To the Head of the Class

When I set out to write these stories of Annie and Kerry, I knew one of the challenges was figuring out what kind of classes they were going to attend.  Developing the school was easy:  getting the classes together–all the classes, mind you–was a pain in the butt.

When one is world building one must stick to their rules, because if you don’t you end up having some strange things pop up in your stories–like, say, handing over a time machine to a student so they can go to two different classes at the same time, mostly because you need to use their time machine as a Class Three Deus ex machina to work out your story at the end.  I don’t have any of that in my stories:  the rule I have is that the Peter Capaldi version of The Doctor shows up in the TARDIS and he’s not in a pleasant mood . . .

"Let's go back and kill that bastard Vold--what?  You want a time machine just so you can go to class?  No, no, that's brilliant, Missy.  Just fuckin' brilliant."

“Let’s go back and kill that bastard Voldi–what? You want a time machine just so you can go to class? No, nothing wrong with that.  I mean, that’s brilliant, Missy. Simply fuckin’ brilliant.”

He never really learned to put his Malcolm Tucker side away, it seems.

Getting the classes together hasn’t been an easy thing.  You have a limited number of instructors to teach all the classes, and if someone should die The Foundation dips into their pool from the other schools and hurries someone over to take up duties as quickly as possible, ’cause the last thing you want are a bunch of bored witches hanging around class looking for something to do.  Busy witches are happy witches, or at least that’s something the headmistress wants to believe.  Actually she knows that’s BS, but since Salem prides itself as the best school in the system, they don’t want their kids sitting around with nothing to do for too long, and getting right back into teaching is a good way to get the kid’s minds off of the reason why they have a new instructor.

You’ll see in a few future scenes that when instructors are needed elsewhere at the school, they’ll usually schedule lab time for their kids, and send a minion or two over to keep an eye on things.  And since no one really gets sick here–the last thing Coraline worries about is someone coming down with a cold, ’cause that doesn’t happen unless her little witches are coming back from an extended stay in the Normal world–there’s no need to have a pool of substitutes ready to step in an teach.  If they really have to get a substitute, they get someone in-house to teach.  Just keep it all in the family, so to speak.

Now, about advanced classes . . .

Full disclosure here:  I didn’t come up with the original concept.  The real person upon whom Annie is based was the one who thought up the idea that in a school full of people who could do amazing things, you’d find people in said school who could be even more amazing.  It made sense, so I took her idea and expanded upon the basic premise.  Which is why you have a group of advanced classes, and that the only way you’ll get into those classes is if the instructors of said classes see that you’ve moving well beyond what the rest of the kids in your level are doing, and you need a challenge.

Let’s look at the classes as I have them laid out for the first two years.

Remember this sucker?

Remember this?

Busy witches, happy witches, and for your first two years you stay plenty busy.  There are no advanced classes for the A Levels–well, there aren’t supposed to be:  it was already stated that moving Annie and Kerry into Advanced Spells as A Levels was something that she’d said she’d never do, and Jessica came right out and told her Advanced Transformation class that while a few of them came in as C Levels, there were reasons why she was bringing these two B Levels in . . .

The advanced classes I have set up so far as as such:

Not a lot of advanced students, to be honest.

Not a lot of advanced students, as you see.

The reality about Advanced Flight One is that it’s a carry-over from the A Level’s Basic Flight class:  if Vicky thinks you are good enough to move on, she’ll invite you in.  And if she thinks you’re good enough to move on to Advanced Flight Two during your C Levels, you get moved up.  There are no more flight classes after that:  anything you learn from that point, you learn on your own.  And as seen, if you’re invited in, you don’t have to attend, but that doesn’t mean you’re cut out–Annie’s listed as “Auditing on Demand,” which means she can come in if and when she feels like it, and you’ll see Annie has the same deal going with Vicky’s class.  The only reason she’s not in AF1 is because she’s a casual flyer, something she stated in one of the scenes in this novel.  She’ll leave the navigating and all that to Kerry.  Besides, one of the things you learn in AF1 is PAV Maintenance, and Annie probably already knows how to take care of a broom . . .

The only advanced class for the B Levels not on this list is Advanced Self Defense, and I need to work out the roster for that class.  Needless to say only a few A Levels moved up to that class, and you already know who two of those people are.  Ramona Chai does the same thing Vicky does:  she advances people from the A Level Basic Self Defense class, and they stay with her as long as they like.  It’s no great secret that a lot of people who stick with her through their E and F Levels usually end up working for the Protectors, and a few even go on to work with the Guardians.  The great thing about Professor Chai’s advanced classes is that you’re involved in “practical applications” with homunculi, but even more so than was seen in The Walking Tests scene where my kids laid waste to a bunch of mindless zombies.  At some point in this novel you’ll get to see a “meat puppet”, and find out just how they fit into self defense training.

What’s left after this?  A few things that you only get into after you start taking classes that are offered from the C Levels and up.  There’s Advanced Spirit Studies after Basic Spirit Studies, there’s Advanced Astral Training after Basic Understanding of the Astral Realm, and there are two advanced classes that are offered at Salem and one other school and nowhere else:  Demonology and Necromancy.  What is listed on the class title is what you get;  Demonology is all about the summoning and binding of demons–yes, kiddies, they do exist–and how to kick their asses should it become necessary.  And Necromancy is all about going out and finding the astral essence of people who’ve been dead for a while, whose essence has likely passed beyond The Veil, and bringing said essence back and dumping it into a body.  Necromancers are a dime a gross of a baker’s dozen and are, as you might guess, usually a bit scary to be around.  But if you absolutely, positively, need to bring back a crossed-over spirit, they’re the ones to do the job . . . usually at a Resurrection Center.  Like the CDC.  Where Annie and Kerry were sent . . .

There you have it:  a little more of my madness.  Hey, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy making this stuff.

Schedules to Keep, and Classes to Take Before They Sleep

Here we are, back again with most wordage, because last night I did write, and write a lot–well, eleven hundred words, so that’s a lot for me.  Tonight, probably not as much, because The Third Man is on at 8 PM and I don’t miss that movie, but Saturday I’ll write again.  And again.  And again.

A nice little benchmark was reached last night as well:  the novel went over fifty thousand words.

Fifty and change, but who's really keeping track.

