonstration last week?”

Since the moment when Helena asked him pretty much the same thing in the aftermath of his demonstration last Thursday, Kerry expected Annie to ask the same. He knew she wouldn’t ask right away—that wasn’t her style—but he knew the question was coming because Annie had to ask. I know she tells Helena stuff about me, because it concerns my training; it’s the same thing I do with Jessica when I have to tell her how Annie’s doing our transformations lessons. “You mean when I froze for a few seconds?”

 

This is the first time we get any conformation that Kerry is having discussions with Jessica about Annie and her transformation instruction.  So Annie confers with Helena, and Kerry confers with Jessica, and both the little witches have to be completely honest about the abilities of the other to instructors who are considered the toughest and most intimidating at the school.  Though it’s never been shown, one would have to know by now that Annie told Kerry not to hold anything back, and to be honest about her instruction, because Jessica was going to know if Kerry were fibbing about Annie’s lessons.

No, not a lot of pressure at all.

Now that Kerry has been asked, and has known the question is coming, he readies his answer . . .

 

She nodded. “Yes.”

He slid his broom forward so he was not only as close as he could get to Annie without having her rest against him, but he managed to block the wind that was blowing into her face. “I froze for a second because the girl zombie reminded me of someone.”

Annie immediately knew of the person to whom Kerry was referring. “The girl from your dreams, right?”

“Yeah. The moment I saw the ginger hair I just—” He drew in a breath as he looked off to his left. “It was like there was something in the back of my head that was telling me something—” He shrugged and turned back to Annie. “I have no idea what it was.” He sighed. “It was a one-time thing: it won’t happen again, because I know not to let it happen.”

Though she didn’t show anything, Annie found his comments interesting. This girl was in his rune dream trying to tell him about me; what is she trying to tell him now? “Have you had anymore dreams about her?”

 

Yeah, what is that girl trying to tell Kerry?  But does Annie look bovvered?  Well . . . maybe?  And since she wants to know if that ginger-haired dream creature has appeared again . . .

 

“No, not a one.” He elaborated when he saw Annie was about to ask another question. “I promised I would tell you if I saw her again, and I’m keeping that promise. If I saw her, I’d tell you the next morning.”

This was all the explanation Annie need. “I believe you.” She floated a little closer and touched his hand. “There’s no need to discuss this any further.”

There was something Kerry needed to know, however. “What are you going to tell Helena?”

Annie wasn’t going to lie to the most important person in her life. “I’m going to tell her—when she asks, mind you—that what happened resulted due to a specific trigger; that you recognized that trigger; and that you won’t let it happen again.” She bowed her head slightly as she kept her eyes locked on Kerry’s. “It’s nothing any of us should consider a problem.”

He nodded slowly. “Does that mean I’m still Guardian material?”

“Oh, my love—” She floated the rest of the way and hugged her soul mate high above the City of Witches. “You’re always been Guardian material. The only one you’ve needed to convince of that fact is you.”

 

Annie’s happy with Kerry’s explanation, and she’s not worried that this is a one of those freakouts that’s going cause a problem if they’re out in the field–say, tomorrow–and the shit once again hits the magical fan.  He’ll do his duty, and that’s that.  No more to discuss, and they can finish out the rest of Annie’s first solo flight in peace.

There you have it, the full finished scene–

See, only one more scene--

And see, only one more scene–

–In this chapter, I should say.  Chapter Twenty-Two awaits, and after that comes Part Seven, Elements of Joy and Terror, and that, my friends, is where things really start to get serious . . .

Demonstrations of Death: Observations in the Quiet

Finally, finally, finally, after four days and just a little over as many thousands of words as that, this fourth scene of the twenty-first chapter is over and done.

See, I don't lie. Not about this. Usually.

See, I don’t lie. Not about this. Usually.

So we get to the end of this cavalcade of blood–and it was bloody, and probably done that way for a reason, because my kids do know how to make a point when they put their minds to it–and Helena is one happy Mistress of All Things Dark.  Well, she’s almost completely happy, and you’ll see why–

 

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

Helena waited for some silence to return—and for the multiple instances of retching to subside—before speaking. “That wasn’t expected.” She gave the boy a lopsided smile as he turned towards her, the lightning sword still glowing in his hand. “Quite the move, too: I’d never seen that.”

