Dining Hall of the Lovelorn

Here I am again, kiddies, and believe me the last night and morning have been sort of NaNoish, only in the sense that I’ve been writing a lot, but I haven’t exactly been stringing all those words together at the same time.  I wrote nearly eight hundred words last night, and just a shade over a thousand this morning, and while that puts me in the, “I made my word count!” category, it means I gotta step up my game in the next couple of days if I’m gonna “win” my third consecutive NaNo.  I know what I need to do to get it done, it’s just getting it done that’s been a pain in the butt of late.

And today has been sort of an all over the place kind of writing.  The last time I spoke of my current scene I had Erywin Sladen sitting down with a somewhat feeling out of it Kerry whom, it would seem, was suffering  from Annie Seperationits.  That’s to be expected:  it’s only been a few weeks since he came to grips with his feels for her, and now she’s off on the other side of the world from him, and he’s missing her oh, so much.

In comes Erywin to the rescue, because . . . well, it’s not like Coraline is the only romantic in the house . . .

 

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

A huge smile was spread across here face as she sat. “Thank you.” She slowly crossed her legs; Kerry thought this was the first time he’d ever seen her in jeans. “How are you feeling?”

He shrugged. “I’m okay.”

“Mmm, hum.” Her eyes bored hole through Kerry’s head. “She left at nine, am I right?”

“Yeah.” Kerry looked down at his untouched plate of food.

“Do you know what she’s doing now?”

Kerry answered without even thinking. “It’s almost nineteen in Pamporovo; she’s either waking up, or she’s been up for a bit. If it’s the later, she’s probably getting ready to go out to dinner with her parent.” He looked up from the plate and sat back. “It’s what she told me she was going to do.”

“Is that what you’re going to do when you get to San Fransisco?”

“Probably not. By the time we get out of the airport and back to my grandparent’s house, it’ll probably be close to twenty-one.” Kerry shrugged. “Maybe we’ll pick up something on the way and eat at home, or stop at a restaurant.”

Erywin studied Kerry for a few moments, watching his face, watching how he sat and touched his silverware and ignored his lunch. She leaned forward onto the table top. “May I offer a bit of advice?”

“Sure.” Kerry was only half paying attention to the professor up to the point where she asked her last questions. Before then his mind was on Annie, thinking of her home, sleeping, wondering what her room looked like—

Kerry.”

His looked up. “Sorry, Professor.”

“Erywin.”

“Erywin. What did you want to say?”

 

“You’re being a noob, kid.”  No, really.  She wouldn’t say that.  Helena, maybe, but Erywin, no.  She has other advice:

 

“You’re missing Annie, missing her dearly. Your mind is a aflutter with thoughts of her, and you can’t seem to concentrate on any one of them for long. Correct?”

He wasn’t going to lie. “Yeah.”

“You have to look at your separation from the standpoint of . . . time.” Erywin chuckled as she laid one hand upon the other on the table. “You know a little about that concept, yeah?”

Her question elicited a chuckle. “Yeah, I know a bit about that.”

“Then here is what you do. First, imagine the time you cherished during her departure. Remember the important things: hand holding, a hug, a touch, a conversation, a kiss. Keep that close to you, Kerry: hold it within you and don’t let it go.

“Then, when you start to miss her, think about those same moments, but frame it in the time since they happened. Start thinking, ‘It was only yesterday that happened’. Then, ‘It was only two days ago—’ then four days ago—then five and six . . . and before you know it, you’ve reached the mid-point of your holiday, and you’ll begin counting the days towards your return.”

She sat back, her eyes remaining on Kerry’s brightening face. “Then you begin imagining what it’ll be like when Annie and you are together again, and your hold that idea in your mind and think, ‘I’ll see her in a week’, then ‘I’ll see her in five days’; then it becomes three days, then two . . .

“After that it’s ‘I’ll see Annie tomorrow; maybe at night when I arrive, or maybe the next morning, but we’ll be together again’. Then you go to bed, wake up . . .” Erywin held up one hand and spread her fingers as if she were catching rain. “And it happens. You’re together again. This sadness that plagues you is over.”

 

It may not be the best advice in the world, but it’s something she employed when she was a young student who was away from her “pretty girl” during the holidays.  She also knows something else . . .

 

“Good. And, Kerry—” Erywin touched her heart and lightly patted her fingers against her chest. “This pain you’re feeling? It’s a good pain. It’s the the pain you feel when you know you’ll be reunited with someone you love, and who loves you as much.“

He slowly took in a breath and released it quickly. “It doesn’t feel that way.”

“Trust me: it is.” Erywin leaned across the table. “It’s when there isn’t anyone waiting for you that it becomes a horrible pain that you wish would go away forever.”

That’s a horrible thought. “You ever have that happen?”