Fifty and change, but who’s really keeping track.

Now, since I do keep track of these things, the novel passed forty thousand words on 14 May, which is–let me do the math–fourteen days before 28 May.  That means I wrote ten thousand or so words in two weeks, or five thousand a week, which is a number I’m pretty steady with.  And if you can keep that up for a year, then you finish with a quarter of a million word novel.  Which is what this should become in time.  Yes, I’m nuts.

Where did we leave off?  With Jessica asking about scary things about people who do transformation magic.  And what do my kids say?  Well . . .

 

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

Kerry was unable to say that he’d noticed this simply because he was only around magic while at school, and didn’t get to see it full time, but Annie was able to comment. “I’ve not only noticed, but I’ve heard stories from my grandparents about Bulgarian shapeshifters.”

“Do you know when they were born?”

“All of them were born in the early 1920s, I believe.”

Jessica brushed her hair back over her shoulders. “Did they go to school here?”

“Yes, they did, save for my mother’s father: he attended a school outside Varna.” Annie half turned towards Kerry as she spoke, getting back on point. “They used to tell me about witches pretending to be vǎrkolak, who would go around frightening and even killing people—”

The word Annie used was something Kerry had never heard before. “What’s that?”

“What’s what?”

“That word: vǎra—”

“Vǎrkolak. It’s a kind of werewolf which is also like a vampire in that it’s supposed to be undead.” She chuckled. “A great number of the stories from our area about the undead and werewolves are actually about witches who were experts with transformation magic.” Annie faced Kerry. “If you hadn’t figured it out, nearly every folk story about strange creatures came about because of transformation magic.”

 

That little bit of research took me about fifteen minutes of looking around, because I wanted to make sure I got the name right.  And as far as Annie’s family tree is concerned–yes, I know exactly when her grandparents on both sides of the family were born.  But yes:  Bulgaria has undead werewolves.  Let that sink in for a bit.

Now that Kerry knows this bit of information–see what having a Bulgarian girlfriend does for you?–he can return to Jessica’s original question–

 

He nodded slowly while his smile grew. “Yeah, I kind of figured that.” He also figured this was the point Jessica was making. “Is that what you meant? About people being scared of people who can do that stuff?”

Jessica nodded. “That’s part of it.” She rested her elbows on her thighs as she leaned forward. “People are always scared by those things that don’t appear normal—and that’s not found just in the Normal community. Even people who are used to seeing unusual things every day are put off by people like me.” She rubbed her fingertips together. “Do you remember the first day of Transformation class last year when I changed into Mystique?”

It was a moment that Kerry remembered well. “Yes. That was pretty great.”

“Thank you: it took me a while to figure out how to do her.” Jessica lowered her voice slightly, even though there wasn’t anyone else in the room who could hear them. “Did you notice the faces of some of the students in the room.”

“Not really: I was—”

“I did.” Once again Annie had the answer Jessica sought. “A lot of the students were shocked.”

Kerry half-shrugged. “That’s to be expected; it’s one thing to see that in a movie, and another to see it in real life.”

“My point exactly, Kerry. I dare say it was the first strange magic everyone in that class saw after arriving at school, and it unnerved a few.” Jessica chuckled darkly. “Didn’t bother you, though.”

“Naw. I mean—” He switched his gaze from Jessica to Annie and back to the instructor. “I’m used to reading about that stuff, so I thought it was sort of cool.”

 

As a kid from a Normal background who is also a big geek, Kerry has a lot of pop culture knowledge, and he’s already joked about people with “mutant powers” at the school.  As Jessica is about to point out, much of that may be the reason for his competency in transformation magic–and his feelings about the “coolness” of this crafting leads her to the main point of this discussion–

 

One of the reasons why he’s likely drawn to transformation magic in the first place. Jessica nodded slowly. “There is a downside to this magic for the person who does the crafting, however. I know you read a great deal: have you ever read All My Sins Remembered?”

He slipped back into his thoughts for a moment. “No. Who’s it by?”

“Joe Haldeman.”

“The guy who wrote The Forever War?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Nope, never read it.”

Jessica found this news a bit surprising, but she didn’t bring Annie and him here to discuss his reading habits. “It’s about someone who works for a galactic organization as a spy, and they spend the majority of their time living as other people then they go out on missions.” A scowl appeared for only a moment. “Having to live as other people and do—things—takes a psychological toll on the main character . . .” She didn’t want to give away the ending in case Kerry decided to read the novel, so she went ahead with the real reason for this talk. “I know the Guardians are interested in you both—”

Annie sighed. “Who doesn’t know this?”

 

At this point Annie’s probably wondering how secret their secret mission was.  Actually . . . pretty secret.

 

“My guess is nearly all the students, and I’m certain a few of them managed to put the clues together. It was impossible not to notice you both meeting privately with Helena and Erywin, and then the four of you vanishing for a weekend . . .” Jessica’s face took on the icy composure she usually maintained during class. “It doesn’t matter: the expressions on your faces are enough to know that you know. And now that you’re both Gifted—” She clicked her tongue twice. “Those gifts are going to come in handy.

“Here’s what I really wanted to bring up: Kerry, the Guardians not only want sorceresses, but anyone with excellent transformation crafting is desired as well. And with you being a Mimic, you’ll likely find them interested in making you an Infiltrator—” Jessica saw the changed come over both children. “—and given the way your expressions changed, it’s obvious you understand what I mean.

“If that’s what they want for you—and for Annie, too, if she proves as good with transformation magic as you—then you’ll find yourself like the character in Sins: always going out on mission having to live someone else’s life. And this is one of the things that scares people who can’t do transformation crafting: how is it possible to change so much and still be yourself?

“And the answer to that is: sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you do lose track of yourself, and it puts a psychological strain on your mind.” Jessica’s expression turned towards one of sadness. “I won’t lie: some excellent transformists have gone insane because they became lost in the people and things they portrayed, and it’s a fear we all run into now and then.”

Her sigh was long and felt as if it were felt with sorrow. “You’re both good kids, and I don’t ever want to see bad things happen to you, so I will give you this little bit of advice: never lose sight of who you are—hold on to your identity.” Jessica finally cracked a smile. “I don’t like to use cartoon philosophy to describe such an important matter, but it works in this instance.”