Annie clutched her hands and rested them against her tummy. “He stared working on that beginning of December.” She appeared quite proud. “Said he wanted to have it perfected before the end of this month.”

“I’d say he’s succeeded there.” Helena approached him slowly. “Guess we’re going to have to get you some Jedi robes.”

Kerry made the sword disappear. “I actually learned that from an old anime—” He looked down, away from Helena. “I’ve only seen Star Wars a couple of times.”

“Still, it’s a good variation of Electrify.” Helena shook her head, chuckling. “You can always use another weapon—” She stepped between Kerry and his levelmates: the only one who could see them clearly was Annie since she was standing a few meters away from the others. She lowered her voice so Kerry was the only one who could hear. “You okay?”

 

First off, the fact that Kerry hasn’t seen Star Wars that much may seem strange, but there are some of us in that bucket.  (waving hands here).  Second, he’s right when he says he got the light sword from an old anime, because–of course–I know what anime he got it from.  That would be Tenchi Muyo!, the story of the most sexually repressed teenage boy in Japan and the extremely attractive and slightly psychotic girls who want to be his OTP.  It started out as an OVA, which I have, and then branched out into several variations of the same story, which is not all that unusual when it comes to anime.

He got the idea from Ryoko, the aqua haired–yes, again with the aqua hair!–space pirate who, in the OVA, is imprisoned inside a cave on Tenchi’s grandfather’s property, and who is eventually released and who is probably responsible for ninety percent of the crazy shit that happens to the boy.  She can make swords out of energy–check for Kerry–and throw energy balls–another check–and can fly–okay, not so much a check for him, but right up Annie’s alley–

And she has cleavage, which is a must for all young anime space pirates.

And she has cleavage, which is a must for all young anime female space pirates, but isn’t something Kerry needs.

She’s also deeply in love with Tenchi, and wants more than anything to be with him–a check for Kerry in relating to Annie–and is extremely open emotionally–another huge check for Kerry.

She's also tried to kill him with energy blast, something Annie hasn't tried yet with Kerry.

She’s also tried to kill him with energy blasts, something Annie hasn’t tried yet with Kerry.

By the way, until I found this gif I’d forgotten this scene–the OVA is from 1992 and I haven’t seen it in fifteen years–and I realize that’s a pretty good approximation of Annie’s “kill shot”, though Annie needs to work up the power a bit more than Ryoko and she uses both hands to focus and fire.  By the way, Ryoko’s name is spelled using an unusual kanji, and generally translates as “Bringer of Demons,” though in the OVA it’s stated as meaning, “The Devil Caller”.  That’s not a check for Kerry because he’s not a devil caller–yet.

So why all the concern, Helena?  Well . . .

 

His gaze shot up from the floor and froze upon the sorceress’ face. “Yeah, I’m good.”

“You sure?” Since Kansas City Helena made a point of reviewing all of the training video of these two, paying particular attention to Kerry’s training. She was aware he’d “had a problem” during the fight on the Link Bridge, and she accepted Annie’s explanation that Kerry had over-thought the situation and tried to split up his actions instead of going on the attack.

Since then she’d watch him learn when to defend and when to attack, and Helena was satisfied that any situations like the one that arose in Kansas City wouldn’t happen again. However, she’d seen his reaction after he set his sights on the girl homunculus, and it puzzled her. He hadn’t froze out of indecision; Helena felt it was more like the homunculus had triggered something, though she couldn’t imagine what— I have to be certain he’s okay: I can’t have this being a problem, not if The Guardians decide to renege on their promise and whistle up a field op this spring.

Kerry nodded. “Yes, Professor.” He glanced over his shoulder at the headless body of the homunculus. “For a moment there—” He looked down, though he was chuckling instead of appearing pensive. “It was like I flashed on something for a second that kinda just . . . pulled me away.”  As he looked up he nodded slightly.  “It’s not a big deal; it’s not gonna happen–”  He nodded towards the wall to his left.  “–out there.”

