Seeking the Unknown Light

My madness knows no bounds, it seems.  When I started this process of figuring out who is attending the advanced classes, I find I’m digging myself into a nice, deep hole of my own crazy.  Because once I began the process of getting into attendance for advanced classes, that turned into something bigger . . .

Once starting on the process of getting names together for classes, a little switch in my head snapped open and told me, “Hey, you better make sure you don’t pull in more people from a coven than you already have.”  It told me this for no other reason than I like to keep my books balanced, or at least keep people from coming back and telling me I’ve got like six E Levels from one coven attending classes, and that ain’t right.

Which meant there was only one thing to do:  set up a grid and start plugging in names for the covens.

It’s not as hard a task as one might think.  After all, I have people for the advanced classes, I have names for the Cernunnos racing team, and I know all the students currently occupying the B Levels of every coven.  So once I had my grid up, and my covens in, and the levels set for each level, all I needed to do was copy/paste names.  And brought up some interesting things . . .

Interesting things.  Like "Why do I do these things to myself?"

Like “Why do I do these things to myself?”

Right off the bat we see something interesting with the West and East Points of the Pentagram, also known as Cernunnos and Mórrígan Covens.  Cernunnos seems to be a little heavy on the boys, while Mórrígan is so heavy with the girls that there are no boys in the B Level.  That’s a fact, Jack, and it just came out that way.  I guess the way to look at this comes from Cernunnos being the only male aspect deity out of all the named covens, while Mórrígan is famous as the great Celtic queen associated with battle and strife.  Åsgårdsreia is named to honor the Wild Hunt and the Valkyries, so it joins the other covens named after goddesses.

And see how lonely that B Level in Cernunnos looks?  Actually, the whole second floor of Cernunnos has fewer people than the second floor of Mórrígan, and there are two levels on that floor in Cernunnos.  Maybe the Phoenix is beating that joint down because of all the boys–then again, she’s the one putting them there, so perhaps the stories are true that she is a sadistic bitch.  Whatever the reason, maybe there’s a story there.  Maybe.

This wasn’t all I worked on yesterday.  There was writing, too.  Oh, yes:  almost eight hundred words of the next scene went down before I finally called an end to the day.  We are into another late night, and since it’s a Wednesday evening, that must mean it’s Wednesdays with Wednesday.  And the little witch isn’t one to waste time . . .

 

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

Wednesday didn’t wait any time getting the returning students in Advanced Spell Casting going: she put them all to work things they’d never touched before. For Annie and Kerry, that meant being put on their spells for the month: Far Sight and Aura Reading. Wednesday said they weren’t supposed to begin learning until near the end of the C Levels, and that most people don’t become proficient with either until near the middle of the D Levels, but she was certain they both would start getting the hang of the spells before Samhain, if not sooner.

After a year at school Kerry knew of both spells—some from reading, some from discussions with Annie. Aura Reading let a witch read another person’s aura, just as the spell advertised, which Annie told him was great way to not only know if a person was Aware, but if they were lying. She mentioned that the first part would be far easier to determine than the later, but she was confident they’d figure out both in no time.

Far Sight was something even more important, for it allowed a witch to extend their sight and hearing far beyond their physical being. Wednesday mentioned that Far Sight was something everyone on the Rapid Response team possessed, as it allowed them to scan areas of the school hundreds of meters from where they were and, if need be, jaunt there to handle a situation. She also mentioned that once they mastered Far Sight, the next step was to master Far Touch, which was far more difficult, but once perfected would allow them to craft spells in the distant area they were viewing.

 

Far Sight and Far Touch are a great combo for a sorceress but are a pain to do together, mostly because if your target is moving, its simply easier to remotely see them, jaunt to their location, and put the whammy on them.  Helena was trying to use Far Sight in Kansas City, and she couldn’t because Tanith’s house was shielded against that spell, and for very good reasons.  Nearly every witch’s house is shielded against this spell, as well as every structure at Salem.  Particularly the covens, because kids will be kids, and none of the students could dress or go to the bathroom in peace if the towers weren’t shielded.  Of course the school could work off the honor system and think the kids wouldn’t do that, but . . . nah.  You get shielding, and you get shielding, everyone gets shielding!

After class the students go to the Great Hall to relax, then with less than an hour before midnight they break p and had back to their covens.  Wednesday follow Annie and Kerry out, because–well, she’s curious–

 

The young witch walked to Kerry’s left, hands behind her back, trying to appear nonchalant. “How do you guys think you did tonight?”

“I think I was starting to get the hang of Aura Reading.” Kerry shrugged. “Can’t say the same for Far Sight.”