She reached out and took Annie and Kerry’s hands. “Hold onto your identity and remember who you are, because there’s no one else like you two, and I’d hate like hell to lose either of you.” She gave them both a soft, slight shake. “I’ll show you how to do that the best I can. I promise: I won’t let you get lost.”

 

Yes, children, take the advice of Elastigirl and make sure you keep your identity–though I don’t believe you’ll need to wear masks or anything like that.  This is more in line with Helena’s beliefs that a good sorceress keeps their wits about them, because the chances are they’ve found themselves in the middle of some deep shit, and they need to stay alive.  In Jessica’s case, she’s saying you need to remember who you are when you’re out there pretending to be someone else, because it’s easy to lose your mind.

And now we see another word come up:  Infiltrator.  Since it’s related to the Guardians, we can sorta guess that it has to do with sneaking into places while looking like someone who belongs there.  Or, you know, something even more devious. But being able to look like anyone you want–and being great sorceresses–makes these kids even more valuable to the Guardians.  It’s now a question of whether or not that’s a good thing.  Hummm . . . we’ll see.

One last thing:  yesterday during some discussions in comments the question came up about classes.  Specifically, what classes are the kids taking, and how many are there?  And wouldn’t you know, I have a list:

But then, you knew I had one, right?

But then, you knew I had one, right?

The list on the left is what the kids took during their A Levels, and the list on the right is their current B Level schedules, with all of Annie’s and Kerry’s classes set up in bold.  I’ll speak about this a little more tomorrow, so I’m sort of teasing you with things to come.

Just like I did with the title of this post.

Loss and Change

Some down time and a bit of interesting music is the thing that’s needed to get people back on track.  It helped with me a bit last night, though I still had a few distractions last night, which seems to be a theme with me of late . . .

"Now, Annie's going to throw her arms around--is that a cloud outside my window?"

“Now, Annie’s going to throw her arms around–is that a cloud outside my window?”

More like, “Is that Micheal Clarke Duncan on my television?”  Yes, it was The Green Mile time, and there are so many people I would rather be gone than Micheal.  But as some punk kid out of The Bronx once said, only the good die young.

At the same time I was writing and listening to a lot of ELO, because why not?  I needed to get writing, even if I stumbled about finding the right words.  I do that now, taking my time, stumbling so I don’t have to go back and do a lot of rewrites.  It’s a slow way to get things done, but it keeps me from going back and redoing a lot of stuff later.  Considering the size of this series, I don’t need to do a lot of rewriting.

It took me just under two hundred and eighty words to finish the scene in Astria Portal, but I got it done.  And the results are below:

 

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

“Yes, it is.” He slipped his arms around Annie’s waist. “You know, I missed this place.”

“You did?” She relaxed in Kerry’s arms. “Why?”

“Because of the kiss we shared here the first time.” He half turned Annie so she was leaning against him. “It was the first one that I felt like I should give—” Kerry rested his head against hers. “That first night on the bench I said I thought something was reminding me to give you a kiss—”

She nodded slowly. “Yes, you mentioned that a few days ago.”

“But when we were here, that first time, after you told me about your parents coming here, I just—” Kerry held Annie tight. “I so wanted to kiss you.”

“And—” Annie sighed. “To tell me something else.”

“Yes.” He stepped around to face her, his eyes locked on hers. He kissed her slowly in the soft blue light of his cold fire, holding the kiss for well on to five seconds. The few seconds after Kerry broke the kiss he touched her lips with his left index finger. “You are lovely.”

Even though she knew his statement was coming, Annie felt the same way as she had that night almost a year ago: light headed and weak, her legs and arms vibrating like they were about to cease functioning at any moment. “Oh, Kerry . . .” She pressed herself against him and felt his arms hold her in place. “You do this to me.”

Kerry twisted a few strands of her hair around his fingers. “You’re not gonna, you know—like last time?”

“Faint?” Annie shook her head. “Not this time. But all the other times—here, at the Samhain dance, out at Lake Lovecraft when you finally remembered everything and said you would never leave me . . . She closed her eyes an lay against her soul mate. “I don’t lose control with other students, with instructors, even with my parents. You are the only one who makes me feel this weak.”

She took a moment to stand, holding his hands in each of hers. Annie knew exactly what this looked like: as if they were preparing to say their vows. “When we stopped her last year, it was with the hope that by telling you what my parents did here, I could get you to remember what we had before you sealed me away in your mind. It didn’t, but it brought out something different in you, something that had an effect upon me that I never expected . . .

“I used to think of this tower as the place where my parent came to kiss and let their own romance develop, but I don’t think that any more—” She turned to face the ball of cold fire keeping them bathed in cool, blue light. “This is our tower; this is where our romance, our love, developed in ways I never imagined. This is where I learned how deep your feelings for me could run. This is where I learned how you could affect my feelings . . .”

Annie squeezed Kerry’s hand as she drew him to her. “This is where I learned that, with you, I could lose control.”

 

Annie prides herself in staying in control.  Yes, she’s lost it a couple of times–*cough*Lisa*cough*–and every time she does she almost get into trouble.  So when she told Kerry she doesn’t lose it with students, well . . . he diplomatically didn’t mention some of her worst moments there.

With Kerry, however–he’s making her swoon.  Yes, that’s the term:  swoon.  The first time it happened Annie was down in the dirt; the second time she held on to Kerry for dear life, ’cause passing out while everyone’s standing around you watching you dance is usually considered bad form.

This is Annie, and there’s only one person who make her swoon.  And a swoony Annie is a happy Annie.

I started the next scene, almost twenty-four hours later in the story, and the open of the scene tells you everything you need to know–

 

Unlike the Advanced Formulistic Magic lab, the Advanced Transformation class met in a warm, comfortable room found in the southwest corner of the Transformation Center’s lower level. Kerry learned of the location during lunch, when Professor Kishna approached Annie and him and told him about that evening’s class. She mentioned that she liked having class there because there were a small number of students, they didn’t require a lot of room, and being in that second of the lower levels make it easier to control who had access to the room.

The one thing Kerry took away from the conversation was that, above all, Jessica liked keeping things private.