Helena didn’t question what had happened—at least she wasn’t going to do so now. Annie saw this; I know she’ll ask him at some point. She patted him on the shoulder as her voice returned to a normal tone. “Okay, good job.” She tossed her head to the left. “Go join your SO and give her a hug.”

“Thank you, Professor.” Kerry did as ordered and carried out both request.

 

This is the first indication that Helena is monitoring their progress, that she not only aware of what went down during the Link Bridge Battle and that she’s spoken with Annie about it, but that she’s concerned that Kerry might do the same thing again were they out in the field and the shit hits the fan.  But she trusts his explanation, and she also knows Annie will get to the bottom of this as well, and give Helena a report.  Not because Annie’s a little snitch, but because, once more, her eyes are on the prize, and that means training up here Dark Witch to be the best.

This leaves up with nothing but cleanup and the notice that not everyone in the room is cut out for the Sorcesses’ Life–

 

“There you are.” Helena turned her attention back to the rest of the students. “That’s how you do Morte, and one day some of you may be able to do the same as my minions.” She turned towards Lisa, who was doing her best to slide unseen into the background. “Once again you questioned the abilities of your levelmates, and you got your ass handed back to you.” Helena flashed two fingers. “That’s your second strike; there won’t be a third.” She finally noticed Gavino, the Italian boy from Blodeuwedd, lying on the floor. “He fainted? Really?”

Shadha Kanaan nodded. “Yes, Professor.”

“Okay, get his feet elevated—” She finally noticed the students who’d thrown up, the various sports of vomit on the floor, and the head of homunculus laying close by. “Everyone who got sick, lay down against the wall.” She flicked the head away, sending it to rest next to its body. “I’ll get a nurse down here to see to you.” She turned to Annie and Kerry. “While we’re waiting head over to The Manor and get cleaned up. I’ll have Housekeeping—”

“That’s okay, Professor.” A satisfied smirk settled upon Annie’s face. “I’m fine like this.”

Helena’s right eyebrow shot upward. “What about you, Kerry?”

Though he wasn’t quite as messy as Annie, his face and clothes were covered with their fair share of blood. “I’m okay.” He smiled broadly before shrugging. “Blood’s kinda of an occupational hazard for some people in The Foundation, right?”

It took every gram of willpower the Head Sorceress possessed to keep from laughing. “Yes, that is certainly true.”

 

Never let it be said Annie and Kerry haven’t started coming into their own by (1) getting ready to help out in the class, while (2) being bloody as hell, (3) learning this same Morte spell at the same time–assuming they haven’t already–and (4) probably chuckling darkly at the mayhem they helped create.  And they got Lisa in trouble again, which is always a plus.

Now on to the Penultimate scene, and it shouldn’t be that long, at least I don’t think so–

I’m kinda up in the air about it.

Demonstrations of Death: An Electrifying Performance

So a quick one today this morning, ’cause I’m running behind schedule a little here–between this getting ready in the morning stuff and trying to get so many things finished before heading out the door to work, I don’t seem to have a much time in the mornings as before.  Getting dressed and getting my makeup on does seem to take a lot more time than before, when I used to throw on a couple of things and head out the door.  Sigh.  Don’t remind me that I chose the Vag Life.

Anyway, it’s time for Annie’s Soul Mate to get up and do his thing, and let’s see how that went–

 

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

It took a few minutes for Helena to juant away the body and have a couple of APs from Housekeeping clean up the mess left behind by the bleed out. She didn’t check on the condition of her students: they were seeing things that she’d grown into at a much younger age, and if they wanted to learn about Morte spells, then they were gonna have to deal with what the spells did, and the aftermath. They got a taste of this last year in Ramona’s class— The floor cleared and housekeeping departed. They didn’t handle it well then, which means they probably aren’t going to handle it well now . . . “Okay, Kerry: you ready?”

He nodded then gave the still slightly bloody Annie a hug before walking out to where his soul mate had stood only minutes before. “You want Electrify, Professor?”

“Yes, I do. However, let’s change things up a bit.” She tapped the display and two cabinets popped into position where the one had appeared for Annie.

He turned around, his head cocked slightly to one side. “I get two?”

“I’ve heard that Annie can handle two—” Helena gave Kerry a wink. “You wanna show her you can, too. Don’t you?”

