Along the Shore of The Foundation Pond

Thursdays are never a good writing night for me.  I was tired, for one, and actually napped sometime around six-thirty.  Then Singin’ in the Rain came on, and though I’ve seen that movie maybe a dozen times, I can’t turn away from its greatness.  The lateness of the hour plus being sort of out of it night resulted in just under six hundred words being written–

Ah, but it’s a great set up.

The title of this post refers to something said a long time ago by Nadine when she first started to tutor Kerry for the Ostara Performance.  She downloaded sheet music from their Internet, and mentioned that if it had been created, The Foundation had access.  Her comment at the time was, “Welcome to the Pond,” meaning here was the place where one could find everything The Foundation had their fingers upon.

It’s also a secretive little place as well, a much smaller location within the gigantic ocean that is the world as a whole.  That’s because The Foundation has things that no one else does, and for now they’re keeping it pretty much too themselves.  Like, you know, being able to heal even the worst injuries over night–like what’s happened to a certain kid from Cardiff a few times during the course of this story, or the repairs made to the broken arm and cracked skull that his girlfriend received some time back.

Just imagine what the world would be like if everyone had that.

"Should I release one of our cures this week, or let the conspiracy theorists keep at it a few years more?"

“Should I release one of our cures this week, or let the conspiracy theorists keep at it a few years more?”

Here is what I wrote about Salem’s particular place in that pond.  Witches have gathered, but they’re not standing around a cauldron; it’s more like they’re relaxing comfortably while waiting for someone . . .

 

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

Mathilde closed the door to the First Floor Library in the Instructor’s Residence, gently pushing it against the frame until she heard the latch snap closed. She turned back to the other women assembled in the room with her. “I’m glad we didn’t have many students to meet tonight.” She sighed as she retook her seat. “It’s been a long day.”

“Graduation Day is always long.” Wednesday stretched her legs out before her and pushed her arms over her head. “It’s bad enough we have to get all dressed up—”

“Something you should do more often.” Jessica removed her heels and flexed her toes. “You’re so adorable when you look like an adult.”

Wednesday began laughing with a couple of the other instructors in the room. Besides being the youngest instructor in the room, she was also the one who still looked the most like a student. “Yeah, well, how about you kiss my ass, Jess? The kids don’t seem to mind, and neither does Isis. Besides, I ain’t an ex-model like you—”

“I can show you how to become one.”

“Maybe tomorrow.” She adjusted here skirt and crossed here legs. “I want to finish this up and take a long, hot, soaking bath.”

Erywin, who was sitting to Wednesday’s right, nodded. “Same here. I want to get undressed and into my night clothes and spend the rest of the evening snuggling.”

Sitting all the way to the left of the collected group of women, Helena chuckled. “I know how my time will be spent tonight.”

“Isn’t it spent that way most evenings?” Erywin turned to her right, where Mathilde sat. “It is a bit disappointing to have only four students tonight. I had hoped for a slightly larger selection this year.”

“Better four great students than eight mediocre ones.” Mathilde checked her smart phone display, which remained black. “At least we have two out of the way—”

“And two to go.” Jessica ran a long nail across the tip of her nose. “Saved the best for last, no?”

Wednesday nodded. “I’d say so.”

The screen of Mathilde’s mobile came on and she checked the message. “They’re here.” She turned to the women assembled upon her left. “Before we start, I have to ask: are you certain this is what we want?”

Erywin nodded. “We’ve discussed this for four days: it’s decided.”

“It has.” Wednesday folder her hands into her lap. “You know what I think.”

“It’s what I want to do as well.” Ramona Chai slipped her feet back into her low heels. “I don’t see a problem.”

Mathilde nodded. “Jessica? Vicky?”

The Mistress of Transformation leaned forward so she could see the headmistress better. “You know what I’ve said all along.”

Vicky shrugged and nodded once. “As well as with me. And there’s the other matter—”

“Yes, I know, Vicky.” Mathilde nodded back. “We’ll get to that tonight as well.” She eyed the last silent person in the room. “Helena? No opinion?”