Annie leaned forward enough to see Wednesday. “For a couple of instances I thought I saw a faint outline around Kerry.” She righted herself and focused on the covered walkway ahead. “It’s more difficult to do than it seems.”

“That’s because you trick your mind into thinking you’re seeing an aura when in reality you’re not.” Wednesday chuckled. “When you get to where you think you’re seeing Kerry’s aura—or you her’s, Kerry—then I’ll work with you so we’ll know for sure.”

Kerry turned to the instructor. “How do you do that?”

“I give the person being read a set of instructions about what to think, and I compare what the reader is telling me they see with what I’m seeing.” Wednesday unhooked her hands and slowly swung her arms. “I’m also reading the same instructions as their reading, so I can gauge what they’re feeling and know how their aura should appear.” She glanced at the children on her left. “Pretty simple, huh?”

Annie clutched Kerry’s arm. “It sounds rather simply, yes. Can I ask a question?”

“Sure.”

Annie gently pulled Kerry to a stop and turned to face their instructor. “What do you want?”

Wednesday faced the couple. “You guys are perceptive.”

Kerry didn’t bother hiding his smile.  “Well, most of the time you say goodnight to us in the West Transept and then jaunt off to the Instructor’s Residence. The only time you follow us out into the garden is when you want to tell us something—”

“Or when you want to ask something.” Annie was smiling as well. “If you have something you want to tell us, you usually start as soon as we’re outside the Great Hall, so you must have a question in mind.”

“Yeah.” Wednesday nodded towards their bench just inside the covered walkway. “Care to sit for a few minutes?”

 

Sure, they’ll sit for a few minutes, because I said they can.  You gotta hand it to Annie, though:  she doesn’t waste time screwing around.  Kerry picked up on what was going on as well, and as soon as his Sweetie kicked open the door, he ran in after her.  But then, they have proved they work well together–just watch out when they start finishing each other’s sentences.  Oh, wait . . .

Back on track with writing and world building.  There are better ways to spend the weekend, but for now I’ll take these.

It’s almost as fun as getting my nails painted a bright blue like I did yesterday . . .

To the Head of the Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, about advanced classes . . .

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

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

Remember this sucker?

Remember this?

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

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

Not a lot of advanced students, to be honest.

Not a lot of advanced students, as you see.

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

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

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

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

Schedules to Keep, and Classes to Take Before They Sleep

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

“Do you know when they were born?”

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

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

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

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

“What’s what?”

“That word: vǎra—”

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

“Not really: I was—”

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

“Joe Haldeman.”

“The guy who wrote The Forever War?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Nope, never read it.”

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

But then, you knew I had one, right?

But then, you knew I had one, right?

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

Just like I did with the title of this post.

Away and Display

First off, the matter of business is:  how went the torture of the face?  Answer:  not well.  Second time now I started crying, this time about fifteen minutes, maybe twenty minutes in. It wasn’t good, and after that I simply couldn’t relax, and I did a quick laser session, which burned off a few of the remaining dark hairs.  I discussed the situation with the women who does my treatment, and we sort of figured out that (a) I’ve been beating up the same section of my face for three weeks now, and it’s probably causing a lot of the pain, and (b) I’m not getting the numbing cream on right, and that means nothing but pain.  So we’re going to try something different next week, and see how that works.

Also, my Orphan Black tee shirt came yesterday, and Pupok has the story of my transition right there in gray on purple.

Also, my Orphan Black tee shirt came yesterday, and Pupok has the story of my transition right there in gray on purple.

The real burning question–see what I did there?–is, “Did you write?”  Like a good aircraft, I did seven hundred and thirty-seven words, and inched to within fifty thousand before the events of the day caught up to me and I finally went to bed tired as all hell.

In the battle for your novel, 502 words is the same as inches.

In the battle for your novel, 502 words is the same as inches.

Considering how I felt like night, I considered the output to be something of a victory, because I felt ill by the time I returned from the face zapping place.  I really needed to write, even if it wasn’t easy getting the words down.  I really need to get through this chapter and onto the next, even though I know on of the scenes in the next chapter will probably raise some hairs on the backs of some people’s necks.  And that’s good, because writing is suppose to be about pulling out the emotions.  Maybe I could stop putting mine out there all the time.

In our last post Jessica wanted to say something to her students.  Now, after the writer got zapped, she gets her chance.