He exhaled and smiled. “Sure.” Kerry spun around and faced his soon-to-be targets. “I’m ready.”

“Then here they come.”

Both cabinet doors snapped open at the same time, and both homunculus shambled out and made their way forward. Kerry felt his excitement begin rising and quickly he forced it down, setting himself to concentrate. His targets were much like Annie’s: zombie trackers about his age and size, both attired in Salem school uniforms, the one on his left a boy and the other on his right a—

Something ‘caused Kerry to close his eyes and shake his head; when he opened them the snarling fake walkers were less than three meters away and closing. He let out a short gasp as he realized his situation. How long were my eyes closed?

 

Now don’t get worried here, because Kerry makes a really nice recovery–

 

Kerry stepped to his left as he raised his right hand and rapidly crafted a Electrify shot, firing it off when the boy zombie was only about a meter away and reaching for him. He half-extended his hand and fired a bolt of blueish electrical energy into the throat and chest of the homunculus while taking two steps to his left to keep the girl zombie at a safe distance. The three second blast blackened the boy zombie’s shirt, jacket, and skin; before he dropped the spell the shirt caught fire and began burning the homunculus’ chin and face. He gave the staggering homunculus another electrical shot to the face and Air Hammered it hard: the upper half of the burning, damaged body ripped open jetting blood in several directions, with one of the sprays catching Kerry on this left side of his face and chest. He hit it with another Air Hammer, blasting it out of the way before it could become a messy obstacle.

With one undead creature out of the way, Kerry crafted a ball of energy in his left hand and prepared to take on the long haired zombie intent on biting him. Two meters away the homunculus raised its arms and reached for her target; Kerry closed his hand around the ball, turning it into a glowing blue-white pole a couple of centimeter across and a meter long, with three-quarters of the emerging from beyond his clenched fist. With a growl he shoved the electrical sword into the chest of the girl zombie, pushing he backwards as the smell of burning flesh began wafting away from the battle.

Kerry gave his sword a hard thrust and pushed it out the zombie’s back, scorching her jacket and crimson hair. He came face-to-face with this growling creature, grinning wildly, then jerked the sword down and to the left, ripping open the chest just below the zombie’s right arm. Ignoring the fresh blood pumping from the open wound, Kerry pivoted slightly to his left, then brought the sword around in a vicious forearm swing. He caught the girl homunculus just below the jaw, slicing through the neck and sending the head sailing towards Kerry’s levelmates. It landed with a thud that was barely heard over the screeching of several students.

 

I tried to find a nice image of a head flying through the air, but instead here's the story.  You can imagine the head on your own.

I tried to find a nice image of a head flying through the air, but instead here’s the story. You can imagine the head on your own.

It would seem that Annie and Kerry have learned a few tricks in Ramona’s Sunday morning class, and it’s paying off nicely, because Kerry wouldn’t have learned any of those neat tricks back in Cardiff public school.  Also, their styles are a lot different, but then so is their magic: from a martial arts point of view, Exsanguination could be seen as an internal discipline, while Electrify is always more external unless you’re already at Helena’s level.  And I should time line these both out, but all opponents were “dead” in under ten seconds.  That’s some quick dispatching.

Tonight I will finish up this scene and evaluate if I need to modify the next couple of scenes–because, really, they’re starting to bother me.  I’ll explain later.

Demonstrations of Death: Bloody Good Show

Before anything else goes down, there’s a little something that popped up on my Facebook time line today, and that something has to do with historical timelines.  I bring this up because one year ago today I posed The Coming of the Chestnut Girl, and we finally discovered the identity of The Chestnut Girl, about Kerry’s attachment to Annie through their dreams, how he first expressed something most important to her.

Of course that little coming out session led to my kids getting confronted by Helena as soon as they were done pouring their hearts out, and before long they’d find someone trying to rip their hearts out, because bad guys are assholes.  Not to worry thought, ’cause my kids were trained up enough that they managed to keep everyone from dying, and eventually Kerry learned (1) that someone wanted him to be a Dark Witch and (2) to stop overthinking everything.

What a difference a year makes–

Like almost a quarter of a million words difference.