 

Jessica is a private person:  there’s not a lot known about her, because she doesn’t say much.  She just looks mean and transforms, and when students piss her off she changes them–true story, and something you may get to see in future scenes.

Her newest students show with someone in tow–

 

“They’re from Cerdwen.” Jessica made a face as if she found admitting that information distasteful. “Are you joining us tonight, Annie?”

“Yes and no.” She’d thought hard about appearing tonight, for after telling the professor last year that she wanted to learn advanced transformation magic from Kerry, she wondered if showing up tonight could lead Jessica to think she should try to get Annie to reconsider. “I wanted to see how the first class goes, but at the same time I want to stick to my original plan of having Kerry teach me what he’s learned.” She took Kerry’s hand. “He needs to do that if he’s to be my Dark Witch.”

Jessica nodded, unwilling to comment at this time on Annie’s decision. “Well, you’re welcome to come at any time, just so you know. You’re even allowed to participate, if you like.”

Annie grinned her approval. “Thank you, Professor.”

“Speaking of that—” Kerry slightly bowed his head and spoke in a lower tone. “How should we, um—”

Jessica knew what Kerry was going to ask: they’d already attended enough advanced classes to know how they were conducted. “You can address me by my given name—” She gave Kerry an amused glare. “Unless that makes you uncomfortable.”

He shook his head. “No, not at all . . . Jessica.” Kerry smiled, satisfied he’d actually managed to speak the name. “Thanks.”

“Yes, thank you, Jessica.” Though she knew Kerry liked the transformation instructor, Annie was also aware that he was somewhat intimidated by her. She knew Jessica was far more strict than the majority of instructors and that played up her authoritative side during class, but Annie also remembered all the times when Jessica would complement Kerry and she for not only completing a lesson, but often doing more than expected.

When it came to intimidating instructors, she knew of someone who far better fit that description.

 

Yes, Annie does know a far more intimidating instructor, though it’s true that neither Jessica or Helena have squared off against each other for any reasons.  Too much respect there, I suppose, to get into a throw-down with the Mistress of All Things Dark.  Also, Jessica’s the most senior Coven Leader after Erywin, so maybe she doesn’t want to blow that image of being a respected elder.

Then again, it is known she transformed into a large, viscous animal and mauled a former Headmaster to death, so, you know, her rep is pretty secure.

Annie being there–that’s to satisfy her curiosity.  Or is it?  Won’t say at this point, but she’s there now, and as she states, that won’t always be the case.  This will be the first time these two have classes apart, though, again, that won’t always happen.  What do I mean?  Just wait.

In the end I was just short of nine hundred and fifty words written.  Not bad for a few distractions while looking for the right words.  Tonight, after work, it’s Face Zapping Time, so expect there to be some pictures of a swollen face tomorrow.

And some more writing.  I promise.

Portals To and Fro

Happy Towel Day, and you best keep it handy because you never know when the Earth is about to be demolished to make way for a hyperspace exchange, right?  Mine’s actually out in the car, because after I’ve finished my writing day at Panera–my current location–I’ll take the computer home and head out to see Mad Max:  Fury Road, because I like to see my action movies done right–Hollywood could learn a few things from these flicks,but no, we’d rather show you stupid toy robot movies–and with a big shot of estrogen.  Also, I have nothing else to do today, so I may as well see a movie that I’ve waited to see for a while.

I’ll throw this out here, because why not, but I was hit on this morning, right around six twenty-five AM.  I’ just sitting here, getting ready to listen to music, when a guy comes up, tells me he’s seen me in here a few times, and wants me to know I look nice today.  I thank him and then sort of wonder how I should feel about that, because it did seem a touch on the skeevy side, but what do I know?  I did have one person on-line tell me it’s an indication of my brightness–

Like a supernova:  a burnt-out star that's exploding.  Um, yay?

Like a supernova: a burnt-out star that’s exploding. Um, yay?

But so much for today–what abut yesterday?

Much of the writing from yesterday you’ve already seen:  it was part of the excerpt from The Lovey Dovey Couple’s Adventures in Advanced Chemistry.  About six hundred and fifty words was written in the morning before the post, and yesterday I manage another six hundred sixty for the next scene.  I might have written more, but BBCA was showing a Battlestar Galactica Miniseries and Season One marathon, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that, so I had, just had, to divide my attention between the two.  Since both my kids carry the call signs of characters from that television series, you know I’m gonna get down with watching, particularly since that season was so damn good.  Oh, and if you can tell me the in-joke found in one of the episodes that ties back to the anime Bubblegum Crises, I’ll let you guest post here.  Don’t take too long, though . . . start the clock!

Oh, and I finally tried on the sundress I bought a couple of weeks ago, ’cause it was getting warm in the apartment and I wanted to see how it felt–

As you can see, I'm ready for Wednesday.

As you can see, I’m ready for Wednesday.

But writing, right?  It’s coming.

We’re back to the kissing stuff now, because this story is really about kissing and things like that.  What about the magic?  Replace “magic” with “televisions”, and you’ll realize most of the time no one talks about the TVs because, well, they’re part of the background.  So far we’ve seen one class, and they weren’t doing anything but playing at getting antiquated.  It’s really not until about midway through the next chapter that you see any actual instruction, and not until the chapter after that you see what’s really going on inside a classroom.

It’s all about the kissing–and so where does that take us today?

 

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

The sun wouldn’t set for another half hour, making the sky semi-bright and the shadows long. Annie was used to seeing this part of the school at this time of day—or much later—because Kerry and she were on the path leading to the Observatory, where their Astrophysics One was set to begin in forty-five minutes.

As they did so many times last year, they walked along the north path that led from the Memory’s End to the Firing Line and the Observatory. The midway point of the walk passed through the last remaining portion of the old North Wall and the ancient observatory, Astria Portal. It was here that the school witches first began seeing the sky in a different way; where Astria Blomqvist, one of the Founders and the first leader of Cernunnos Coven, created her maps of the constellations; and it was here she spent the last few decades of her life prior to her disappearance and death, making her the only one of the Founders not interned in some fashion on the school grounds. All that remained for remembrance was her coven, her sky maps, and the centuries-old tower that bore her name.

For Annie, this structure meant so much more.