“No.” She sat up and looked about to see if anyone were watching them. “I’ve been lucky; I’ve only had to deal with being separated from Helena, and no matter how long that lasted, she always came back to me.” She curled the fingers of both hands and slid her nails back and forth against each other for a few seconds. “I hope to never feel that second pain—and I hope you never do, either.”

 

When it comes right down to it, if there’s anyone at Salem who understands pain, it’s Erywin.  Her experiences as a young, open lesbian in love in the early 1980’s wasn’t the easiest, particularly when you know that she’s always worn her heart on her sleeve and has never been one to hide her emotions–hey, she sounds like someone else in this story, particularly when you consider her girlfriend/companion/partner who is really good at being a sorceress and keeping her feelings hidden from others . . .

You might say if there’s anyone at the school who sorta understands Kerry, it’s Erywin.  And it’s a relationship that will only build in time.  You heard it here first.

She’s so comfortable speaking with him about these things that she makes an offer that she doesn’t normally make to anyone else . . .

 

Erywin fell into contemplation for a few seconds, then spoke a bit more quiet than before. “Every solstice I offer up an invocation to our coven goddess—I don’t think I need to name name’s.” She took a couple of slow, measured breaths. “With your permission, I’ll ask her to watch over Annie and you so nothing bad happens to your relationship.”

Kerry didn’t say anything for a few seconds. He wasn’t traditionally religious—his mother was Catholic, his father was Protestant, and while he’d gone to church when he was younger, no one in his family had set foot in one since just before he turned seven—but he got that the school still followed the older beliefs that were started by the witches who’d founded Salem back in the Seventieth Century. It was the reason for the coven names, and why they referred to the various holidays by their traditional names.

He also got that there were a few people here who did more than pay lip service to “the old ways”, as he’d heard some people say. He knew Erywin was one, as were a few of the other instructors. None of them had ever offered to do anything like this before, and he was unsure if he should thank her and say no, or if he should qualify his statement first . . .

He lay his elbows on the table and slowly rubbed his palms together. “You know I don’t believe in any of that.”

“I know.” Erywin didn’t appear upset at all by his statement. “Which is why I asked if I could do so with your permission, because I know you and I don’t share the same beliefs.” She gave him a soft smile. “If there’s one thing I don’t do, it’s proselytize and arm twist.”

 

Little is said about the “old beliefs” at the school.  I know the school follows a few traditions that, to outsiders, would seem strange.  And none of it is forced upon the students–if you want to call Samhain “Halloween” or not participate in any of the little traditions that happen that weekend, you don’t have to join.  If anything, the traditions that were started in the 1600’s have changed over the centuries, and the witches who founded Salem would likely not recognize most of what happens at Beltane when the Blodeuwedd Coven starts the party going.

Erywin is being friendly in offering to say something to her deity on behalf of Annie and Kerry, but she also knows he may be offended by the offer, and tells him, “Hey, you don’t want me to do this, it’s cool.”  No one’s asking Annie, though, but then she knew about this stuff long before she entered school, and for all we know she’s down with the idea.  Maybe one day we’ll see.  Given how she’s taken to the idea that he’s become comfortable using the original holiday names, one must wonder.

And that’s when this happens:

 

“Well, that’s different.” Erywin smile brightened. “You participated in our Samhain traditions, and you didn’t experience any adverse affects, did you?”

She’s got me there. “Nah, none at all—and Annie loved walking between the bonfires.” He brushed a few strands of hair back from his face. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to have a Celtic war goddess watching over our relationship.”

“I agree.” Erywin reached over and touched Kerry’s hand. “And, for the records, I can’t say I’m entirely certain The Mórrígan exists—but our Phoenix is real, and so is Baba Yaga and a—”

“Wait—” Kerry wasn’t quite sure if he’d heard the instructor’s last statement correctly. “Baba Yaga is real?”

“Yes. She’s like our Phoenix: an old and powerful spirit living in Russia. She’s not pleasant to be around, either—ask Adric about her . . .” She tapped Kerry’s hand twice before pulling back. “My point is I don’t know if The Mórrígan is real: maybe yes, maybe no. But I find comfort in her protection, and who knows? Maybe she is out there watching—in which case I want to be on her good side.”

Based upon what he’d seen so far at the school—and vaguely remembering his E and A with the Phoenix when he arrived—he thought it entirely possible there could be something out there in the world calling itself The Mórrígan, and that it might actually like the fact that people believed in her protection . . . “It’s amazing the things I’m learning here. Six months ago I wouldn’t have believed there really were these powerful spirits—

“Six months ago you wouldn’t have believed you were a witch and sorceress, either.” She cocked her head to one side. “Look how that turned out.”

This time he laughed out loud. “Yeah. Can’t be skeptical about that any more, can I?”