Like almost a quarter of a million words difference.

I eventually wrote just over eighteen hundred words yesterday, and this section I’m showing today is all about practical demonstrations, and it starts off in a bit of a snarky way . . .

 

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

Kerry looked to Annie as she looked back. She half-shrugged her head to the right. “How do you feel?”

“You guys don’t have to do this.” Helena stepped so she was almost between them so she could speak more confidentially. “Like Annie said, you’re not here to show off.”

“True, but—” Kerry quickly glanced to his right, then between Annie and Helena. He lowered his voice. “I’m tried of Lisa’s crap.”

Annie nodded and spoke in the same hushed tones. “So am I.”

“Then it’s settled.” Helena returned to her spot to Kerry’s right. “Since I brought a few homunculi for those students who might be ready for a go at a quick test of their abilities, you’ll be able to see what my minions can do.” She glanced to her far left. “Annie, would you mind demonstrating the Exsanguination spell? I’ve not actually seen you do this on a full homunculus, and I would love to see it in action. I hear your spell is . . .” The right corner of her mouth curled upward. “Killer.”

Annie smiled darkly at Helena’s inside joke. “Of course, Professor.”

 

Who says Helena doesn’t have a sense of humor?  It’s just a little snark between Guardians, is all–and if you don’t believe Annie isn’t thinking of herself as a Guardian by now, you don’t know my Chestnut Girl.  As with all things involving her, it’s eyes on the prize, and this prize has a big “G” on the ID.

So let’s get Annie up there first with her killer spell:

 

Helena pulled out a tablet and began scrolling through something on the screen. A moment later one of the cabinets that were used for holding homonculi appeared about twenty meters from the group. “Since Ramona knows how much you all love those training zombies, she cooked up a batch this week just for you.” She tapped the screen a few times, then nodded at Annie. “You go first.”

“Yes, Professor.” She examined the cabinet as she stepped about five meters away from the other students. “Tracker homunculus?”

“Oh, yeah.” Helena grinned. “Those always give people an incentive to be good.” Her finger hovered over the tablet display. “Ready?”

Annie looked straight ahead, flexing her fingers. “Yes, Professor.”

“Here goes.” She tapped the display.

 

Right off the bat, when Annie says, “Tracker homunculus,” the students watching should have grown nervous.  Then you watch Annie standing there like she’d ready to beat the hell out of someone, and that should have been Nervous Moment #2.  So let’s open the door and see who’s about to try and lay the smack on Annie.

 

The door opened and the homunculus stumbled out. Annie was well acquainted with the type: a girl-like humanoid about her size dressed in a school uniform and appearing to be about a week dead. Like the ones Kerry and she had trained with in the past, this one didn’t stink of rotting flesh, though Annie half expected that at some point Helena would throw a few like that at them to test their concentration.

The tracker zombie keyed on Annie and snarled, then began shambling towards her. She was aware that these homunculus moved faster than they appeared to move, but in the short time she’d had to set up Annie knew what she wanted to do to this thing. All of them want some sort of an exhibition— She pushed her hair back over her shoulders and began to craft.

The zombie girl was about four meters from Annie when two black ribbons eased down from the shadows and wrapped around the homunculus’ upper arms. The zombie snarled and thrashed, but couldn’t free itself from Annie’s spell. It stumbled forward another three meters, finally jerking to a stop about a half meter from the unmoving, unwavering Annie. With Annie close enough to touch it reached out, trying to get hold of her so it could carry out its instinct to bite.

Annie stood in front of the angry, snarling creature, showing no emotion. Once she was certain the homunculus was secure she reached out and took the zombie’s hand in her right and pressed it down hard. It was only as she began crafting the transformation spell that a slight smile finally appeared upon her face.

Slowly the zombie’s hair changed from the the dark brunette to a light blond almost the identical shade of Lisa’s hair. Annie knew it wasn’t necessary to go this far to make a point, but as like Kerry she’d grown tired of the girl’s crap, and while she didn’t know if the argumentative girl would get the point Annie was about to make, she knew others in their level would.