 

Since I actually know the history of Astria Blomqvist–what?  You didn’t think I did?  Ah, hahahaha!–one day it’ll show up in one of the novels.  Which one?  Hard to say, but I know it’ll get discussed.  It reminds me that I need to have the kids visit all the other locations where the Founders are either buried or remembered, ’cause nothing says “Thanks for the School” like keeping a few three hundred year old bodies buried on the property.

This was an important place for Annie, because in the first novel she mentioned that her parents used to come to this place to snog.  Like parents like daughter, huh?  Now, this place is a ruin, and when it comes to three hundred year old ruins, no one bothers putting in lighting.  Which means you gotta bring your own . . .

 

They were half way up the staircase to the mezzanine when Annie tugged Kerry to a stop. “Here’s your chance.”

“Yes.” He chucked as he slowly raised his left hand. “You sure you don’t want to get on my right side?”

Annie shook her head. “That’s for the other girls.” She motioned him onward. “Go ahead: you can do this.”

 

It only took about four hundred and seventy-five thousand words, but this is the first time Annie admits that she knows she’s the only girl who ever stands to Kerry’s left, and that his right side is  reserved for everyone else.  Coraline was the first to bring it up to Kerry, and now Annie is telling him she knows.

Actually the first person to point this out was Emma, when she and Kerry were talking while taking a rest at the Observatory–call sign Laputa–during the Day of the Dead.  She must have been paying a lot of attention to him for some reason . . .

What is Kerry trying to do?  This:

 

“I can—” After about five seconds of concentration a tiny blue ball appeared hovering over his upturned palm. It expanded until it was it was twenty centimeters across, filling most of the empty tower with a soft glow. He turned to Annie and finished his comment. “—do this.”

“You most certainly can.” She looked towards the ceiling. “Now, put it in place.”

Kerry levitated the ball of cold fire about three meters over his head as they climbed the rest of the way to the former mezzanine commons, then pushed it out over the open below. “There, how’s that?”

Annie patted him on the arm before wrapping herself around it and leaning into his shoulder. “I never doubted the levitation—” She stared at the ball floating in mid-air. “But I only stared showing you the cold fire spell back in May, and we’ve only had a couple of chances to practice it a few times Friday and yesterday.”

He kissed her lightly on the lips. “I have a good teacher.” He stared at the floating ball as well. “When we practiced yesterday it just seemed to gel, you know?”

“I do.” She’d experienced moments like that as well, when a spell’s crafting simply came to her and she knew it would work. More than a few of those moments came during Advanced Spells last year . . .

She moved around until she was facing Kerry. “Here we are again.”

“Yes, it is.” He slipped his arms around Annie’s waist. “You know, I missed this place.”

 

Annie taught herself Cold Fire from a book, and we saw her using it to light up the second floor during the B and C Level Get Together the night the A Levels arrived, and now we see Kerry not only using it the same way, but admitting that he learned the spell from Annie.  According to my spell list Cold Fire is something that the kids here don’t start learning until they’re C Levels, but Annie was already teaching it to Kerry before they were out of their A Levels.  No question this is why they’re in the advanced classes . . .

I’m slowly inching towards fifty thousand words, and if I had to guess, that milestone is likely to happen not in the next scene, but the one after–

Always a good time to ask for something after class.

Always a good time to ask for something after class.

But I really want to get to the last scene in this chapter because . . . well, you’ll see.

Probably later in the week at the rate I’m going.

Their New Chemical Romance

My computer, aka The Beast, has been a pain in the butt this morning, deciding to run hot and cold, fast and slow, and at one point I had to reboot the sucker because of program load issues.  It’s almost like it’s telling me to take it easy today . . .

Pretty much me then and now.

Pretty much me then and now.

You are not the boss of me, evil old computer.  I’ll write on you as much as I like.  Just let me, you know, do that.  Thanks.  Onward.

Chapter Seven has become a thing–well, it’s started, is what I mean.  With the first scene out of the way, I’m about three thousand words from rolling over to fifty thousand, and that will likely happen during the quick chapter on the advanced transformation class.  This first scene took a little bit of work–slow, writing work–because when I have to start describing things and feelings and all that, it seems to drag.  Just like when I write action:  it may seem fast and furious, but not when you have to sit and figure it all out.  Nope, nope, nope.  Who said writing was a lot of fun?

I did mention that Erywin was the first to set up a special program for advanced students at the school, and that the advanced lab is used by no one else but advanced students.  Just like The Black Vault her pretty girl keeps safe, Erywin feels you only get to the top when it’s earned, and while everyone else has super great facilities–compared to what you’d find in a Normal chemistry class, the Salem equipment is the top o’ the pop–they don’t get their own special lab.

Of course, guess who gets to join this afternoon delight?

 

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

Annie entered the room, followed closely by Kerry. Both were still in their school uniforms; as with the other advanced classes street clothes were the norm, but Erywin was also aware that they had Astrophysics One right after dinner, and she supposed they figured it would be too much trouble to change back into their uniforms for Harpreet’s evening class.

“Welcome.” Erywin headed over to greet her newest students. “I figured you’d show about now.”

Annie clutched her hands. “We’re nothing if not punctual.”

Kerry took up position beside his girlfriend. “We hate being the last ones to show. Right, Sweetie?”

She leaned into him. “As always, my love.” She straightened and smiled. “How are you today . . . Erywin.”

“Oh, I’m fine.” She felt Annie’s hesitation due to not knowing if the familiarity they had not only in Wednesday’s class, but on their mission during the last school year, was the same here. “And you don’t have to worry: just like the other advanced classes, we’re on a first-name basis here.” Erywin examined the student’s jackets. “How do you like the new accouterments?” She touched the left lapel of Annie’s jacket. “Bit of an improvement, eh?”

Kerry spoke while Annie beamed. “It’s a bit of an improvement over last year, that’s for sure.” In place of the single green star that indicated they were A Levels were now two green stars, one placed over the other. “I noticed the C Levels on our floor have three in a triangle.”

“Yes, and in your D Levels they’ll form a diamond.” Erywin pointed across the room where she’d had two lab stations placed together. “That’s your set-up over there. Go ahead and take a seat.”

 

And just so you know, the E Levels’ stars form a pentagram, and the F Levels’ form a Seal of Solomon, both of which are powerful symbols.  I actually laid out pictures of this one–you back there, stop laughing!–so I should dig them out . . .