“Only the same one I’ve given you for the last week.” She leaned against the right arm of her over-sized chair and crossed her legs. “It’s the same one I’d give you now.” Helena pointed at the phone near the headmistress’ right hand. “Now that you know the answer, go on and bring them in.”

Mathilde picked up the phone and held it close. “Send them up.” She set the phone aside as she stood and moved toward the door to great the new guests.

 

Astute people will recognize that not all these women are coven leaders–there are only two, in fact–and there are a two people here who seem a little out of place, namely Ramona and Vicky.  And why is Helena here?  Is she holding down the Guardian fort?  In this last moment of producing this post I suddenly realized:  I should actually model this library, because I want to see the scene–

And this won’t be the last time we visit this location.

Living in Pond Life

First off, a good Ramadan to all my Muslim readers, and I know I have a few because–well, because.  That’s one of the great things about reaching out around the world:  you touch everyone.  Pretty soon I’m gonna have to keep track of things everywhere, and imagine how busy I’ll get then.

The second bit of good news is Chapter Fifteen is finished.  The last scene waited for me, and after taking a long nap in the afternoon I decided I was going to bring it all to a close, because I got more chapters to write and I need time to write them, I got to work.  It was just a little over twelve hundred words, so no big deal, right?

With all these First Drafts I could run a good race at Daytona.

With all these First Drafts I could run a good race at Daytona.

The idea behind the last scene was getting Kerry set up with the music tutor Professor Ellison promised him all the way back in Chapter Ten.  Kerry gets to the practice room a little early mostly because that’s normal for him, and also . . . well, let’s find out, shall we?

 

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

There were a half dozen keyboards in the room, as well as a couple of drum machines. One of the keyboards was a dedicated electronic piano, but the other five could probably play just about anything once hooked up to the two racks of MIDI controllers in the corner. You’d run out of hands before you’d run out of sounds.

He spun around as the door opened, and gasped when he saw who it was: Nadine from the Advanced Spells class. “Hey, how you doing?” She waved the door shut and tossed her book bag into a corner. “Surprised?”

“Yeah.” Kerry set his backpack down next to her book bag. “How come you didn’t say anything the other night?”

“’Cause I didn’t find out about this until yesterday.” She smoothed down her skirt and tugged at the sleeves of her thermal undershirt. “I knew I was going to get someone to tutor a couple of weeks ago, but Professor Ellison didn’t tell me until after class on Thursday.” She smirked. “I think he was going to give me to someone else, but after you got dumped into The Pond last week, he decided to put us together.”

Kerry could almost hear the capitalization of Nadine’s terms for advancing out of your first level. “Does everyone call everything above A Levels The Pond?”

“Pretty much.” She wiggled the fingers of her right hand and a brush appeared, floating in mid-air. Nadine grabbed it and combed her hair as she spoke. “I’ve heard Sladen and Kinshna call it the same thing, and they’ve both been here like forever—Sladen in particular.” She made the brush vanish from her hand. “That old witch has been her for like thirty years, as a student and teacher.”

“What’s she like as a coven leader?” Kerry was genuinely interested in knowing more about Mórrígan Coven, which seemed to be about the most mysterious of the covens—though Professor Kishna’s Ceridwen Coven ran a close second.

“Pretty good. She’s a good listener, really empathetic, an if you really, really need something, she’ll get it for you.” Nadine stretched as she giggled. “She’ll also tear up your ass if you try to play her. She puts up with no bullshit.”

Kerry wasn’t surprised to hear an upper level student cursing. He swore once in a while, and he’d heard kids a couple of years old that him swearing as much, or more, than some of the adults on the block. “Yeah, I’ve noticed that about her.”

Nadine nodded, then decided it was time to get to work. “Okay, so Ellison tells me you’re considering performing at Ostara. That’s pretty ballsy, dude.”

“Well, I mean . . .” He had just recently gotten used to being complemented by Annie, and now he was getting complemented by not only a girl, but an older one as well. Though, technically, Annie was older as well. “I have a couple of ideas.”

“Let’s hear them.”

 

But you don’t get to hear them–I don’t even mention them in the scene, so neener, neener.  And there’s that Pond again, the one the older kids swim in and that Annie and Kerry got, as Nadine says, dumped into.  And, pretty much for the first time, we get swearing from the students!  Sure, Kerry swore, but he did it in Welsh Cymraeg, so it sounded like he was gargling.  But Nadine–who is thirteen, by the way, and will turn fourteen before the end of the school year–doesn’t mind letting a few things rip.  You’ll for sure see this happen in the next chapter.

The scene ends on the two students coming to an agreement–well, one that’s kind of driven by Nadine:

 

“You’re already thinking about this as a performance.” Nadine smiled as she flipped her hair back behind both ears. “Yeah, you could program a drum machine for the beat. For the guitar you could do that on a keyboard, and probably lay down the bass on a synth pad.” She looked off to one side of the room, her mouth twisted up while she thought. “You’d need help with all that, though. You couldn’t do it by yourself.”

“Yeah, I know.” He tried not to appear dejected and failed miserably. “I guess I should just worry about playing the piano.”

“Nonsense.” Nadine tapped him on the arm. “Let’s see what we can shake out of this, and what we can put together, okay.” She walked over to the computer station next to the MIDI racks. “I’ll print out the sheet music and we can start with that.”

“You can get sheet music?” Kerry was a bit surprised. He’d discovered the hard way how difficult it was to find proper sheet music for popular songs on the Internet.

“Sure can.” She brought up a browser then went to a page that Kerry had never seen before now. She typed in a user name and password, and ended up in some kind of song data base. “We can access just about every song that’s ever been written and recorded during the last four hundred years—including a few that, I guess, you could call demos that never saw the light of day.” Nadine turned and winked. “Welcome to The Foundation, Kerry. This is what The Pond looks like.”

“Yeah, I see.” He thought about something Nadine had just said. “You said ‘we’ just a minute ago—”

“Yeah, I did.”

“Are you thinking of helping me perform?”

She shrugged. “I was thinking about doing a performance, but . . .” She turned to him. “Would you mind? I could run the drum machine, the synth pad, and the back up keys, and you could do piano and vocals. It’d be your lead; I’d be your backup.”

Kerry winced thinking about vocals. “Yeah, that vocals part . . . I’m not that good a singer.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Nadine turned away from the computer to face him. “We got enchantments that’ll auto tune you better than anything Kanye’s ever had. You’ll do great.” Sheets of paper began silently popping out of a nearby printer. “Just as soon as that’s done, we can start work.” She leaned against the computer counter. “You ready?”

 

Listen to the voice of experience, kid.  She’s in the database takin’ the sheet music, and you ain’t gotta worry about paying royalties ’cause technically you’ll never perform the song.  Makes it sound like The Foundation is the ultimate Pirate’s Bay.  Come along Pond; we need to download something.

Next up:  bad ass sorcery at The Witch House–and I do mean that–a little informal PAV racing, and the Halloween Party–or as the kids at school call it, The Samhain Dance.  It’s time for October to heat up and wind down, and lead into the end of the calendar year stuff.  Pretty soon it’ll be the holidays and the start of 2012 at the school–

Man, that doesn’t seem all that long ago.

Be good to us, October; November isn't going to be that nice.  I know, I've read ahead.

Be good to us, October; November isn’t going to be that nice. I know; I’ve read ahead.

Conversing With the Midnight Witch

Sure, it took me three days to write a fourteen hundred word scene, but it’s done, isn’t it?  Well, you didn’t know that until now.  Yeah, it’s done, finished, completely.  I’m one short scene closer to putting Chapter Fifteen to bed, and I should be able to knock that out today.  Right?

No problem.

Look at all the First Drafts just hanging around doing nothing.

Look at all the First Drafts just hanging around doing nothing.