The little sorceress inhaled deeply, clearing her mind. What she was about to do next she’d done before, and under far different, more stressful, conditions. She focused her energy and pulled in the dark energy she needed finish crafting her Exsanguination spell. All that remained was for her to activate the spell with her will . . .

She raised her left hand close to her face and pointed her finger at the snarling face of the zombie.

 

So the kids wanted to see stuff, but they weren’t likely expecting Annie to go all Natural Born Killer on this simple homunculus.  Sure, it’s enchanted to make you go unconscious the moment it bites you, because you should always know that if this were real–and who’s to say this isn’t in this world?–you’d be Zombie Chow.

But Annie’s taking this shit to another level.  First, she shows she can truss up her zombie and that she has no fear it’s going to free itself from her shadow ribbons.  Then she works in her little bit of transformation magic she’s learned from Kerry and gives her homunculus the same shade of hair as Lisa.

And then she gets serious . . .

 

Blood immediately began gushing from the homunculus’ nose, ears, and mouth. The snarling increased as the creature’s head began whipping about, spraying Annie’s face and the upper half of her uniform jacket and blouse with flecks of blood. Annie gripped the creature’s hand and held it steady as the homunculus’ clothing began soaking up the blood seeping from its body. In a few seconds the creature’s eyes filled with blood and sprayed away from its face as a huge burst of fluids doused the floor under its feet. The homunculus jerked three times and went limp a few seconds before falling completely.

Annie took two steps back from the zombie before turning and presenting a bloody visage to her fellow students—some who were gasping, some who were retching. She swiped blood from her eyes and flicked it to the floor before waving her hand back over her shoulder to kill the shadow ribbons. “I hope—” She walked towards Helena as the lifeless zombie homunculus collapsed with a loud thud. “—that was what you expected, Professor.”

Helena nodded and did her damnedest to keep the smile on her face from being seen by anyone but Annie and Kerry. “That was was far more than expected, Annie.” She waited until Annie, bloody and smiling, stood at her left before nodding towards Kerry. “Give me a minute to jaunt this mess away, then it’s your turn.”

 

That Annie, she knows how to show off when she wasn’t intending to show off.  The thing is Annie doesn’t show off, and everything she did had a point–

"And I do hope you bitches saw that point . . ."

“And I do hope you bitches saw that point . . .”

Everyone in the room got to see Annie’s signature move, and managed to see it in a way that didn’t involve them screaming and running for their lives, as they likely would have done the first time Annie kicked this sucker off when it was meant to mean something.  Sure, the shade throwing wasn’t necessary, but as Helena once said, one of the best things you can get for yourself is a bad ass rep, and Annie certainly added to that one.

Up next, Kerry–

Just as soon as they bloody zombie is out of the room.

Details of Dark Witching

A comment came up yesterday, though it was more of a question:  if they heard Helena tell them, “I’m gonna show you how to kill someone,” they weren’t sure how they’d react.  Really, if you were twelve or thirteen and some scary woman told you she was gonna show you out to put out someone’s lights with magic, would you clench up and listen, or say, “Fuck this noise,” and head for the doors?

If you know this school, you know everyone’s in the first camp.  Mostly because anyone hitting the doors won’t be let back in class.  Helena would say there’s no shame there, not everyone can hack the darkness, and she’s probably wish you well in the rest of your studies.  In the meantime, however, she’s getting ready to launch all the kiddies down that path so she can see what shakes out.

 

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

Helena looked over the faces of her students and waited a few moments before continuing her talk. “Oh, wipe those shocked looks off your faces: most of you have wondered about this since the first day of sorcery class back in your A Levels when you got to see a Morte spell up close and personal.” Her eyes shifted slightly to her left, towards a couple of students standing to one side in the front of the group. “A couple closer than the rest of you.”

After the couple of students in question finished shaking their head and rolling their eyes, the Head Sorceress moved on. “As you know, as you were informed that day that there isn’t just one ‘death spell’, that there are seven Morte spells that can cause death, but the reality is if you are a skilled enough witch, any magic can be made deadly.

