The day that Pope & Bear Magical Academy excitedly awaited finally arrived. One beautiful, frosty day in December, a little before school broke for Christmas the Faerie delegation made a sunset entrance in full on Fae Fury rock splendor.
The headmaster, Professor Jacob Berzelius Snowmaine, (a scholar admired for his work on advanced magical notation and also the first to discover the properties of dragon snot), was a timid and and slightly fidgety man.
When Kate had first heard his name, she'd pictured a bespectacled, gnomish man with a large red nose, sat upon a kindly face, who was otherwise slender and wizardly in appearance. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Snowmaine was enormous standing an impressive 6 feet 5 inches or 200 cm with broad shoulders, a powerful build and a kind, expressive face. His skin was black, really black. So black, his rare smiles dazzled against his ebony skin. After the initial shock of having her preconception literally blasted away, Kate was forced to admit that for an older guy he was pretty good looking,.
His personality was so at odds with his physique that it was distracting. People tended to forget what he was saying while trying to work out how he came to be. Something about him was simply wrong. Indeed, he gave one the feeling that he'd grown up as the gnomish man that Kate had imagined and then magically had his personality transported into the body of a gladiator.
In spite of this, his magical achievements and a series of unlikely events, had culminated in his becoming headmaster of Jasper's, and Kate thought he did the job rather well.
Snowmaine had made it very clear that Jasper's would be representing the academic world of the magical nation, so everyone from staff to studentry had to be at their best. The grounds had been swept clean twice over. Everything made of iron had been safely tucked away in the basement (Faeries, as Kate knew, hated cold iron). Items remotely related to past aggression between humans and Fae were quietly concealed, which meant several paintings and historical tapestries in the main hall were either replaced or hidden behind powerful illusions.
That afternoon around 4.30, the entire population of Jasper's gathered at the open grounds in front of the school. Many of the students were assigned flower petals to throw and flags to wave.
It began as the pale sun set golden, behind the small hill to the west of the school, with a single trumpet call, long loud and clear. As the note died away a lone voice started chanting,
"Fairy, fairy, fairy! Fairy, fairy fairy. Fairy, fairy fairy.", but they were quickly joined until most of the students had joined in.
Snowmaine started spluttering about quiet and may even have succeeded in calming them (given a few hours), but then, with the enormous twang of an electrostraph (a kind of Fae electric guitar) the grassy hill itself cracked and opened up like an egg shell, and Fae Fury exploded onto the scene.
Kate's mouth fell open at the sight. She was so in awe! Of course, she’d seen pictures of Fae entrances, and they looked incredible, but this was utterly different because it was up close and particularly personal.
She shared blood with the Fae, yet, outside of her mother, she’d never met one. These were her other people, and now that she saw them for real, she really wanted to know more.
A whirling storm of Fae exited the massive crack in the hill, spinning, flipping, cartwheeling their way down the short incline.
They were all brightly dressed in a variety of different styles but no two Faeries looked alike.
First a gaggle of glowing pixies carrying cymbals flew in crazy spirals round the grounds. They were followed by a troupe of drum-beating dwarves. Then came pipe-playing satyrs, prancing through the grass in a wild jig.
"Pish," said Nathan. “I've seen better at the Freedom Parade during Scholomance.” But even he fell into an awe-struck silence as the next troupe emerged.
A battalion of elven shield-maidens cantered into view, each one riding a moon-pale unicorn. The Fae Fury maidens were legendary--they sang, they danced, and they fought like valkyries. Each had an instrument with a velvet tone, similar to an enlarged violin, called a mistostraph. They wore what appeared to be platinum armour glistening like starshine.
When they reached the bottom of the small mound, they slowly raised their instruments to their chins, in time with the student chanting. Suddenly, with a dramatic flourish a rich soaring note joined the rumble of the drums and the scream of the electrostraph.
Behind them, a pair of jet-black stallions with fiery hooves rushed forward, driven by a cackling goblin in spiked leather body armour, like a twisted hedgehog. The stallions were pulling something behind them; not quite a carriage, more of a platform.