Oh, look.

Oh, look.

There you go:  green star markers for my kids.

During their set up time at their lab station–which is the only one set up for two people, go figure–they get a visitor and learn something . . .

 

“No, they aren’t.” They turned to find a slim, older student in a dark green dress standing behind them. She bushed her brown hair back from her face. “I suppose Erywin wants you to work together—probably due to your reputation.” She nodded towards them. “I’m Nesreen Shalhoub.”

Annie nodded back. “Annie Kirilova.”

“Kerry Malibey.” He began grinning. “Though you probably knew that if you know us by reputation.”

“Sorry about that.” She appeared almost embarrassed to speak. “I’m from Blodeuwedd; last year we used to hear about you all the time from Fidele and Collin—

“Collin talked about us?” Kerry was a little surprised to hear this. Annie and he figured Fidele Diaz, their levelmate from the Philippines, was the one who began calling them the “Lovely Dovey Couple”, but this was the first time either of them heard mention of Collin McCarty, the boy from Eire, discussing them as well.

“A great deal.” The girl nodded twice. “It seemed to be one of their main subjects of conversation in the commons.”

“Maybe that’s the real reason Collin didn’t return.” Annie smirked sideways at Kerry before questioning Nesreen. “How long have you been in this class?”

 

There’s that Lovey Dovey Couple crap that follows them around like a personal demon.  And keep that meme out there, Annie, that Collin didn’t return because he didn’t want to face your wrath, ’cause like Helena said, nothing like having a bad ass rep while you’re in school to keep the losers from bothering you.  Gee, I wonder what they were saying?  Obviously, if a then E Level heard their BS, that means a whole lot of the rest of the coven did as well.

Speaking of meeting new people–

 

“It was one of the reasons The Foundation wanted to get involved in magic, to find out how it could be used for scientific and technical applications.” Erywin turned and brought her companion forward. “Oh, and this is Honza Zelenka, one of your covenmates from the floor above you.”

“I’m an E Level.” He shook Kerry’s hand, then Annie’s. ”I heard Nesreen speaking; she’s not the only one who’s heard of you.” He looked at Annie. “Mluvíte Česky?”

She tilted her head slightly to the right and shrugged. “Ne moc dobře. Jak je váš Bulgarian?”

Honza twisted his right hand back and forth. “Tova ne e losho. Ne razbiram mnogo ot shans da go govori, vse pak.”

Annie half-turned her head to the left. “Tova e dobre za nyakoĭ, koĭto ne go govori chesto.” She turned to the smiling Kerry, who was used to hearing his sweetheart speak in her normal language. “I’ll tell you later.”

“Preferably after class.” Erywin say that all her students were present. “All right—” She waved the door shut. “Find your seats and we’ll get started.”

 

Now wait for the first Welsh student to show up, and Kerry will have his hands full–particularly since he’s not a native speaker.  Also, what is Kerry hearing Annie say besides, “I love you”?  We know that Annie switches over to Bulgarian when she swears, so he can probably tell through the tone of her voice when she’s muttering sweet Bulgarian nothings in his ear, and she’s ready to rip off someone’s head.

After introductions and a promise that Erywin’s gonna visit everyone, she gets with the kids to tell them how things work in this class:

 

“All right, you two.” Erywin set her elbows against the stations and leaned forward. “We do things a little differently here, but then you already knew that. The biggest in this class is that we involve ourselves in month-long projects, so what we start today you aren’t expect to complete until the last Monday in September—which means you have four classes to turn in your completed project.”

She had their attention, so having them understand the new world they’d entered was going to be easy. “We’re all about creating here. The idea is to teach you to create, to develop the formulas for your mixtures from scratch, based upon what you’ve already learned—”

“That’s a lot different from what we did last year.” While Kerry didn’t appear worried, his voice carried a hint of concern.

Annie felt the same way, but she also knew another truth. “But we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t felt we couldn’t do this, dear.” She lightly touched his hand. “Yes?”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

Erywin turned to Kerry: while Annie carried her own doubt now and then, he was the one who sometimes found himself falling into traps his mind laid. “Do you remember the very first mixture you created last year?”

“Yes.” He gazed at the surface of the counter as he thought about that class. “The petrification removal mixture.”

“That’s correct. Out of thirty-two student only three managed to produce it correctly. And only two decided to make it using the more complex alternate formula.” Erywin chuckled. “Listen to your significant other: you’re here not only because I believe you can do the work, but because you’ve proven me correct.

“What I want you to remember is you aren’t only here to learn, you’re here to think. You didn’t come to Salem to take tests and memorize data; you’re here to develop your mind into a first-class instrument. That’s what we do in this class—we get you to thinking.” She lightly tapped them both on the forehead, eliciting smiles. “It’s the thinkers who are gonna run this world, not the test takers. And I know which ones you’re becoming.”

 

In this world there are doers and thinkers, and the thinkers are gonna win every time, ’cause they’re outside the box lookin’ in, and that gives them all the advantages.  It seems like this is some pretty heavy shit for a couple of twelve year old kids to get into, but there’s something you, the reader, will discover in–um, I think two novels from now–that explains this.  Magic is tied into imagination, but the ability to use it also ties back to intelligence, and while some of these witches might seem dumb, it’s because they’re still kids.  Give them a few years to mature and get their wits about them–

It’s already been shown that can be the different between life and a hard death.

Randomly Building a World Class Class

I often talk about how writing isn’t always just writing.  Often there’s a great deal of research for just simply things, as I’ve discussed before.  Sometimes you gotta figure out where people are walking around a city.  Sometime you need to investigate hotels and other points of interest.  Sometimes you need to figure out flights from city to city.

Sometimes you just gotta build a class.

I’m starting Chapter Six now, and this and Chapter Seven go over events in the first week of school.  Here’s the scenes for Chapter Six:

Five scenes, no waiting.

Five scenes, no waiting.

Now, if you know my school, you’ll see that three take place in classes, two of which are the new advanced classes.  Astria Porta is another of those “kissing scenes,” and we have to read it, and After Class Request–well, you can probably figured that out if you know classes starts on Monday, and that’s a few days later.  As stated, two of these scenes take place in the advanced classes–the first scene should make that obvious as hell–but while walking home over the last few days, the question kept coming up:  who’s in these classes?