“For example . . .” She turned to her lift and began slowly pacing across the main room. “Never get into a fight with Professor Kishna. Any expert of transformation knows tons of magic they can use to give them a physical advantage over you—and if they know anything about transforming others—” She chuckled as she turned on her heel and paced back towards the center line of the room. “They could make you deaf or blind; they could make it difficult for you to breath; they could make it impossible for one’s nerve impulses to reach your limbs.” Helena shrugged. “Or they could just shut down your circulatory or nervous system and kill you in seconds. Not a pleasant way to go.

“Then there’s my special lady, Professor Sladen. She is by no means an expert Crafter of Dark Energies, but she has constructed some incredible mixtures that can heal whatever is wrong with you, or kill you just as quickly. She usually carries three or four weapons in Hammerspace, most filled with a concoction of her own design, and she’s proficient with each of them.

“And least you think only those of us who specialize in magic are the bad asses of the Aware Witch World, may I turn your attention to Professor Douglas. During The Scouring, when she was a thirteen year old C Level, she took on the Head Sorceress—” Helena raised her left hand and waved dramatically. “—and killed him with normal, simple magic. Because she is imaginative; because she is inventive; because she is that damn good.”

She stopped and faced her students. “Any which who is good and knows what they’re doing can take you on and take you out, and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it. Simply because someone isn’t a user of dark energies doesn’t mean they do you harm. However, being a sorceress does give you an advantage—just make sure you know your opponent and you don’t get too cocky.”

 

It behooves me to mention that during The Scouring, not only did Wednesday take out the Head Sorceress, but Jessica and Erywin also scored their own kills:  Erywin took out a couple of people with a big sci-fi like rifle filled with some of her magic goo that eats the flesh right off your body, and Jessica killed the Headmaster by . . . using transformation magic.  Yeah, that’s what happened.  Since Jessica and Erywin were instructors nothing happened to their files, but dear little Wednesday got something special added to hers:

"But all work and no killing makes Wednesday a dull girl!"

“But all work and no killing makes Wednesday a dull girl!”

But we’ll get into that “something special” in a bit, as Helena is gonna tell them about this spell–

 

Now that she’d told them a lot of information to put what they were about to do into prospective, she moved forward with her lesion. “It’s a given I’m going to teach Morte spells, but that only happens once we’re into the second half of your C Levels, and then further on into your D and E Levels—with the exception of this spell. What we’re going to start on today, and continue working on next week, goes by the name Lightning, as in ‘Calling down the’. It’s actually quite simple because it’s the only Morte spell that requires a foci, and that foci must give off some kind of energy. At the lower, easier levels, you pull from an existing source of magical energy which you may need to fortify with dark energy to craft the spell as true sorcery—and at the higher levels you can pull energy out of something as simple as a light bulb or mobile and focus the power to zap another person.

“The reason for starting you with this one is simple. One, in order to be a true master of this spell you need to learn a higher form of crafting, and you won’t learn those levels unless I invite you into C Level Sorcery. Two, the foci forms we’re using today are much like the forms we use for lighting throughout the school, only those forms are shielded so they can’t be used with this spell, so no worries that you’re going to leave here in a few weeks and start zapping fellow students in your coven commons.

“And three—and the most important part of the lesion—is seeing how you not only handle the crafting and use of the spell. For that not only helps determine if you are the sort of sorceress I want to invite into C Level Sorcery—” She clasped her hands before her as she grinned. “—but if your school record needs a yellow flag.”

Several seconds of silence passed before Leela Kaluwitharana asked the question that had popped up in the minds of several students. “What do you mean by having a yellow flag on your record?”

 

Now we see that what Helena is going to teach the kids is (1) a spell that isn’t one that’s easy to replicate at school, (2) can’t easily be done outside the school without additional learning, and (3) is going to be used by Helena to determine if you should go on to study that additional learning.  There is always a method to Helena’s madness, and this is sort of her “Pushing You Into the Deep End” to see if a student is ready to swim with the sharks.

And while we’ve touched on the whole “yellow flag” stuff before, Helena tells everyone in the room what it means, because unlike you, they’ve never heard of this stuff . . .

 

Helena loosely crossed her arms and began tapping her left forearm with her right index finger. “If any of you have ever pulled up your school records you’ll have seen a colored border around your student image. This is a color coding that we use to determine whether or not a student requires additional scrutiny due to their abilities as a witch. Nearly all of you have what we call green flagged files, which means there’s a green border around your picture. A yellow flagged file indicates that the student not only knows one or more spells that can be used to kill another person—usually Morte spells, but not always—but that they are in full command of that spell, and they can use it at varying levels of power.