It was in the shape of a midnight blue crystal eagle with wings spread wide. The majestic head had eyes of fire. The body spread back to form a wide stage, while the wings spread out and back. The entire stage flew about a meter above the ground.
It was spectacular but completely forgotten as soon as Kate saw what was on the stage.
There stood the Baron, cloaked in a pair of huge gloss, black wings, wrapped in the setting sun.
His outfit was magnificent. It started with 20cm high black platform boots, leading to tight feathered pants in a sort of iridium colour. The feathers lay flat against his legs, colours shifting and dancing as he tapped his foot to the drums. The rest of the outfit was lost under his wings, but his head was decorated as that of a dragon warrior with a golden crest.
He waited until the stage had descended from the low hill when the sound from the instruments was peaking, then started to sing in a deep baritone, timed with the chanting students.
"I wanna be a fairy, fairy, fairy,
I wanna be a fairy fairy fairy",
And then louder:
"I wanna be a fairy fairy fairy,
I wanna be a fairy fairy fairy",
The whole school was chanting with him now. It was Kate's favorite song.
I wanna be a fairy
with a deep voice
and a pair of big black wings
I wanna be a fairy
On a dark horse
And I wanna do EVIL things,
Fairy, fairy Fairy
Fairy, fairy fairy
I wanna be a fairy
With a deep voice,
You'll go wild when you hear me sing
I wanna be a fairy
Ride a dark horse
And I wanna do evil things…
"Oh my goodness!" Siobhan Hawthorn screamed, starstruck. “I can't believe how brilliant they are.” then “Hey what’s with Gilda and Nathan?”
Kate glanced over her shoulder to see Nathan and Gilda standing at the back, behind the others, their serious faces held close together so they could exchange whispers. Even Kate couldn’t hear what they were saying over this noise, not that she was interested. The spectacle before her was way too exciting.
As the delegation came to a stop before the Academy, Headmaster, Snowmaine and the entire board of governors came forward to greet them, but the Baron wasn't finished making music yet and ignored them, turning to the crowd he launched into a new song. The Fae loved to party.
Momentarily Kate thought it strange that such a grand procession should be visited upon a school of magic, but before she could give it more thought, far more mundane matters came to bear.
Professor Fluttersquawk hurried over to her class. "Quickly, children. It will soon be time for your fireworks! Head on over to the Mushroom Gardens and get ready."
"No!" shouted half the class, Kate included. “Professor you can't make us leave now.”
"You'll have time to join the party later. And really you can't call this music can you?"
With much whining, Kate and the other rushed towards the garden, tripping over themselves to get the fireworks done so they could get back to the unexpected but totally amazing concert.
Professor Fluttersquawk was not immune to the festive spirit either and fairly flew over, her feathered cloak billowing behind her.
In the mushroom gardens they found rows of neatly-stacked magical firework rockets. The rockets were quite ingenious:. The two ingredients of propellant were magically augmented so they didn't just project the rocket skyward with fire, but exploded in multicoloured pyrotechnics.
To separate the two ingredients, the students used semi-dematerialised electric eel gut. It was the most unlikely stuff. It was kind of stuck between this realm and the far reaches of Faedom. A state that it didn’t like to be in. A small hint of electricity and poof, it disappeared, migrating fully to the Fae world, with a slight pop, which allowed the propellants to mix.
Kate loved it, it was used in so many magical applications. Heaven knew where they got so many eels (she didn't like to think about that too much) but each time it went poof, she couldn't help but imagine this other part of the Fae world covered in small sections of eel gut. She sure hoped they didn't mind.
As the students arrived, one of the maintenance staff approached Fluttersquawk, a worried expression on his face. "Professor, we have trouble." He quickly narrated the problem in hushed tones. After a moment the Professor slapped her forehead.
"Professor, l-l-look", Gilda stuttered.
In the corner of the gardens were neatly stacked crates of crystal bases. The crystals provided just the jolt of electricity the rockets needed to dematerialise the eel skin, but that wasn't going to happen today, because crawling all through the box of crystals were giant glow worms--hundreds of them, greedily feeding on the charge from the crystals so they could glow the brighter.