Well . . . I had to do something about that.  Let’s look at Advanced Formulistic Magic . . .

Right off the bat I knew I’d have one student in the class who was an F Level, and I decided I wanted them to come from a North African country.  I picked Libya, because why the hell not.  With her–yes, the girls still well outnumber the boys–graduating at the end of year, that meant she’d head off on a year of her Real Life Experience, then she’d leave for college.  She wants to go to a school with a great engineering program, so I found a link for the top engineering colleges in the world, figure out she’d go to a school in Europe, looked up the schools there, found one, found the undergrad and graduate programs offered, and figured out what this young lady was going to do for the next few years of her life.

That was the easy part.

Besides this mystery girl and Annie and Kerry, I needed . . . hum . . . five more students to show up for class.  The question became one of where do their come from–

So I got out my dice.

Not really.  As I’ve pointed out I have a dice rolling program.  Why do I have one of those?  It’s a hold over from my gaming days, where dice are used to generate random outcomes for your characters.  Like, did I knock down a door?  Did I drive the car at high speed correctly?  Did I shoot the bad guy in the head?  You know, fun stuff.

The splash screen looks like this:

Bunch of electronic dice, no waiting.

Bunch of electronic dice, no waiting.

You may ask yourself, “What’s the D4 crap?  And D8?”  More gaming stuff, so let me tell you.  D stands for dice, and the number that follows indicates the sides to that dice.  So a D4 has four sides, a D8 is eight-sided, a D6 you know and love from your crap shooting days, a D20 is the dice of choice of D&D geeks, and a D100 is usually two ten sided dice of different colors–one for your ten count, the other for your ones count–used to generate a percentage.  I say “usually”, because I have seen a one hundred sided die, which pretty much looked like a golf ball with numbers painted in each of the divots.  Thing was hell to read, let me tell you.

So the break down went like this:  as there are six continents from which students can arrive, I used a D6 to figure out where their country was located, with the intention of ignoring Antarctica because non of the students at Salem are magical penguins.  Right off the bat I rolled Australia, but since it’s part of the world known as Oceania, I looked for countries in that area, using different kinds of dice to narrow down the search until I found a place the student called home.

Do that enough and you have the homes of five students.  I figured on two of these kids being D Levels and three being E Levels, then I used a D10 to figure out their coven–a roll of 1 or 2 was Åsgårdsreia, 3 or 4 was Blodeuwedd, and so on–before using another D10 to figure out their gender.  Since it’s about four girls to one boy, a roll of 1 to 8 on a D10 meant a girl, a 9 or 10 was a boy.  Once I’d narrowed down gender and country, I brought up Scrivener’s Name Generator, began plugging in nationalities, and before you know it I had my people.

Welcome the 2012/2013 Class of Advanced Formulistic Magic.

Bunch of students who'll one day be making your world a better place.

Bunch of students who’ll one day be making your world a better place.

Nesreen’s college of choice will be Delft University in Delft, The Netherlands, situated between Den Haag and Rotterdam, and you can see she’s going to get a Bachelors of Science in Molecular Science & Technology, and a Masters in NanoScience, both of which are actual courses at Delft.  The Euro kids have finally edged out the African kids, but you never know who Erywin might bring into the class next year.

When I rolled up the Czech Republic, I knew the family name of the kid would be Zelenka, meaning one day he’ll probably end up in the Pegasus Dwarf Galaxy looking for Atlantis, which is an in-joke of mine–but wait!  Remember Professor Semplen, the Coven Leader of Cernunnos and also a citizen of the Czech Republic, tried out his Bulgarian on Annie when they first met, and here we have another person from there–and a covenmate as well–and what do you think he’s gonna try?  That conversation is at the bottom of my notes, with Honza first speaking to Annie in Czech, and then her replying in the same before he and she switched over to a snippet of Bulgarian, and you will see this in the scene.

I’ll need to do this for Kerry’s Advanced Transformation class as well, and maybe I’ll do the same for his Advanced Flight One–that will be easy, as I already know who all the B Levels are–and for Annie and Kerry’s Advanced Self Defense Class.  I may even do that today, since it’s not like I have a hell of a lot to do other than write.

Now you see some of the fun things I do just to make my world fell like a real world . . .

The New Paradigm

A bit more back in the grove last night, but only a bit–does nine hundred and eighty-nine words count as a groove?  Not too bad.  The scene severed it purpose and set up things for my kids, as evidenced by the title of this post.

One more scene exists for Chapter Five, and while thinking it through last night I realized:  it’s so far taken three chapters and about twenty-five thousand words to cover the six days since the kids left home and returned to school–and at the moment it’s only the Saturday before class begins.  Maybe forty-four thousand words will flow under the writing bridge before the first day of class begins–

Which reminds me:  the next couple of days will see me setting up the class rosters for two of the advanced classes since it would be nice to see with whom Annie and Kerry are attending those classes.  We may never see them, but I like to know they are there.  We’ll see a couple of those popping up in the next couple of chapters.

hold

Astria Porta?  The last time the kids visited that spot there was kissing.  Is this another kissing part?  Do we have to read it?

Kids, we read all the kissing parts.  And speaking of kissing . . .

Magical Kidlettes are resting on the easy chairs, and they were starting to discuss their ordeals.  Which sorta leads to this:

 

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

She noticed how slow and deliberate his movements were. “How are you feeling, my love?”

“Kinda sore all over.” He laced his fingers into hers. “I’ve never done that much in a few hours.”

Annie could empathize. While she was good with levitation, she’d felt the exertion. I suppose he was doing a number of changes quickly, and some of it wasn’t easy. “What’s important is you did. We both did.” She leaned over the arm of her chair and kissed his hand. “You do know that a year ago tonight were walked through Founder’s Gate?”

“Oh, yeah.” He leaned towards Annie. “It was the second thing I thought of this morning.”

“Really?” Annie grinned. “What was the first?”

“Ummm . . .” He moved closer and closer to Annie’s chair. “A girl with a cute accent.”

“You think my accent is cute?”

“One of many things . . .” He covered the last few centimeters between them and lightly brushed his lips against hers—

 

See?  Kissing.  If Honest Trailers ever did one for this story they’d rename the story, “Magic . . . and kissing.”  Probably followed by, “When the f@#k do these kids do any magic?  They’re always kissing.  Get a room, huh?”  They’re workin’ on it, Trailer Guy.

And Annie has a cute accent?  I know someone who doesn’t think it’s all that cute.  But as long as Kerry does, that’s all that matters.  It’s such a cute accent, he’s gonna cover it up–with his mouth.  There’s that kissing again . . .

 

“Ah, hem.”

They both turned towards the front of the room and faced the origination of the throat clearing. Standing between Professors Kishna and Salomon was a short, dark woman with long dark hair that reached to the middle of her back. Annie and Kerry had met Professor Tristyn Julin, the head of the Gift Department and the Applying Powers instructor, when they’d entered the building for testing, as this area was the South African instructor’s realm.

Professor Julin sat as Jessica and Vicky took positions to her left and right. “Well, I finally get to see the Lovey Dovey Couple in action inside my own department building.” She chuckled. “I feel honored.”

Both students returned their chairs upright. Kerry tried to look appropriately embarrassed: this wasn’t something that Kishna or Salomon hadn’t seen before, but he didn’t know the new professor outside of seeing her at special school functions and the Midnight Madness. “Sorry, Professor.”

 

You know it’s bad when an instructor you’ve never met before calls you by one of your school-wide nicknames–and does so in her own building in a semi-humorous way.  With your other instructors standing there as well.  Next to her.  Watching you.

But look at Annie:  does she seem bovvered?

 

Annie didn’t mind being seen: their reputation were well known throughout the school, and if the new professor hadn’t wanted them together that way, then something should have been said. Instead, she wanted to get to the results of their testing. “I take it you’ve examined the data?”

Julin chuckled and exchanged looks between her fellow instructors. “You were right: she does get right to business.” The Gifts instructor nodded slowly. “Yes, you two: we have completed examining the results of your data.” She glanced at something on her tablet, leaned forward. “I’m going to turn this over to Victoria and Jessica, as this really falls under their purvey as far as instruction goes—

Both children grew more attentive upon hearing this last statement. Kerry turned to Annie. “Does this mean—”

Vicky spoke up, taking over the conversation. “Yes, it does, Kerry.” She looked straight at Annie. “We’ve confirmed that you personally weren’t levitating and that you have the Flight gift. I’ll set up an appointment with Isis so she can start training you.”

“Of course, Vicky.” Annie remembered that Isis was the only person at school who could fly, and that she would be responsible for all the hands-on training elements. “When will that begin?”

 

Annie not only gives zero shits if she’s caught with her lips locked around her soul mates, but she called a professor by her first name in front of other professors.  Now . . . that could be due to school not officially starting–in the next scene it’s started that it’s Saturday after their arrival–or it could be due to getting real chummy with other instructors over the last year.  Either way, Annie gets the lowdown from Vicky:

 

“No right away: I’ll leave that up to Isis to set up a schedule. Most of it will occur on Friday mornings, but it won’t be every Friday, and sometimes you’ll work on other dates.” Vicky turned to Kerry. “For the first class, however, I want you there.”

“Me?” He was somewhat surprised to be asked.

“Yes, you. I want you to act as Annie’s chase when the time comes.” She eyed him carefully. “You know what that is?”

He grinned. “You want me to follow and watch her when she’s flying.”

Vicky nodded. “Yep. Since you’re in Advanced Flight, and already qualified to fly solo outside the school walls, it’s a no-brainer that we want you to act as Annie’s chase.”

It made a great deal of sense to Kerry. He’d not only be able to help if the need arose, but he knew Annie, and he might see things in how she performed that might indicate how she was feeling. “Okay, no problem.” He reached out for Annie’s hand, which appeared for him to touch. “We’ll do this.”

“Great. I’ll leave it to Isis to tell you how she wants things done.” Vicky leaned forward and looked across Tristyn to the Transformation instructor and coven leader. “Jess?”

 

Kerry gets to play chase plane for Annie, which is fun, fun, fun.  Actually, it means he gets to spend time outside the walls with Annie, even if they are in the air for all of that.  This is actually going to lead to one of the scenes I’ve seen in my head that I so want to write, but probably not for another fifty or sixty thousand words.  Don’t worry:  they get to do a lot of flying this year, mostly with Kerry just following and being quite.  Maybe he’s training for marriage?   Hi ho!

If Jessica is getting called, then that means there must be some news for Kerry, right?

 

She nodded. “Kerry, we have the same conformation for you: it would appear you have the Mimic gift, which means if you weren’t all ready in Advanced Transformations, I’d moving you in from the regular class.” Jessica sat back and crossed her legs. “Now, as you’ll need to learn how the spells work along with being able to apply the Mimic gift to the appropriate ones, I’ll work with you one-on-one for a bit each class.” A bright grin appeared on her face. “Given your propensity to learn magic quickly, I imagine you’ll have a mastery of basic Mimicry before Yule.”

Professor Julin folded her hands across her stomach and pressed her thumbs together. “Though you’re not officially part of the Gifts program—because your Gifts are only a small part of what you can do—we’ll be here to help out when possible, such as coordinating with Doctor Gallagher when it’s necessary to perform medical exams.” Annie and Kerry both smiled: it was unusual to hear another member of the staff call Coraline “Doctor Gallagher”, a title she never used herself unless it was absolutely necessary. “We probably won’t see you down here too often—”

Jessica chuckled. “Unless either of you spawn another Gift.”

Tristyn nodded. “It’s rare, but it sometimes happens.”

Annie slowly shook her head. “I think—” She lanced back to Kerry, who was still holding her hand. “—one gift apiece is enough for us both.”

 

None of the “Nurse Coraline” stuff here:  apparently the head of Mutant Studies–one of the nicknames for the Gifts Department–ain’t down with the school doctor not referring to herself as the school doctor.  Now, Coraline does call herself the school doctor, or Chief Medical Officer, when necessary, but she got used to the nurse handle before she had to take over medical duties at school suddenly, and just never got out of the habit.

There we have it:  witches, sorceresses, and now they are down with their mutant powers.  We’ll see how those play out in future scenes, but it’s gonna be fun.  More or less.