“And since I know some of you are wondering and a few will ask—the next level up from that is red flagging. That means one thing: the student in question has used magic to kill another person. And there are a few students here with red flag files: they got them last school year during the Day of the Dead. They’re members of either our Air Assault Group or our Rapid Response Teams, and you’ll never hear them talk about what they did because having to kill someone is a duty that’s not to be taken lightly.”

Helena’s demeanor turned serious and not a little angry. “If I ever heard of any of my dark witches talking up about killing someone, they and I would have a quiet little chat far from the madding crowd, and my displeasure would be known. Fortunately—” She returned a slight nod in response to the two she’d seen. “—I don’t have to worry about that, because I know those I’ve trained, I’ve trained up right. So, if we—”

The distinctive accent of Edelmar Brodney from the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, ran out. “You said almost all of us are green flagged; there’s someone here who isn’t?”

 

Yeah, teach, are there kids in this room who are yellow flagged?  Silly students . . .

 

“That’s correct.” Helena sensed a few students looking in Annie’s direction, but didn’t bother acknowledging. “As I gather nearly all of you want to know your fellow yellow flagged levelmates, I’ll make it easy for you—” She raised her voice a touch. “All students here who are yellow flagged please come forward and stand to my left.”

A moment of silence passed before Annie stepped away from the mass of students, with Kerry a half a step behind. Seconds later they stood next to their instructor, with Kerry situated between the Helena and Annie. The Head Sorceress let out a gasp of mock surprise. “Well, isn’t this unexpected.” She turned back to the rest of the students. “Most of you likely became aware of Annie’s abilities to use Electrify after watching her fight in The Manor—though I’m certain she shocked the shite out of one student—” Helena smirked as she returned Lisa’s angry glare. “—but she also knew, and could control, Exsanguination before arriving at Salem: that means she was yellow flagged as soon as she walked through Founder’s Gate.

“What you didn’t know is that Kerry’s been hard at work learning the same Morte spells—under my guidance, in case someone feels the need to ask and/or complain. The reasons for his instructions are mine, but the end result is that he knows what Annie knows—” She gave him a slight pat on the shoulder. “Which means what Annie knows, he knows.”

 

Helena had to point out the obvious and throw some shade back at the Queen of Ass Covering, which only leads to more shade throwing–

 

“Can he fly, too?” The sarcasm in Franky Smith’s voice was unmistakable.

Kerry answered the question in a quiet yet assured tone. “There’s an easy way to find out, Franky.”

 

Well, there’s a thrown gauntlet if there ever was one.  But wait!

 

Helena glanced to her left and gave Kerry a smile. “Maybe sometime later, huh?”

A loud snort emanated from the student group. “Yeah, when he’s had a bit more training.”

Here we go again. Helena sigh wasn’t heard beyond her and the minions at her side, but she was certain it was seen. “What bug is up your arse this time, Lisa?”

“No bug, Professor.” Lisa made her way to the front of the group. “Only if you’re gonna brag on your brats, at least show us what they can do.” A dark grin spread across her face. “Kerry made the point: only one way to find out if he’s as bad ass as his—” Her face twisted around into a mask of scorn. “Girlfriend.”

The girlfriend was having none of this. “We’re not here to show off for you or anyone else.”

“I’m not talking to you, Annie—remember?” Lisa pointed at Kerry. “But I think we should see this supposed talent before he gets the chance to punk someone in the ring.”

Helena saw what was happening—Lisa was trying to prove Kerry’s abilities before someone, perhaps her, could call him out to The Manor—and she damned herself for opening this door. On the other hand . . . “Okay, then.” She turned to her left. “How do you both feel about giving a practical demonstration?”

 

Once more Helena finds herself in a position where she has to defend her minions–or, is she?  After all, we aren’t seeing what comes next, and as far as defending her choices of minions–well, there’s no need to do that this far into the school year.  Which means that whatever’s coming next–

It’ll likely be interesting.