 

Not only do we discover that Erywin is skeptical that a deity she’s offers invocations to may be real, but we discover that a creature of Russian folklore is real.  Does she have a hut with chicken legs, or does she just wander around the countryside and kill people because that’s how she rolls?  Now we’re beginning to see there are creatures out there that people have believed for centuries were just myths and stories, but surprise!  Not really.  Like Erywin tells Kerry, six months ago you wouldn’t have believed you were a witch–what do you say now, kid?

You say it’s a good idea you keep your options open.

Where I am right now is half-way through Chapter Twenty-Six.  It’s coming along nicely–

And look what's coming next!

And look what’s coming next!

Yeah.  Next scene is gonna be fun . . .

The View Beyond The Foundation Window

Where was I last night?  Actually I had to run out and pick up a couple of things, and by the time that was over I was back at the apartment somewhere around seven-thirty.  After I got back onto the computer and started working . . . nothing was really coming.  It’s interesting how that happens, you know.  Eleven hundred words the night before, less than four hundred last night.

But since I was asked, “Who is Kerry gonna speak with at lunch?” it’s only fair I show you.  And Kerry is a mess right now.  He is Mr. Mopie Sadsack right now, because his sweetie is off in Bulgaria–probably walking up after whatever magic The Foundation slipped into her Readjustment Mixture works its magic and got her on the proper local time–and he doesn’t even feel like eating, which is a first for him.  However, someone comes a callin':

 

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

It hasn’t even been three hours— Kerry poked the Italian sausage on the right side of his plate. And I’ve gotta stay here for like another nine hours—or ten—maybe longer . . .

“Now here’s a young man with something on his mind.” Kerry looked up from his plate to find Professor Sladen standing across the table from him. She regarded him with a studied eye. “Ah, he is conscious, and not in some self-imposed trance.”

He chuckled as he set his fork to the side. “Hi, Professor Sladen.”

Erywin waved dismissively at him. “Oh, please: school’s out for the year. You can called me Erywin.”

“I don’t know if I can get used to calling you all by your first names.”

“’You all’?”

“You know: instructors.”

“Well–” She placed her hands upon her hips. “You have no problem addressing Wednesday by her first name—what does she have that I haven’t got?” She chuckled as his face turned a bright red. “May I join you?”

Kerry calmed himself and nodded. “Please do . . . Erywin.”

 

All this calling instructors by their given name and stuff–really, it’s going to drive a kid crazy.  And what has she comes to talk about?  I’ll have to write that tonight.

It’s interesting that now that the novel is moving towards the end of Act Two and a few truths are going to emerge, not just with Kerry but with Annie as well.  And in Act Three we finally get out of the school and wander about the land beyond the walls.  I was asked recently about the world beyond the walls of Salem and what it was like, and my answer was simple:  it’s the world of 2011 as we knew it–because we are in 2014, and we’re looking back–and there isn’t much of a change other than one discovers during this story that there’s a shadow organization that spans the entire globe and not only gathers children from all over the world, but brings them to a school that no one can see save for those known as The Aware.

I mean, take a look.  There’s the Salem Institute of Greater Education and Learning (SIGEL) right in the middle of the picture, just to the north of Gloucester and to the east of Rockport.

It's right there.  Don't you see it?

It’s right there. Don’t you see it?

I see it, because I know the layout in my head, but that huge green area in the middle of Cape Ann, where one would find a large forest and quarries and even the remains of Dogtown, there is instead a huge, walled school that normal people live next to and have no idea exist.  That’s where your smoke and mirrors and magic all come into play, convincing everyone that all is right in the world and there’s nothing to worry about, because should you wander into that area, everything you think you’re gonna find you will.

Annie and Kerry get to venture into the old world–well, old to Kerry; Annie’s always been used to living in her Foundation World while dealing with the Other World–and they’ll travel into Salem, maybe even by train.  I can’t tell you what they’re doing there, because spoilers and River would come after me, but it’s not something anyone would probably believe at this point.  Needless to day, being outside in the world is going to have an affect on both my kids.

And Annie will be haunted by one of her deepest fears right in front of this statue in Salem.  Probably because Samantha Stevens has that effect on young witches.

And Annie will be haunted by one of her deepest fears right in front of this statue in Salem. Probably because Samantha Stevens has that effect on young witches.

The later stories (yes, there are more stories) get out into the real world even more, and if I ever get the second novel written you’ll see Kerry out and about, though the third, forth, and fifth novels would actually see them outside the walls of Salem a lot more.  Right now they’re innocent A Levels and I can’t let them leave the safety of the school.

Which is why Kerry’s already been in a coma.  Because safety.

The Road From Sadness Leads to Vienna

Wednesday night is Panera “Eat and Write” night, and while I didn’t write as much as I thought I might–if you call almost eleven hundred words “not as much” a bad thing, that is–I finished a scene and made up my mind about something else I wanted to do with the story.

First off, the scene:

It really is time for Annie and Kerry to split up and say goodbye.  It’s 16 December, and they aren’t expected to return to the school until 2 January, 2012, and those are a lot of days to be apart in Young Lover’s Time.  While there’s time Annie sits Kerry down on “their bench” so she can give him some parting advice . . .

 

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

Annie and Kerry sat in silence for nearly a minute. Annie suspected that he was waiting for her to make an opening, possibly out of fear that he would stumble through what he wanted to say. She knew how to get the conversation started. “Kerry, I want you to promise something.”

He started laughing. “The last time I promised you something, I ended up in the hospital.”

Annie rolled her eyes. “This time it’ll be different.”

“I know.” He looked down for a moment before he again looked Annie in the eyes. “What would you like?”

“I want you to promise you won’t show your sadness the entire time we’re apart.” She laid her right hand upon his left and began making slow circles. It’s one thing to be sad; neither of us will enjoy this separation. But please don’t mope, and please don’t pout. Most of all, please don’t break down and crying, particularly in front of your family. I wouldn’t want them to see you that way.”

She took both of Kerry’s hands and held them. “I’m going to miss you; I’ll think of you every day, and wish you a good night when I go to bed—”

“So will I.”

“I know. But this is our holiday as well, and we should enjoy the time with our families. Let’s not spoil it for them.” She slightly lowered her head as the eyebrows rose slightly. “Okay?”

Kerry was about to agree when he picked up on something; a slight waver in Annie’s voice, a tiny different in her body language, the way her fingers seemed to tremble a little against his hand. “You’re sad already, aren’t you?”

Annie slowly closed her eyes an softly grunted. “You know my moods.”

“I should; I’ve been around you almost constantly for the last four months.”

 

“Yeah, honey:  if possible, can you keep the crying to a minimum?”  It also says something for Kerry that he can pick up on Annie’s feelings after a few short months–or has it been longer?  I’m not saying, not yet.  Mysteries, remember?

 

She nodded a couple of times. “Yes, I’m sad to be leaving you. I know you aren’t leaving until tonight, and I would love to stay with you—”

“I promise.” He turned his hands over and pressed his palms into Annie’s. “I’ll keep my sadness private. And I’ll think of you every day, too.”

“I know you will.” She leaned in and kissed Kerry, hold the kiss for many long seconds. “I love you, Kerry.”

“I love you, Annie.” He allowed his eyes to focus on Annie’s locket. “You really are wearing that for your parents to see.”

“I said I would.” She held the locket between the fingers of her right hand. “My father won’t know that I didn’t leave for school with it, but my mother . . .” She looked at Kerry and smiled. “She’ll know different.”

“You’ll tell her where it came from?”

“I will.”

He was about to ask another question when school PA system seemed to be, as always, speaking directly to them. “Attention: all students departing for Vienna please report to the public jaunt center. I repeat: all students departing for Vienna please report to the public jaunt center. That is all.”

Kerry stood. “That’s you.”

“Yes, it is.” Annie shouldered her bag and stood as well. She held out her right hand. “One last time this year?”

“One last time this year.” They strolled hand-in-hand to the Great Hall, passed through the West Entrance, and turned towards the first door on the right.

 

“One last time this year.”  If I’d ever had any kind of eleven year old romance, I probably would have lost it at that moment.  Right now I’d settle for any kind of fifty-seven year old romance, but that’s another story.  I also love using the word “jaunt”.  It comes from The Stars My Destination, one of my favorite novels, and was later used by Stephen King for his story, The Jaunt.  It is what it is:  teleporting.  Sure, it’s done with magic, and some people do it on their own without a problem, but if you need to move a few people from place-to-place, sometimes it’s best to confine the magic to a particular spot, and have someone oversee the jaunting . . .

 

Holly approached Annie and Kerry as soon as they were a few steps inside the room. Even through Holly didn’t need to ask which student was traveling, there was protocol to follow. “Departing for Vienna?”

Annie took a step forward. “I am.”

“Name please?”

“Annie Kirilova.”

Holly spun around the tablet she held and presented the screen to Annie. “Place your dominate hand on the display, please.” Annie set her right hand upon the screen: a second later the tablet beeped. Holly checked the readout. “Thank you, Annie. You’ll be on your way in a minute or two.”

“Thank you.” She gently pulled Kerry to one side and held his hands while faced him.

Kerry had nothing but emotions running through him at the moment; it was as if he’d lost the capacity for intelligent discussion. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Say nothing, then.” She pulled herself into her soul mate and rested against him. “We’ll linger in the silence.”

They stayed that way for a little over a minute before Holly made the final announcement. “All students leaving for Vienna please take your luggage and step upon the platform. Everyone else please stay on this side of the yellow line.”

She gave Kerry one final hug. “Until next year, my love.”

Kerry wrapped his arms around Annie and returned the embrace. “Until next year. Have a great Yule.”

“You too. Happy Yule.” She retrieved her roll-on luggage and stepped onto the platform, which was nothing more than a large section of the floor marked out in red and yellow at the east end of the room. She stood in the front so she could see Kerry before jaunting.

He smiled at her, the kissed the index and middle fingers of his left hand before extending them towards her. “Moyata polovinka.”

Annie did the same using her right hand. She broke into a huge smile. “Moyata polovinka.” Her arm was still extended and the smile was upon her face when she and the other students vanished with a soft pop.

 

And there she goes, off to Vienna, and remember her final stance, because that will come up the next time we see Annie–which should be at the start of the next chapter.  Chapter Twenty-Six is Kerry’s chapter, and while he’ll be by himself for the most part, he’s not really alone.  And he’s going to learn some interesting things during that time . . .

Like in the next scene. which I debated writing.  I’d come up with it on Tuesday, and yesterday it was flowing through my head, the conversation I envisioned.  The only problem was, the more I thought about it last night, the more I wondered if it would kill the flow of the story at that point.  But this tale is about characters and what they learn, and how they use that learning experience.  Also, the conversation includes a character who will actually play an important part in Kerry’s life in a few years, and this moment in time would be a good point to set that foundation.

So now Chapter Twenty-Six looks like this:

Sometimes you have to look hard to see the changes.

Sometimes you have to look hard to see the changes.

Where there was a deleted scene, it’s now been moved and has become part of the narrative.  Even after a year, when I thought I had the story laid out the way I wanted it, new things come to mind.

It’s nice how that work.

Dancers in the Dark: Away Into the Shadows

Chapter Twenty-Five is over and done, and the shadows had their say.  More or less.  You’ll have to continue reading to see what I mean.

Not only is the chapter done, but I’ve made some modifications to the rest of Part Eight, getting it set up for how I want to write the remaining part of Act Two.  As you can see . . .

It's always better with pictures.

It’s always better with pictures.

I’ve decided to move one scene up to the next chapter, and to actually delete a scene.  Why that one?  Because, in thinking about what happens there, it breaks the flow of the story, and I can actually show what happens there through conversation in two other following scenes.  It also sets up a nice transition, because Frisco Bound has Kerry arrived in San Francisco, and his last thoughts in the scene is right about now Annie should be waking up . . . and then break to the next chapter and Morning in Pamporovo, and guess who’s waking up?

Yeah, that’s how you do it.

But how did that chapter end?  Well, I had my kids dancing before a dying fire, and there was more on Kerry’s mind, it would seem, that a dance from a month before . . .

 

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

They grew close, one hand inside another, Kerry’s free hand around Annie’s waist with her other hand wrapped up and over Kerry’s right shoulder. They swayed back in forth in the shadows in front of the sofa, the dying fire to one side, and the nearly dark commons on the other. Neither spoke for almost a minute as they enjoyed the closeness and intimacy. Annie didn’t want to lose the moment—and she suspected that Kerry was still deep in thought.

She finally decided she had to know if Kerry was thinking about the same thing that had been on her mind for a few days. “What are you thinking about?”

This time he gave here a direct answer. “Yule holiday.”

He doesn’t say Christmas anymore. Annie pressed her head into his shoulder and smiled. “You’re thinking about being apart, aren’t you?”

Kerry nodded. “Yeah.”

Annie ran her hand up and down his shoulder. “I’ve been thinking about it as well.”

“Day after Boxing Day is our four month anniversary.”

“You’re keeping track?” She didn’t want to tell him that she knew this as well.

He laid his head against hers and let his voice drop to a whisper. “Every since the first month we were here—” His chuckle was so low as to be almost inaudible. “That was your birthday, after all.”

He realized; he knew all along. She wanted to put his mind at ease, even if her own wasn’t there. “It’s only going to be a couple of weeks.” Annie raised her head so she could gazed upon Kerry’s face and look into his eyes. “You’ll get to see your grandparent again, and I’ll be back home.” She rested her head against his shoulder once more. “I’m actually looking forward to seeing my parents. I told my father I’d have grown by the time I come home for Yule—”

“And you have. Maybe an inch.”

She thumped him lightly on the back of his shoulder. “Silly. That’s not what they meant.”

 

Yeah, you know what they mean, slick.  But she noticed that her birthday was the first month they were physically together–and I noticed it, too, last night while I was looking something up.  That’s one of the reasons I put dates on everything, and as I was getting the date they met in the bookstore in London, I realized, “Hey, that was a month before Annie’s birthday.”

27 August to 27 September.  I wasn't lying.

27 August to 27 September. I wasn’t lying.

But now that the missing and stuff is out in the open, what next?  Well . . .

 

“I know.” He glanced up the stairs past the mezzanine commons to the unseen entrance to the First Floor where there rooms were. “But we’ve gotta go to sleep soon.”

Annie slowly stepped away from Kerry. At first she followed his gaze up the stairs, then her eyes settled on the sofa. “What if we sat here for a while before heading up?”

Kerry stood next to Annie and let his eyes wander over the sofa. “We might get sleepy here.”

“It’s possible.”

“And . . .” He pointed to both ends of the sofa. “There are pillows and comforters here.”

Annie said nothing for a few moments, allowing the implications of the ideas they were considering settle. “It’s not like anyone ever slept here.”

Kerry picked up two pillows and laid them at one end of the sofa. “Otherwise why would they have this here?”

Annie picked up a comforter and spread it out. “Only makes sense.”

“It certainly does.” Kerry waited for Annie to pull the comforter back before laying down and pressing himself against the sofa back.

 

Hey, you kids:  what are you doing?  I’d say they’re getting ready to go to sleep . . .

 

Annie lay next to her soul mate on here right side, her back against him. She reached down and pulled the comforter over them, snuggling it over their shoulders and around their necks. “You know we could get detention—”

“I know.” He slid his left arm over her waist. “We’ll just have to get up about five or so and head up to our rooms.”

“That isn’t a problem.” She sighed as she watched the fire go out. “You’re not worried?”

Kerry rubbed his nose through Annie’s hair. “If we get detention . . .” He pulled back her hair and kissed her behind the ear. “It’s worth it.”

She took his left hand and held it tight. “A month ago you wouldn’t have said that.”

“A month ago I was only starting to know how I felt about you.” As the fire finally died and the embers began to smolder, Kerry brushed Annie’s cheek. “Good night, Annie. I love you.”

She touched the back of his hand. “Leka nosht, Kerry. I az te obicham.”

They relaxed and closed their eyes, Kerry’s arm once more around Annie’s waist, her hand still in his.

They drifted towards their dreams as the shadows embraced and held them tight . . .

 

And there they go, zero shits given if someone stumbles across them on a Sunday morning–which, traditionally, is a time to sleep in, so if they sneak up to their rooms on a floor they share with no one else, all should be right in the world.

I’m sure the shadows will tell them if someone comes.

Dancers in the Dark: the Dance Begins

Here we come, already, to the almost end of Chapter Twenty-Five.  There was a lot going on over the weekend, and I actually did get a lot done, and spent a lot of time on the road as well.  You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but for most of Saturday I wasn’t even online, save for those periods early in the morning when I was doing my Saturday blog post.  And not sleeping.  Hated that part.

That part is over, however:  the last two nights I’ve gotten pretty good sleep, and even this morning I don’t feel as if I’m drugged.  Though I think the walk to work is gonna be chilly, since it’s only 37 F outside–

Hey, that’s pretty much the same temperature as the outside when I wrote this scene.  I know ’cause I looked it up.  Which is why the scene starts this way . . .

 

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

The door leading to the lower level open and two students stepped into the Cernunnos Tower ground floor commons. Anyone still awake in the tower would have recognized them right away for they were almost always the last ones to leave the Midnight Madness these days, but no one else was on the commons floor at thirty minutes after midnight.

Annie and Kerry slowly made their way towards the stairs at the other end of the commons floor, but before they could turn and ascend to their rooms, Kerry stopped and lightly tugged on Annie’s hand. “Do we have to go up right now?”

Annie didn’t need much coaxing. “We could sit in front of the fire.”

“What’s left of it.” The fireplace was enchanted so that it would begin burning out not long after midnight every night. Kerry led Annie over to the sofa; he sat first, then waited for Annie to sit next to him before he pulled her close for cuddling.

“It’s still warm, though.” Annie liked how Kerry was now taking initiative when it came to romantic gesture. Not that he hadn’t before, but since his declaration of love after the Day of the Dead, he’d begun doing things—like this suggestion they not go up to bed right way—without needing hints first. “And you’re keeping me warm.”

 

Kerry:  Keeping Annie Warm Since a Couple of Weeks Before.

I would have tried to find a picture with a boy in here as well, but most were of the "Too Sexy" varaity.  So, just imagine Annie in a few years after she's sent Kerry off to some magic story in another country, and she's killing time waiting for his butt to return . . .

I would have tried to find a picture with a boy in here as well, but most were of the “Too Sexy” variety. So, just imagine Annie in a few years after she’s sent Kerry off to some magic story in another country, and she’s killing time waiting for his butt to return . . .

Though the truth is he’s done that before–sometimes without even being asked.  But things are different with him now, particularly since he laid the “I love you” bit on Annie.  He must be feeling the vibe a little more.

Of course Annie thinks he has something on his mind, because he’s been quite tonight.  She then has to ask about what’s on his mind.  And . . .

 

She received an answer, but it wasn’t the one she expected. “The dance.”

“The Samhain dance?”

“Yeah.” Kerry touched his cheek against her hair. “It’s been almost a month now.” He chucked softly as he stared into the fire. “I miss dancing.”

Annie turned so she could see his far and figure out if he was joking: he wasn’t. “You do.”

“Yeah, I do.” He closed his eyes for a moment. “I’d never danced with a girl before; it was . . . special.”

“It was special for me as well.” She turned back and was staring into the fire along with Kerry. “I’d never danced with a boy before, nor did I have anyone dedicate a song to me and then dance with him—alone—in front of everyone there.” She felt a tingling in her head. “I still get a little light headed thinking about that moment.”

Kerry slipped around Annie and stood. He faced Annie, and with the fire to his back his entire front was cloaked in shadows. “Dance with me?” He held out his hand for Annie to take.

She looked up, and the tingling in her head intensified. “There’s no music.”

“We don’t need any.” His hand remained outstretched. “Dance with me, Miss Kirilova?”

Annie took his hand and allow him to assist her to her feet. “I would love to, Mr. Malibey.”

 

I’d keep an eye on those titles they just threw out, because . . . you might hear them now and again?  Isn’t that called foreshadowing?

They must be about to get into trouble.  Yeah, that’s it . . .

The Shadow Teaching

It’s way early right now, like five AM early, because I didn’t sleep at all.  Well, a little here and there, but not as well as I would have liked.  And I can’t make coffee this morning, so somewhere along all my driving today–yep, I’m out on the road once more–I gotta find some java.  And then a couple of rest stops along the way.

A question came up last night:  what’s you’re current word count.  Well, now that I have two of three scenes finished for Chapter Twenty-Five, it’s pretty easy to say, “I’m right here now.”  That’s means a couple of screen graphics are in order.  First, where am I with the Act?

Yep, right there.

Yep, right there.

And there where am I with the novel?

I'm at a point between foolishness and total insanity.

I’m at a point between foolishness and total insanity.

I’d mentioned, just off hand, that I’d hit somewhere around 280.000 words, and I was right there in the ballpark.  This makes me believe that Act Two will likely end up somewhere between 150,000 and 160,000 words, or just slightly longer than Act One.  And if Act Three is about the same . . .

Yeah.  Madness.

With that in mind, what’s the madness going on in my kid’s private lab?  Annie’s impressing Kerry with the thing she made for him–sort of . . .

 

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

Kerry wasn’t quite sure what to make of the . . . ribbon floating before him. “It’s pretty—” He gave Annie a puzzled look. “What do you call this?

“It’s called a shadow ribbon—at least that’s what the spell is called.” She waved her hand to her left and the ribbon moved to Kerry’s right, then up and over his head, to finally float back down on his left and settle back where it had started. “You can make them as big or small as you’d like, and once I know how to work this spell better, I can control more than one at the same time.” She nodded at the animated shadow. “Go ahead, touch it.”

He ran his fingers over the wavering ribbon. I shouldn’t be able to touch this, but I can. “It feels like silk.”

“Light and flexible, yet strong—just like it.” She came closer and placed her hand next to Kerry’s. “I’ve actually see people use these to suspend heavy objects from walls and ceilings.” She removed her hand and performed a quick circular motions with her outstretched index fingers. A moment later the ribbon partially wrapped itself around Kerry’s right wrist. Annie slowly waved her right hand off to one side, and the ribbon lifted Kerry’s arm away from his body. “I can use it to take you were I want you to go.” She chuckled, her eyes shinning brightly, happy that she could show off her abilities to her soul mate.

Kerry chucked as well. “It’s not like you need magic to have me go somewhere with you.”

“That’s true for now . . .” Annie waved both hand and the shadow disappeared into nothingness.

 

For a young lady who’s just starting out at a school for advanced students who can bend reality, she’s able to crank out the crafting.  And someone is noticing . . .

 

“Most sorcery is fairly blunt force in its application: shadow magic requires a deft touch to craft correctly. Lovecraft said it was like the different between punching holes in walls to working with rice paper.”

“I saw how you were working with it.”

“Yes.” Annie nodded. “Light touches everywhere.”

“That was pretty obvious.” Kerry smiled broadly. “I don’t know why Lovecraft was so surprised, though: she should know by now you’re really good when it comes to this stuff.”

“Well . . .” She blushed thinking about how Professor Lovecraft had asked her a couple of times if she had actually done Shadow Ribbons before, since she was able to craft a ribbon on her third time, and it had taken her weeks to manipulate her first one.

“After all—” Kerry stepped next to her, taking Annie’s hand. “You are my Dark Witch.”

“Stop.” She brushed her fingers down his chest in mock anger.

“And now you’re the Dark Shadow Witch.” He laughed, and Annie joined him a moment later. “I don’t understand why this is sorcery, though. I would imagine Wednesday would teach this to us.”

“It’s because it can be used against people.” Annie took Kerry’s left wrist in both hands. “As light and silky as that shadow felt, I could have tightened it until . . .” She pretended to pop his hand off his arm.  “It would have been easy to amputate your hand.”

“Glad you didn’t.”

“I’d never do that to you . . .”

She didn’t say about doing it to anyone else. “I know.”

 

Yeah, she never said anything about lopping off someone else’s hand.  You know, like nosy wingmates who are asking personal questions of your soul mate . . .

But that’s for the future.  Annie has something else in mind at this very moment–

 

Annie studied Kerry closely for almost twenty seconds. He said nothing, but she expected that: he’d grown used to watching her observe him. She though about how he’d looked when she’s created the ribbon, and how acted when she maneuvered it around his body and wrapped it around his wrist. It won’t hurt to ask . . . “Would you like to learn how to do this spell?”

Kerry’s eyes beamed. “You’d ask Lovecraft if she’d teach me?”

“No.” Annie’s eyes beamed back. “I’d teach you.”

“Wait . . .” He brows furrowed. “I thought you have a sorceress’ bargain with her so you could access the library in the Witch House?”

“I do.” Creating a bargain had been a requirement before allowing Annie into The Black Vault. “The bargain says that anything I learn in The Vault I can’t pass on to others—” She tapped Kerry on the chest. “I think that was designed to keep me from showing you everything I learned.”

He’d figure that as well after she explained the deal she’d worked out with Professor Lovecraft after she’d shocked Kerry into the hospital for the night. “What’s different now?”

“I didn’t learn this spell in The Vault.” Annie turned her eyes up towards the ceiling for a few seconds. “This isn’t the first spell I’ve learned, either—And none of them I’ve learned in The Value.” A slight, playful grin played across her face. “Lovecraft won’t let me practice any spells in The Value. She says it’s too dangerous.”

 

Now we reach the part of the program where Annie, after almost three months in the joint, decides it’s time to step up the game and start passing along what she knows to her significant other.  Though it would seem as if the wonderful Mistress of All Things Dark left a big opening for Little Miss Dark Witch to do just that.  And she’s realizing it, but . . .

 

It could be she wants to see if I’m going to take what I’ve learned and pass it along to him. She gazed deeply into his eyes. But this is something he should know—something I want him to know . . .

She made up her mind in an instant. “I want to teach this to you.”

Kerry chuckled and turned his gaze towards Annie’s feet. “I don’t know; I think—”

“Kerry.” He snapped his heard up and met Annie’s burning gaze. “You’re a good sorceress. Lovecraft said so, and I say so.” She ran her right hand down his arm. “It’s time you became my Dark Witch.”

 

No shits are given–she wants her own Dark Witch.

And we all know by now:  what Annie wants, Annie gets.

Shadow Lab

The action in the story returns to the somewhat infamous lab my kids have in the sub-levels of their home away from home, Cernunnos Tower.  And, for the first time in two chapters and a dozen scenes–I know because I counted them–the scene is told from Kerry’s point of view.  That’s unusual, but given that he spent nearly the time in one chapter in a coma, expected.

This time, however, he’s only sleeping on the sofa in the lab when Annie shows up with great news.  Well, she’s happen he at least wakes up, but there’s better news:  she learned a spell!  And she wants to show it to him.  What’s it all about?

Shadows.

Different shadows, guys.  Sorry.

Different shadows, guys. Sorry.

And it makes up a good part of what I wrote last night:

 

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

Annie stepped near the mid-point of the table and looked about the room as she adjusted the ambiance. “Lights, low.” The lighting dropped to something akin to the illumination they would have with a low fire. Annie moved towards a collection of shadows in the corner farthest from the sofa. “This is what you can do with shadow magic.”

She stood before the collection of shadows and spread her hands out before her, as if she were smoothing out an invisible sheet. She did it twice more, then began making a pattern on the invisible sheet with her fingers. Annie continued laying out her pattern, then slowly lifted her hands the slightest bit—

A section of the shadow darkened and coalesced before it parted from the rest of the mass and floated towards Annie’s outstretched hands. The section was maybe a half a meter long and ten centimeters wide, but from where Kerry stood, it seemed as if whatever his sweetie had created had no visible thickness.

The segment of shadow hovered a few centimeters from Annie’s fingers. She didn’t look away from her creation as she brought up the light to medium illumination; while the other shadows grew dim in the brighter light, the one hovering before Annie remained dark and solid.

She skimmed the shadow through the air towards Kerry and brought it to a hover about twenty centimeter in front of the amazed boy. Annie lowered her hands and approached. “How do you like that?”

 

Short and sweet, with a bit of a lead-in about what Kerry was working on for Ostara.  Actually, I’m trying to keep them all short and sweet at this point, but there are still a lot of scenes to write–and one or two that might just get the ax before I get to them.  I’ve got one in my sights right now . . .

You can guess which one of these, 'cause there's no guessing with me.

You can guess which one of these, ’cause there’s no guessing with me.

That’s my evening and I’m sticking to it.  I have something in mind for tomorrow, and since I’ll be on the road most of the day I’ll likely need to write that tonight.  And since I have to run out and fill up my silver beast . . . I know just the place to do that.