Kate used to love playing with them. You could buy packets of five, feed them power from a charged crystal or even a regular battery, and they'd glow in all sorts of colours for hours.
"Goodness!" Fluttersquawk looked revolted and annoyed at the same time. “I've never seen so many glow worms. Where could they possibly have come from?”
"Professor, how will we set off the rockets without the crystals?" Nathan was eyeing the mass of wriggling glowing worms and looked as if he might lose his breakfast.
The problem was that the rockets went off with quite a blast and it was dangerous for anyone to be too close.
The professor shook her head with a sigh and turned to her class.
"We have to work quickly, children. We need an alternative power source, and I think I have just the thing. There are no more crystals, but look at all the citrus trees in the garden. Can anyone guess what we can do?"
Kate was completely lost. What did lemons have to do with electricity? Were the trees themselves magical?
"So, who wants to help?"
Nobody stepped forward, clearly thinking their rather eccentric teacher was starting to crack from the strain. Kate sighed and raised her hand. Maybe by volunteering she might win back some of the trust she'd lost. Moments, later Jonny Pendragon and Gilda also stuck up their hands.
"Excellent Kate, Jonathon, and Gilda, three will do just fine. The rest of you not-so forthcoming-children get the harder task. Run around picking lemons and cutting them in half. We need two for each rocket."
"You two," she pointed to Jonny and Gilda. “Go to the maintenance shed, and get nails and copper wire. Ask Frederick the old gardener, if he's there, but otherwise just take what you need. And children, we need lots. Wires, nails, and cutters. You need to be here in 10 minutes. Here is a super jube for you. Now run.”
Jonny’s and Glinda's eyes widened. Children hardly ever got a super jube. They gave you a jolt of energy and let you run like the wind. Parents hated them more than red food colouring.
"And finally, Kate. You get to help me, and it may be messy. Run down as fast as you can and chat with Professor Brahms. Tell him you need a vurwerk suit--and quickly." Kate gobbled down the delicious jolt of pure energy and ran, springing and somersaulting like some sort of crazy gazelle.
The other kids looked on with jealousy. Fluttersquawk was unimpressed. "If you lot want treats, volunteer. Now get to lemon-picking.."
Nathan and Gilda returned carrying galvanised nails, copper wire and connectors.
"Excellent," said Fluttersquawk. “Everyone gather round. Take four nails, four sections of copper wire and some connectors. Then get your lemons. Now do what I do.”
The professor quickly formed a simple lemon battery. By this stage, the children were all reasonably adept at following her instructions and quickly followed suit.
The class were just finishing when Kate arrived. Well, they assumed it was Kate--they couldn't tell. Running up to them was a strangely beautiful apparition, covered from head to toe in a skin-tight suit of swirling blues and greens with the odd fleck of yellow. The suit was moving, its colors swirling like oil paint in water. Each of them looked on, mesmerized.
"Oh my god, Kate," said Glinda, “is that you?”
"Yeah, neat isn't it?" came a muffled, panting reply from within the swirl of colour.
"Quickly, Kate." said Fluttersquawk. “That's the band finally finishing. Now the orchestra will play, although how they'll follow that awful cacophony I can't imagine.
"Children, position your battery at the foot of each rocket, but be very careful. Make sure you don't touch the wires to the rocket, that's Kate's job.
"Kate, that's Mr. Quiggin the conductor heading over to start the music. Now listen carefully. Each time the large bass drum sounds you need to set off a rocket by touching the wires to the base. Can you do that?"
Kate nodded nervously and said, "But Professor, I'll be right by the rocket when it goes off."
"Don't worry dear, you could walk into Sohos volcano in full eruption in that suit and only feel a slight tingle. You'll be fine."
Kate felt her stomach twisting as she walked over to the first rocket. However, the whole class was watching and she knew the professor wouldn't let her come to harm, so she steeled herself and took position.
Just as she knelt behind the first rocket, the music began.
Ah, it was the Faewinna Waltz. She loved this. It told of a young Fae girl (Faewinna) who fell in love with a dark elf. Though their love was forbidden, it grew until the elf turned from darkness and joined her in the light. Yes, it was soppy, but the music always made her heart skip a beat.