I’ve struggled with energy levels again, and yesterday was no exception.  It was necessary to get into the coffee in the afternoon, and that did wake me up enough to keep me going until close to eleven PM.  Which is what I needed, ’cause it seemed like every time I turned around I was getting distracted by something shiny.

But I was also back in the groove, and once I get those first few hundred awkward words out of the way, I tend to get something going.  And what was going on was Annie and Kerry walking back to their tower with Professor Wednesday following behind under the pretense she was walking back to the Instructor’s Residents, which is on the other side of the Pentagram walls just beyond Cernunnos Coven.

Of course, there was more to Wednesday’s tagging along that just heading off to bed . . .

 

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

As suspected, they were almost to the covered section of the path leading to Cernunnos Coven when Wednesday spoke. “Tell me: what did you think of tonight’s class?”

Annie stopped and faced the instructor. “It wasn’t what I expected.”

“No.” Kerry shook his head as he pulled his hand away from Annie’s. “I didn’t know what to expect, really.”

“What did you think of us, Prof—um, Wednesday?” Annie was extremely curious to find out what sort of ideas the professors got about them and their growing abilities.

Wednesday placed her hands on her hips and began to slowly shift her weight from leg to leg. “About what I expected. You both came in nervous; you were both a little intimidated by the size of the class and the openness; when it was time to get up and do your spells individually in front of everyone, you were both a little rattled—but, you recovered, pulled off the spell, and even managed to have fun when we went to free lab.” She grinned lopsidedly. “I saw you both with big smiles on your faces while you levitated those two plushes between you.”

Kerry grinned remembering what they did. “Yeah, that was fun.”

Annie nodded and grinned at Kerry. “Yes, it was.”

“There you go—” Wednesday patted both kids on their shoulders. “You lived up to my expectations, and it looked like you were having fun. A lot better than the lab in Basic Spells, huh?”

 

Given that Wends was a little nervous about the new witches on the block, it only made sense she wanted to get and give impressions.  But there was more to the conversation–there always is . . .

 

“I figured you would.” Wednesday sighed while looking around as if she expected someone to pop out of the garden at any moment. “How does it feel to be out of the fishbowl?”

The look on Kerry’s face made it appear he hadn’t escaped from anything. “We’re still A Levels, right?”

“Yes, you are.”

“What do you mean, then?”

Wednesday stopped looking around and remained focus on Annie and Kerry while she spoke. “Well, lets point out the obvious: you’re still A Levels; you’ll continued to have an assigned table for dining and meetings; you won’t have upper levels bothering you during the day.

“But that said—you’re different. Like it or not Vicky started you in that direction, and what you did in Ramona’s class last Friday solidified that opinion among your level mates—”

Annie nodded once. “I know we upset a few of the students—”

Wednesday cut off Annie with a sharp laugh. “Upset? Do either of you have any idea what you did last week?”

 

So how upset were those students, Wednesday?  I’m sure you’re gonna tell us–aren’t you?  Of course you are.

 

Kerry shrugged. “I guess—” He turned to Annie.

Annie turned to him, then back to Wednesday. “We thought we may have scared a few students.”

“Not just a few, Annie: about a third of your level.” Wednesday shook her head. “Your zombie kill spree was how I got involved in this, because Ramona wanted to know if I was teaching you guys Air Hammer on the side. And I saw the video of what you did—it was pretty freakin’ incredible: you cut through those homunculi in under a minute. But do you know what the most lasting image of that little feat was?”

“Us standing together?” Having not seen any video of Annie and he taking on the homunculi, Kerry was unsure where Wednesday was going.

“You left out the part where you were hugging and smiling while covered in gore. You should see it; I could get you a screen capture.”

Both kids chuckled, and Annie bounced on her toes. “I’d love to see that.”

“I can do that. I’ll get you a hard copy and send the digital to Kerry.” Wednesday’s chuckle was as vibrant as her smile. “Ramona said four students came to her after class expressing concerns about you two. By Saturday lunch time she’d spoken to six more.” She shook her head. “You didn’t just maybe frighten them: you scared the hell out of them.

“Yesterday I knew someone was going to ask about you, and just as we were starting lab someone did. I told them I’d moved you over to my Advanced Spells class, and that you wouldn’t be back.” She stifled a quick yawn. “A few were puzzled, a few seemed pissed, a few didn’t care—but about a third of the class seemed relived.” She nodded off in the direction of Founder’s Gate and the south Pentagram wall. “And Vicky took you off of Covingtons and put you both on Espinozas after a week . . .” She shook her head. “Nah, you guys aren’t really seen as A Levels by your own class. And you have upper level kids who know about you now—that’s rare.” She reached over, touched their shoulders, and gave them a gentle squeeze. “You guys are the pretty much the first breakouts in thirty years. Welcome to the rest of the pond.”

 

Kill a few zombie homunculus, get yourself covered in what passes for blood and brains, and before you know it you’re scaring the shit out of your fellow classmates.  The upside is you find yourself swimming about in the pond with the rest of the cool fishes, which could be a little intimidating . . .

 

Annie reached over and didn’t just take Kerry’s hand: she wrapped herself around his left arm and hugged her head against his shoulder. “I think I’ll like the pond, Wednesday.”

Kerry nodded as he leaned his head against Annie’s. “Me, too. Um . . . You only want us calling you by your first name—”

“In class and where there’s no one else around.” She patted Kerry on the shoulder. “The rest of the time you gotta do the ‘Professor Douglas’ stuff or Mathilde will get upset.”

“We wouldn’t want that.” Annie sighed quietly with Kerry pressed against her.

“No, you wouldn’t.” Wednesday stretched out her arms. “It’s getting on towards midnight. You better get to bed; you have Jessica first thing in the morning, and you don’t want to nod off during her lab.”

Kerry could only image what Professor Kishna would do if someone fell asleep in her class. “Sounds like a good idea.”

“It is.” She finger waved to them. “See you later.” She teleported away, leaving them alone in the garden.

 

It only makes sense that Annie doesn’t mind being pushed out of the fishbowl:  she’s a pond sort of girl.  Actually she’s a lake house sort of girl, but only a few people at Salem actually know that.  No point in letting the other kids know you had your own little home-away-from-home when you were nine, right?

And with Wednesday gone home to sleep–you gotta love being able to teleport just about anywhere you want to inside the school grounds–that gives the kids a moment of serendipity:

 

Annie could have stood right where she was all night were it not for Transformation Class in the morning. This was the first time in a long time that she felt completely alone with Kerry, without fear of anyone watching or interrupting. If only it could be like this all the time . . . She wondered if he were deep in thought, or if he were enjoying the moment as was she. “You thinking about something?”

“Not really.” He stretched against her, sighing. “It just hit me that we’re . . .”

“Yes?”

“Well—special.” He turned and snuggled tight, hugging her body with his other arm. “I’ve never been special before.”

“You have always been special, Kerry.” She looked into his blazing green eyes. “You’re a special person as a witch, you’re a special student . . . and you are exceptionally special to me.” She kissed his cheek. “Always.”

Kerry stepped back enough that Annie slid off his shoulder. He smiled broadly, still holding her right hand. “I like that.”

“Just like?” She swung their arms back and forth.

“Well . . .” Kerry looked down, his eyes shielded. “Okay, maybe more than that.”

Annie stopped swinging their arms and paused, lost for a second in the moment. “Yes, you do.” She tugged him towards the tower. “Let’s go home.”

The mantra for the young and alone when it’s time to call it a day:  “Let’s go home.”  I actually like that I’ve had Annie say this, now for a second time, because it gives the kids a feeling of residency rather than making them seem like borders at a private school.  Like it or not, Salem is their home; the place they work, eat, sleep–and live.  The tower is their home base, their place to crash and meet and, with their little lab in the sub-levels, make magic to their heart’s desire.

It’s just about everything a couple of eleven and twelve year old witches could ever want.

I hope they don’t mind when the bad comes knocking.