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 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.