Listening to it now calmed her nerves. She knew exactly when the large bass drum would sound, and so right on queue she touched the wires to the rocket and...
The rocket shot into the sky like a bolt of backwards lightning. The propellant exploded outwards from the tail in a magical soup of brilliance, but it didn't hurt Kate at all. Actually it sort of tickled.
Wherever the magical fires touched her (which was pretty much everywhere), the suit scintillated with yellow, red, and orange fire. It was so gorgeous she didn't know where to look.
"Wicked!" she exclaimed out loud.
"Not now, Kate!" cried Fluttersquawk. “Get to the next rocket.”
Kate set off the next one, then the next. She didn't have time to look up but she didn't care. Unusual as it was, this was the best thing she'd ever done.
The suit was absorbing more and more energy, and strangely, she realized it was also affecting her. She could see the other children shading their eyes as the fire in her suit grew brighter until she was shining like a little sun.
This is wild. The tingling she felt from the suit, she knew it. She'd felt something similar whenever her mother did magic, but this felt 1000 times stronger.
She realised that the suit must be infused with Fae magic. The Fae hardly ever imbued items with their magic and if they did it was only with the help of a human sorcerer. That almost never happened.
But somehow, that Fae magic was interacting with her in an unexpected way. She knew that this was not normal for the suit, this was because she was half Fae.
She became acutely aware of everything -: her classmates, the flowers, the gathered audience, oh, and the wind. The wind was everywhere, and as she thought about it, she heard it clearly for the first time. It was greeting her, darting in and out among the trees, peeking around corners, dancing with the leaves and in the nooks and crannies of the old schools.
And everywhere it went it called to her, "Kate look at me", “I'm here Kate”, “Kate, hear this.”
It was like a light turning on and finally she understood--she wasn't vague or easily distracted. It was the wind. The wind really was talking to her!
She didn't have time to process it, because she had to concentrate. The final crescendo was building in the music. Kate had to let lots of rockets off at nearly the same time. "Help me," she said in panic, and instantly the wind did just that. Gusts swept in from her left and right, pulling flames from her suit and setting off the rockets at just the right time.
Thankfully, no one else noticed since the children had their eyes up at the sky to admire their work exploding in thousands of different colours.
When it was finally over, Kate simply sat watching and marvelling at her hands as the fire swirled in her suit. The the beautiful patterns were something like lava mixed with the sunset. It was mesmerizing (as fire often is).
At the same time, she couldn't believe what she'd discovered - she could hear the wind - no she could talk to it!
She knew she should be excited, or dancing - something - but actually she was somewhat in shock, there was so much power flowing through that she felt giddy. Instead she just sat there watching her hands and waiting for the world to seem normal again.
While Kate sat, Fluttersquawk watched her intently from one side of the courtyard, an odd look on her face. Kate didn't notice her because the wind told her something much more interesting.
"A young Fae, a young Fae is watching you." Kate laughed for the first time in weeks.
"The wind is just like a puppy", she thought, and then she looked across the courtyard straight into the eyes of a pale, beautiful young Fae girl.
Now that she'd been seen the girl moved away from the tree she'd been peeking around, and flitted over. Fae were languid with movement, often pausing to admire a flower here and a tree there, so Kate was surprised when this girl ran straight over with nary a glance at anything else and started babbling.
"That was so cool, the fireworks were awesome and the suit was glowing and you were absolutely rocking it with the music and, well I'm new here, it's my first time past the gremsendorpe (this was said in the harsh tongue of the southern Fae), and I've never met a human before but of course you seem nice, well you would wouldn't you, but oh my, a kragak, I didn't know they existed and wow, they're just beautiful. Oh by the way, I'm Hesrial.
Kate just looked at her dumbstruck.
"Oh yeah, I get excited a lot." Hesrial simply kept talking while Kate, already in a befuddled state of mind, could do nothing but stare at the young whirlwind chattering at her. Could this day get any stranger?
