In the Link

I have written a lot these last couple of days, completing just a minute or two ago the longest scene I’ve done in some time.  How much?  This much.

 

1107 12/27 night

842 12/28 morning

1501 12/28 evening

555 12/29 morning

 

That’s a lot of words to get out, but then there were a lot of things going–namely, trying to stay alive as Erywin and the kids make their way to safety.

All they gotta do is enter the stairway on the left and walk.

All they gotta do is enter the stairway on the left and walk.

But is it going to be that simple?  Nope.  Never is.

 

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

Erywin did her best not to look nervous or tight. She only glanced at Kerry a couple of times during the forty meter stroll to the entrance to The Link. There were actually two, and the second one was about ten meters closer, but that way up consisted of a lift, and Erywin wasn’t about to put herself and three children in a small, confined space, not while there were a few magical maniacs running about. While the stairs weren’t exactly the safest way up, either, there was room to move, making their odds of survival far greater.

As if he were reading her mind Kerry pulled out his mobile and slowed to check the display, allowing Erywin to get to the entrance first. She opened the door and held it as Kerry toddled towards her. “Come along, young man.” It was a simply move, but it was enough to allow the girls to hurry by and get inside the stairwell. A movement later Kerry, still looking at his mobile, walked inside. Erywin was close behind.

Erywin took the lead as they headed up the stairs, with Kerry right behind her. The girls slowly faded into sight about half way up, so by the time they were ready to step into The Link proper. Erywin checked the walkway while Annie returned Kerry’s backpack. It was quiet: there were a few people to her right heading in the direction of the train station, and from what she could make out, it looked as if there were a few people already on the other side of Pershing Road. No one seemed headed in their way, and Erywin didn’t know if she should count that as a blessing or curse. It would make it easier for them to cross the road among a group of Normals, but the longer they waited for some to come along, the greater the odds they could be attacked where they stood.

 

They made it that far, and so far so good.  Of course it’s only been about a minute of walking, but hey, no one’s set them on fire–yet.  Time for the Professor’s Pep Talk before going.

 

There wasn’t time to drag this out. Erywin sent a message to Helena, then turned to the children. “I’ve passed along a message; they know we’re crossing over to the Center and I’ll send another message once we’ve jaunted to the safe location.” She turned to her two students. “You know it’s likely to get tricky, yeah?”

Annie nodded; Kerry looked at Annie for about two seconds, then turned back to Erywin. “Yeah.”

“Good.” She gave them both a big smile. “I know I can count on you.”

Kerry nodded. “A good sorceress keeps their wits about them—”

Annie finished the statement. “—When everything is going to hell around them.”

Erywin shook her head. “I should have known you’d pull that one out.”

Annie smiled. “Of course we would.”

“Then let’s get ready to move. Tanith—” She pointed at the girl. “You stay close behind me, but if you feel anyone push you to the ground, you go down and stay there.” She nodded, but said nothing. “Annie, Kerry: you know what to do. You know the code word?” They both nodded. “All right . . .”

Looking into the walkway corridor Erywin opened her Hammerspace and felt the tingle that came when she had access. It felt like they were alone, but Erywin’s senses were on heightened alert: the last time she’d felt like this had been during the Scouring. She offered up a quick prayer: Mórrígan, watch over and protect us from our enemies, and grant us the strength to vanquish our foes should they face us in battle.

“Let’s go.” She waved the children forward as they stepped into The Link.

 

At this point they’re committed.  The kids know what may come, and they’ve got the words of Erywin’s significant other to bolster their courage.

 

They rounded the curved section heading towards the bridge over Pershing Road. Erywin wasn’t moving too quickly: she didn’t want to seem as if they were running for safety. But she was wary, and grew even more so as they stepped out over the highway. The people below on the sidewalk weren’t paying attention to them, and drivers certainly weren’t. Her eyes glanced to the left and right, watching for action below. There was no one there. It didn’t cause Erywin to ease up; in only caused her to be more on guard—

A man appeared about eight meters ahead, almost immediately followed by the pop of a jaunt. She though there’d been a pop behind here, but it wasn’t her job to check. She reach into Hammerspace and pulled her pistol. She flicked off the safety, stepped into a sideways shooter’s stance, and braced her right arm against her body while aiming with her left before yelling the code word that they were under attack: “ON.” She fired six rapid shots—

Annie and Kerry heard the pop behind them and spun around to find a woman about six meters behind throwing a spell at them. Both kids had put up shields before entering The Link, and with the word given, they knew their roles: Annie was offense, Kerry was defense. He pushed more energy into the the screens they’d set up—one for physical attacks, another, less powerful one, for magical attacks—while Annie crafted the most powerful spell she knew—

Erywin’s six shots were nearly invisible to the naked eye, crafted of pure mystical energy. The first two shots hit the Deconstructor’s shield and neutralized the spell; the third shot hit his chest and torched a hole in his shirt; the fourth, fifth, and sixth shots burned through his skin, burned into his body, and blew out the back of his chest. She waited until all six shot did their jobs before preparing for a new threat from the front—

The female Deconstructor casted an Air Hammer that struck the children’s shields less than a second later. Both were barely moved by the attack, though the walkway glass around shuddered and rippled. Kerry kept his eyes open for another threat but didn’t craft an attack spell because he knew what was coming—

 

Right here, right now:  it's on.

Right there, right then: it’s on.

It is on, and in a big way.  But a month of training has paid off, and the division of labor is known and being followed.  And why wasn’t Kerry getting an attack spell ready?  What did he know was coming?  Something a certain girl has been ready to use for a while . . .

 

Annie’s crafting was nearly complete, and as the Deconstructor’s Air Hammer hit their shields the spell became ready. She was fully aware of what she was about to do, but since she’d discovered sorcery she’d wanted to be a sorceress—and she knew what was expected of her, and what she may have to do.

She pushed her hand outward towards the female Deconstructor as if she were pushing her away and cast Exsanguation as another pop sounded in The Link pedestrian bridge.

The spell made it through the woman’s minimal shielding and went to work. She began coughing as blood flowed out of her nose and down her throat. She quickly crafted another spell as blood spurted from her tear ducts and dribbled out her ears. She got off the spell just as the crotch and thighs of her jeans turned a dark color from the blood streaming from her vagina and anus. A second later her eyes filled with blood and ruptured, causing dark rivers of blood to cascade down her face. She doubled over into convulsions as torrents of blood were pumped into her lungs, and a few seconds after that she collapsed to the floor.

 

And that, boys and girls, is what Exsanguation does.  Not a pleasant way to go, but then Deconstuctors aren’t very nice people.  As you can see with this new player in town . . .

 

The drain spell hit the shields and took effect; both Annie and Kerry felt their skin pucker as their shields lost effectiveness. Annie prepared another spell and Kerry began pushing more energy into the shield, for even with the female Deconstructor down, a third one had appeared and, just like his female partner, he had a spell crafted and ready to fly.

The Air Hammer that hit the group was tremendously powerful. Every walkway window flexed and vibrated: three cracked from the extreme pressures placed upon them, though the safety glass didn’t completely shatter and fall out of their frames. Kerry fell back into Tanith, who he pushed into Erywin. All three went down as the the spell hit them, but they were spared serious injury due to the spell shield effect, limited as they were.

Annie was thrown backwards into a floor-to-ceiling support, smacking the side her head hard against the beam. Her right forearm was pushed back into the angle between the support and window, and the crack was loud in the silence of the magical battle happening inside the walkway. She moaned once and collapsed on the floor.

 

Annie’s down, Erywin is probably down, and that means there’s only one person who might be able to do something . . .

 

Kerry heard Annie’s arm break, heard her moan, and even slightly dazed he knew there wasn’t anyone else to protect everyone else. He concentrated hard and threw energy into a light shield while he made it to his feet. He knew he could craft Electrify, but he wasn’t certain he could hit the target. He crafted something he knew would work—Air Hammer—but this time he fueled it with dark energy, intending to make it as deadly as he could muster.

It was crafted in seconds and pushed away. He cast it in the direction of his enemy, but his aim was off. Still, the Deconstructor caught most of the spell, which tossed backwards hard enough that he went down on one knee, moaning in obvious pain. He wasn’t down completely, however: he pointed his right arm towards Kerry—

The Electrify spell hit Kerry hard—as hard, or harder, than the time he was shocked by Helena that first day in Beginning Sorcery. Probably harder, because this time he had up a shield against magical attacks, and he still saw a bright flash in his eyes as the spell hit. He collapsed to the floor hard, feeling something twist in his left knee as he went down. He lay dazed, unable to do anything but look up—

Until the Deconstructor was standing near his feet, then his eyes were focused on his. The man—maybe no older than thirty, but as Kerry had learned, age was impossible to tell with witches—chuckled as he watched Kerry partially raise his right arm as he tried to craft a spell. “Not today—” A small sphere of blue Cold Fire appeared in his upturned right hand. “End for you, you little shit.”

 

Poor Kerry:  about to meet his end getting burnt up with Cold Fire.  Now I can end this novel with Annie weeping tears over his grave–

What’s that you say, Annie?  I’m sorry:  I don’t understand Bulgarian.  But it doesn’t sound nice . . .

 

As the Deconstructor raised his arm two ribbons of shadow snaked down from near a ceiling beam. One wrapped around his wrist, the other his bicep—and both pulled up hard. The upper ribbon cut deep into the man’s arm; the other severed his hand at his wrist, causing the Cold Fire spell to die without access to mystical energy.

Out of the corner of his eye Kerry was aware of Annie up on one knee, her right arm useless, her left arm extended to craft her ribbons, and a murderous look spread across her face bloodied and bruised on the left side. She hissed out a warning as she wrapped the ribbon that had amputated his hand around his neck. “You do not get to hurt him.” She stood and lifted the Deconstuctor off the floor. As she stumbled towards Kerry—who’d managed, somehow, to craft a small ball lighting effect—she swiped her left arm as if she were pushing something away: the Air Hammer stuck him and snapped his body backwards. Kerry managed to throw his Electrify spell at the same time, making the body twitch in shock as the sound of the Deconstuctor’s neck breaking was heard by all.

 

Moral of the story:  do not screw with the boyfriends of pissed-off twelve year old sorceresses.  Oh, sure, Kerry did hit him with a pretty deadly Air Hammer–too bad the Deconstructor had a shield up as well–and managed to shock him a little–and given Kerry’s state it’s a wonder he could actually get that spell working–so he might get credit for a partial kill, but this is pretty much the girls taking out the bad guys.

Leading to one finally moment in The Link . . .

 

He lay there on the floor vaguely aware of Erywin asking if everyone was all right before going silent. He was aware of of Tanith moaning. He was aware of the Deconstructor’s body crashing to the ground as Annie did away with her Shadow Ribbons. Mostly, however, he was aware of Annie kneeling by his head and stroking his frizzed-out hair. She bent over him and smiled. “I said I would protect you.”

He smiled back as best he could. “I said I would protect you.”

Annie leaned closer to his face. “We kept our words to each other.” She kissed him as she gently lowered herself on her left side, resting her head against his chest.

Kerry wanted to say they had to get up, they had to go, they needed to jaunt out, but he couldn’t. The words simply wouldn’t come to him. He reached over and stoked Annie’s hair as the sound of popping air was followed by excited and troubled voices. He thought he saw someone levitate Annie on a stretcher, and felt as if the same thing were happening to him.

Then it felt as if he were jaunting—

 

I wonder where they’re jaunting out to?

And just in case you were wondering how all this went down, on Christmas Day I time lined out this whole scene.  Magical combat goes quickly in this world, and as you see having your shielding in place is important, because if you’re hit, you’re usually hurt in a big way.  And what does this battle look like on a time line?

Something like this.

Something like this.

On the bottom grid, if there’s a solid dot it means they were actually an active participant in the event; an empty dot means they were just there and may have seen something happen.  No dot before the first event means they weren’t there; no dot after a certain event means that person is dead.  And as you can see, if you don’t keep your wits about you in something like this, you end up with no dots in no time.

And now that that’s over, it’s time to move onto the next chapter.

Kansas City is just about over.