 

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

Jessica stepped behind Kerry. “This is our newest student: Kerry Malibey, a B Level from Cernunnos.” She watched the exchanges between the other four students, noticing Annie catching her own share of glances. “I know you find that a bit surprising, as the soonest any of you were invited in was at the end of your B Levels or the start of your C Levels, but I have my reasons for inviting Kerry and his girlfriend Annie—” She watched a couple of sets of eyes light up at the mention of Annie an Kerry’s relationship, though one of them wasn’t Fekitoa’s. “—into this class. Allow me to explain . . .

 

Well, of course a kid from their coven isn’t going to be surprised to hear about these two:  by now we’ve figured out that Annie and Kerry are kinda minor celebrities in their own tower.  It’s also interesting to hear Jessica call Annie a girlfriend, because she’s seemed to avoid mentioning the relationship at all, save to give one or the other a bit of crap in class.  The more we get into the year, the more it seems like the staff just accepts that there’s more here than hand holding and a lot of snogging.

What does Jessica have to say?

 

“Kerry is one of the best at transformation crafting I’ve seen, as is Annie—please, join us.” Jessica motioned the girl—who had done as much as possible not to look as if she was an official member of the class—to stand with them. “This is the reason I forwarded the invitation. Now, Annie won’t be in class most of the time: she gave good reasons for not accepting the invitation, and after giving the headmistress and me her reasons, we both agreed with them.” Jessica smiled at the girl. “She’s sort of auditing the class this evening, and while she’ll like not come to many, she’s welcome to join us any time.

“Kerry will stay with us for this year, and, I hope, for more to come. Because he needs to catch up to the rest of us, I’ll spend extra time with him now and then.” She put on her best smile. “Don’t take this as a sign that I’m trying to make him fit in: I assure you, he’ll be right along side you in no time.”

Jessica took a step back from the group, who turned to face her. “Dig out your notes on Invisibility: we’re going to start in on that again, since a few of you were just getting the hang of it at at the end of last year. While you’re reviewing those, I’m going to have a word with Annie and Kerry over in the corner.”

 

Oh, now it’s Invisibility:  the real thing, not just light bending.  Yeah, just what you need to teach to these two–well, to Kerry, and then he’ll run off and teach Annie.  Speaking of which . . .

 

Once they were away from the rest of the group Jessica threw up a privacy spell so they wouldn’t be overheard. She sat against the edge of a table before addressing Annie. “I hope you didn’t think I was putting you on the spot—”

“Not at all, Jessica.” Annie had half-expected Jessica to try and convince her to join the class full-time, and was surprised when she didn’t. “Thank you for not pressuring me to reconsider.”
“Oh, I considered asking you to do just that, but after discussions with Erywin and Helena, I better understand your position.” She nodded in Kerry’s direction. “As you said, in order to be good sorceresses, you have to be able to teach what you know—”

“And this is something that Kerry can certainly learn to teach.” Annie grinned at him. “Isn’t that right, love?”

“As rain.” Kerry hadn’t minded being put on display in front of the other, older students, but something struck him as odd. “You didn’t mention anything about me being a Mimic.”

“I didn’t because I don’t want that to get out—” Jessica shrugged. “At least not yet. Once you’ve been in class a while, and you’ve learned to developed your Transformational Art, people will likely figure it out on their own.” She shifted position to make herself more comfortable. “When it comes to Gifts we’ve found that the knowledge of who has them usually finds its way to the rest of the students in due time—making announcements become unnecessary.”

Jessica moved to a nearby chair, and invited Annie and Kerry to join her. “I want to bring up one thing, Kerry—something that wasn’t actually covered last year because, well, there wasn’t a need. But now that you’re about to take the leap into some major transformation magic, it’s time to make you aware of lay ahead.” She slowly crossed her legs, letting the wonder of what she would say next grow. “It’s no secret that people are afraid of sorcery, and with good reason—” She eyed Annie for a few seconds. “But you both already have first hand knowledge of that reason, so there’s no need to tell you something you already know. But have you ever noticed how skittish people get around witches who are the mistresses and masters of transformation magic?”

 

Yes, Jessica, we have, but what do you mean?  Oh, you’re not telling us until tomorrow?  Well, that’s not very nice!

The one thing to get from this is the public shout outs Jessica gave to both kids.  Now is the time when they are being touted, and not only is it going to show with people in their own level, it’s gonna show up with others.  Jessica isn’t one to hand out complements, but this is an advanced class, and we’ve seen those are a whole different mixture around this place.  One of the reasons Kerry likes it at school is that it’s the only place where he’s recognized for his skills, and not treated like a “strange kid.”  And Jessica is giving him and Annie high praise–something she’s not known for doing.

Tomorrow we’ll find out for sure what Jessica’s going to say–and maybe even get into the next scene as well.

Loss and Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Her newest students show with someone in tow–

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

And some more writing.  I promise.

Tugging the Post-Apocalyptic Heartstrings

Fridays and Sundays are quickly becoming the “Take the Night Off Writing” days, because that’s what happened yesterday:  damn near no writing at all.  Oh, sure, I tried, I really did, but I made it like two hundred words past where I was the last time, and just skated on by with the work.  Some of this is due to watching movies on those nights, because I need to get my mind on other things once in a while, and I need that.

"What other things?  There's writing, and your characters, and sex, and . . . oh, those things."

“What other things? There’s writing, and your characters, and sex, and . . . oh, those things.”

Though normally I’m thinking about sex for my characters, so don’t judge me.

Yesterday, since I’m all by myself and there’s nothing to do, I went to the movies to see Mad Max:  Fury Road.  This was the first movies I’ve seen in the theaters since seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, which gives you an idea of how often I get out to movies–it’s like one time a year if you’re keeping track.  Now, full disclosure:  I am a big Mad Max fan.  I had the first two movies on bootleg video tapes, which meant the first one was without the dubbed voices (when Mad Max was first shown here in the US all the dialog, even Mel Gibson’s, was dubbed to get rid of the Australian accents).  I’ve even seen the one and only “Lost Version” of Mad Max 2, aka The Road Warrior, presented on NBC, which included a lot of added scenes as well as the infamously changed opening and closing narration, redone by someone with a bad US Southern accent.

I’ve also looked up a few spots where filming has occurred, in the instance that I ever get Down Under I can head for Broken Hill and check out some locations.

Since everything in Austratalia is trying to kill you, I fully expect to find this waiting for me at Mundi Mundi.

Since everything in Australia is trying to kill you, I fully expect to find this waiting for me at Mundi Mundi.  G’day, mate!

So I went to the movie expecting to be entertained.  I also expected to be blown away, ’cause I’m a sucker for fast cars and explosions.

I didn’t expect to almost start crying when the movie ended.

I’ve said, time and again, that your characters are the most important part of the story:  if they are no more than cardboard cutouts, then it’ll show throughout your story.  Now, I had read over the last few weeks how surprised people were at the strong characterization of people in the movies, particularly Charlize Theron’s character, Imperator Furiosa.  (And that’s FuriOsa, not FurioSAR.  Hermione wants you to get it right.)  The people making these statements were correct, but there seemed to be so much more to them . . . there was depth.  There was a lot lying below the surface of most of the characters, and during the course of two hours it all bubbled out.

Tom Hardy’s Max went through a number of changes during the movie, even though he’s given so little to say.  He doesn’t need words; it’s done with looks, with body language, and late, with the tone of his voice.  (And before people start pointing out that Tom’s dialog was cut down to give the focus of the movie over to the women, in Mad Max 2 Mel Gibson has sixteen lines, and two of them are, “I only came for the gasoline.”  Yeah, people living in the Outback after the end of the world usually don’t have much to say.)  The one thing you do get about Tom’s Max is that he is truly mad, and he’s yet to come to grips with his madness.  Like many of us with mental illness we learn to cope, and this Max copes by just staying the hell out in the middle of nowhere and staying away from people, ’cause he might do someone harm otherwise.

At the end of the movie I was almost crying because I’d been sucked into the spectacle.  I found characters that I liked and wanted to know more about, and found their struggle to reach the end worthy and believable.  But then I’ve found this with a lot of action movies made outside the US:  you get sucked into the story, either because the characters are compelling (Hard Boiled and La Femme Nikita instantly come to mind) or you get drawn into action that is both real and over the top (The Raid and The Raid:  Redemption cover this one nicely).  Action movies here, on the other hand, seem to be designed to sell toys, and if you want anything serious, well, you’ve not come to the right place.

Which is why every time I see the latest Baytacular, where gigantic toy robots that you’re going to buy off Amazon later get into a battle that ends up killing millions of people for whom you give zero shits, Act 5, Scene 5, of Macbeth comes to mind:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

 

If there is one thing I never want to do, it’s create a story that signifies nothing.  And our characters are everything.

Without them, we have nothing upon which to care.

Portals To and Fro

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

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

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

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

But so much for today–what abut yesterday?

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

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

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

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

But writing, right?  It’s coming.

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

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

 

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

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

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

For Annie, this structure meant so much more.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

What is Kerry trying to do?  This:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Always a good time to ask for something after class.

Always a good time to ask for something after class.

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

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