"My father--that's him on the stage," she vaguely pointed in the direction of Baron Avicenna. “Well, he doesn't really want me there and I just can't really sit around discussing art and the history of the school's architecture when there's SO MUCH EXPLORING TO DO IN THIS AWESOME SCHOOL! So, will you show me around?”
"Ah--what?" Kate was quickly getting to her feet. She was standing in a Fae super-suit, having just learned she could talk to the wind, and now, she was going to be a tour guide for the daughter of the lead singer of Fae Fury?
Her brain was actually falling behind now and it took a bit more stuttering to catch up. "Ah, well, so there's a ceremony, I mean…"
Luckily, at that moment Fluttersquawk strolled over. "Ah Kate," she said, “lovely that you've met Lady Hesrial. You two should have a lot in common.” Fluttersquawk looked Kate straight in the eye. “Why don't you take her to the East Courtyard, Kate. It's next to the Baron's rooms and there's food laid out for a picnic for our guests. They should arrive in about an hour. Make sure all is ready and don't eat everything before they arrive.”
"Oh, and Kate", Fluttersquawk called as the girls departed, “I know you enjoy wearing it, but return the suit to Brahms before the end of the day. Don't forget.”
"This day is the best day ever." Kate thought, and not for the first time while at Jasper's. A whole day in this suit, having a picnic with almost royalty, chatting with a, well, a something that looked like a Fae but sure didn't act like one.
Kate was pulled back from her thoughts when the girl standing in front of her started chanting saying in a sing-song voice,
"Kaaate, Katy-Watey. Katy-Watey-Batey-Datey. La la lah. Hmm--you don't say much do you?"
"Ah. sure," said Kate, “it's been quite a day you know. I'm just catching up. You're not much like any other Fae that I've met”.
"No," sighed Hesrial, then grinned. “You're it.” She suddenly tapped Kate on the shoulder and darted off with incredible speed.
"You're on," thought Kate. The wind was calling, “over here, over here!” The suit was full of power, Kate laughed and took off after her new, strange companion at full speed.
Fae are way too fast for a human to catch but a half-Fae in a super suit had no trouble. Kate let her think she was winning for a bit, and then cornered her in a hallway and tapped her lightly on the shoulder..
"Wow, you're good--let's go again." shouted Hesrial.
Finally, after half an hour of laughing and playing the girls found their way to the courtyard next to the Baron's quarters.
The courtyard was rectangular, bordered on two side by a thin line of citrus trees, and dotted here and thereby circular marble tables and benches. The other two sides were formed by the intersecting walls of a large dark granite building. The first floor was plane stone fronted by hedges and covered in a patchwork of vines.
Pushing out through the vines in the middle of each section of wall, on what Kate assumed was the second floor you could see a small ornate balcony.
It was beautiful.
In this, almost rural setting, the pair found a lovely meal laid out for Fae. Small plates of delicious treats could be found all over the tables, grass, roots of the trees and in flowers, as if for a scavenger hunt. None of the servings had meat, of course. Fae wouldn't touch it, but loved fruits of all kinds, sweet cakes of honey and oats, small delicacies with tomato and prune.
The air was heavy with the scent of different spices. Hesrial sniffed and said, "Oh, lovely. Normally you can tell when a human has prepared our food, but whoever did this understands."
Kate felt surprised that Hesrial said this without any trace of contempt or racism that was normal in any conversation where humans talk about Fae or vice versa.
"Try this." And before Kate could protest, Hesrial stuffed something gushy and mouth-wateringly good into her mouth.
"Oh my God," Kate said around the delectable mouthful, “that's incredible. We don't get anything that good where I live.”
"Hah, I knew it, you're Fae kind. Humans can't stand trufflae--messes with something genetic--I don't know, I don't pay attention in school, really. Anyway, why are you here? Are you a spy? Did the prince send you? Are you running away? No, don't tell me, let's make up a story where you're all of those things and then you can tell!"
"Hey," Hesrial sounded a little surprised. “What's wrong? Why the pale face?”
Kate was stricken white and sweating. If the Fae lords found out about her mother... "Hesrial, please don't tell anyone, no-one can know!"
"What?" Hesrial looked incredulous. “With you running around in bad make-up, a glowing Fae power suit ,and being able to play cache-cache with an elf and win--girl, I don't need to tell anyone. You're doing that all on your own.”
Kate's face must have said it all, she was so close to tears and she'd been having such a good day. Why did everything have to get complicated?
"Look," said Hesrial. “Don't worry, I've an idea. You wait here, I'll be back in a bit.”
4 galvanized nails - 2 inches or 4 cm long
4 copper nails / wire - 2 inches or 4 cm long
Soften the lemon by gently pressing down on it rolling it around the table. This will get its juices flowing. However, don't damage the lemon by breaking the skin.
Insert one copper nail into the lemon. This is the positive side (called the anode).
Insert the galvanized nail into the other side. This is the negative side (called the cathode). Make sure the nails won't touch inside the lemon.
Do steps 1-3 with the other three lemons.
Connect the batteries together in this manner: attach the first jumper wire to the galvanized nail of battery 1. Attach the second cable to the copper nail of battery 1, then attached the other side of this cable to the galvanized nail of battery 2. Attach one more cable to the copper nail of battery 2 to the galvanized nail of battery 3, then another cable connecting the copper nail of battery 3 to the galvanized nail of battery 4. Finally, attach the last cable to the copper nail of battery 4. Your batteries are now strung together.
Connect the positive cable of your batteries to the positive wire of the LED light, and the negative cable to the negative part. Now you have a battery-powered light.
When you insert the two different metals into the fruit, a chemical reaction will occur. Metallic zinc dissolves to form zinc ions, releasing energy; it also loses electrons. If the zinc is connected to the copper via an electric circuit, these electrons can flow around the circuit and reduce copper ions in the lemon. The energy released is what charges your mp3 player.
You have built a battery (or technically a cell), which works on the same principle as the cells you buy in the shops, although these more often use different metals, a more optimised design, and less fruit; but they will all involve a similar reaction that requires electricity to flow for the reaction to occur.
There will be a few there naturally, but most of them will be created by the tarnish on the copper dissolving in the acid (see the cleaning copper coins experiment) releasing the copper ions in the copper oxide tarnish).
If a zinc atom is to dissolve, it must form Zn2+ ions; this involves losing 2 negatively-charged electrons. If these electrons can't go anywhere, the zinc object will become so negatively charged it will attract as many positively charged zinc ions back onto itself as are dissolving, so the reaction will stop.
Electrons can flow around the circuit to the copper electrode; here, copper ions are attracted to the negative electrons and, when they meet, they are reduced, forming copper metal. Because zinc is more reactive than copper, this whole process releases about 1 joule of energy for every coulomb of charge that is moved, which is the same as saying the battery produces about 1 volt. This voltage is related to the difference in reactivity between the two metals you are using, so if you change the metals you will change the voltage.
To produce a large current, both chemical reactions have to be able to take place quickly, so the larger the surface area and the more reactants there are in the solution, the faster the reaction will occur. There is a very low concentration of Cu2+ ions so the reaction is likely to be quite slow, limiting the current that can be produced.
The other limiting factor is that it is difficult for ions to move around in the fruit. This is because, after a while, the region around the piece of zinc becomes positively-charged and the region around the copper becomes negative. This means that there is less difference in voltage between the zinc and copper nails, so instead of giving out 1V, the cell may only produce 0.5V. But, if you wait for a while, ions will flow through the fruit to cancel out this effect.
After a while the region around the zinc will become positive due to all the extra zinc ions and the region around the copper will become negative, reducing the voltage of the battery.But if you wait for a while, without drawing a current, the ions in the fruit will redistribute themselves and the voltage will build up again.
This is why we needed to use 12 x 1V cells to produce the 5V to charge the mp3 player: each cell was actually producing less than half a volt. This is also why commercial batteries, when they are almost flat, can still produce a good voltage but this drops as soon as you draw a current.
Experiment 11b - Electric train
Lemon batteries are all very well, but if you want to have fun with electricity, you’ll want to make one of these: