The Answer to the Magical Questions

Here I am, down to the coffee shop on Labor Day getting a bad buzz on and finishing up the penultimate scene of Chapter Two.  And let me tell you, it’s been a struggle.

Sure, here it looks easy...

Sure, here it looks easy…

I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m having a hell of a time typing this morning.  There are times when I want to say it’s the nails, but a lot of it is this keyboard, which I’m still getting used to working with.  And that’s due in part to not being a good typist.  I used to be good, but my skills aren’t what they once were and it shows.  And it’s not because I don’t type, it’s just that–I’m not sure.  I think my brain doesn’t work as well as it did at one time.

Or maybe I’m being really good at getting down on myself of late.

Anyway, yesterday we learned about Penny’s life at home and how she was more or less saved by her big sister–though “saved” isn’t so much the right word as “noticed”.  That’s a huge different when it comes to getting the parents talk about you and your craft, and it’s something Kerry doesn’t have.

He does, however, have one really important question:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Kerry felt a slight pang of envy over Penny’s revelation, for what happened to her wasn’t far from what he desired in the relationship with his parents. “Why do our parents get so freaked out with us? I mean, I can understand some of the parents who are like deep in their religion and start thinking their kid is like the spawn of a demon or something, but like with mine they’re not religious at all. My mom was raised Catholic and my day Protestant, but neither of them have been to church much since before we moved to Wales.”

“Mine are the same way: mum and dad are both Protestant, but they go to church maybe once every two or three months.”

“Then why do they freak out when we tell them we’re witches?”

Once more Penny grew quiet for a few seconds as she put her thoughts into place. “Alex and I talked about this a little during the last level; she had some of the same problems I had, and while they cleared up it still bothered her.

“See, when our parents got out of school they started looking at what was ahead. They had to think about work and getting married and having kids and that whole lot. I mean, we’ll have to do the same, but their understanding of the world then was a lot different than ours and they came to believe that things would always be a certain way. You know: they’d get a house, they’d pay their bills, they’d have kids—and those kids would grow up a certain way.

“Parents still freak out a bit when their kids tell them they’re gay or lesbian or trans, but it’s not as bad as it used to be ‘cause the LGBT stuff is more accepted these days. It’s become part of what they’d call reality: it’s known it can happen.

“But witches? Nope. That’s some serious Harry Potter shite and nothing but fantasy—or at least that’s what our parents were always led to believe. Then along we come and prove to them that it isn’t all rubbish, and that gets them to thinking: if witches and magic ain’t all tosh, what else do they think is true that they were told isn’t?” She shook her head in a dismissive way. “I think it’s really that simple: we rock their idea of the way the world is supposed to be and because it’s so close to them, it spins them right the fuck out.”

 

Besides the fact that Penny does drop an f-bomb–she is fourteen, so that happens now and then–she hits on a valid point:  witch kids of Normal parents aren’t supposed to be possible, and yet they exist.  She thinks it’s why they freak out so much since witches are nothing more than fantasy–but if fantasy truly is real, then what else is real hat isn’t supposed to be real?  Spirits?  Real.  Monsters?  Real.  Bad wizards?  Real.  World controlling organizations?  Real.  Dragons?  Not real–or are they?

With this scene out of the way it’s time to move on to the last meeting of this chapter:  Alex and Annie in Kiev.  And can you guess where they are meeting in the city?

Maybe you can–if you’re not chicken…

Quick and Dirty Saturdays

If it’s Saturday it must be time for a video recap.  And here I cover some other writing I’d love to publish plus–something completely different:

 

Walking Into the Known Unknown

I have noticed that when I’m really tired my fingers don’t work well.  Like last night:  I was completely out of it once I got back from the phone bank and even though I did manage a few hundred words of writing, it was a struggle.  My fingers were all over the keyboard, hitting everything but the right keys.  That is probably the most frustrating thing in the world to have happen, because you want to do something but you can’t.  A lot of the story of my life.

We know Penny and Kerry had breakfast in Ispwich, but now they’re out walking in the woods.  What woods, you say?  These woods:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

After a relaxing breakfast they walked back to St. Mary-le-Tower, took off, and headed twenty kilometers eastward to Rendlesham Forest to hike the infamous UFO Trail around the locations that made up the well-known 1980 incident, when solders at the RAF Woodbridge airbase claimed to see lights in the forest and possibly found a grounded unknown object.  The day was perfect for a hike in the woods and as there weren’t a lot of people on the trail there wasn’t any worry they were going to get a lot of questioning looks about their leather flight jackets.

They didn’t say much for the first segment of the walk: they’d said plenty back at Costa they both felt they could use the silence brought on by their location. It was only when they arrived at Spot 1 on the trail map that Kerry broke the silence. “There it is.”

Penny turned and watched her excited covenmate. “Yes, it’s a gate.” She chuckled. “You don’t see many of those these days.”

Kerry tisked and walked until her was wrap his fingers around the chain links. “Yeah, but this is the gate: the East Gate.” There was a huge smile on his face when he turned around. “This is where it started.”

“You should see how excited you are.” Penny spoke as she sauntered towards him. “I should set you down with me mum. I didn’t tell her I was coming out here ‘cause she’d have probably wanted to tag on.”

 

So where is Kerry hanging out all of a sudden in such an excited state?  Here:

Maybe Kerry has a thing for gates. By Taras Young - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37074729

Maybe Kerry has a thing for gates.
(By Taras Young – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37074729)

Kerry didn’t just fly all the way across the UK so he could make it easy for Penny:  he wanted to come here, to the Rendlesham Forest, site of what some have called “Britain’s Roswell.”

Just like Roswell only without the desert and with tree.

Just like Roswell only without the desert and with tree.

It’s like this, early on the morning of 26 December, 1980, U.S. Air Force personnel standing at that above gate saw some lights off in the distance.  And the time RAF Woodbridge was a NATO base that was used as a staging point for fighters that might have to go in and attack Russian tanks if those commies decided World War III needed happening and it was a good day to die.  So anything that looked out of the ordinary kicked the paranoia up considerably, as, you know, those lights could be KGB spies or something.

Long story short:  a bunch of U.S. airmen went out looking for the lights, chased them around the forest, and eventually came upon something that people said was maybe a spacecraft setting in a clearing.  No one really knows because, for one, there was a lot of sketchy info about what was seen and when, which is usual with these sightings.  Britain’s Ministry of Defense thought so little of what happened they didn’t bother with an official investigate because they said nothing happened to compromise national security.  And people who were hot to investigate the matter over the years pretty much say they think what those crazy Yanks saw were just meteors and a lighthouse that’s not too far away, and because all this happened at three in the morning they weren’t at their sharpest.

Don’t think that Penny and Kerry are wandering through the woods without a destination in mind.  Nope.  As pointed out there now existed The UFO Trail through Rendlesham Forest, a three mile/five kilometer long path that follows the points where those lights were seen, and even heads into the clearing where the “saucer” was seen.

I even mapped it out for you.

I even mapped it out for you.

Penny and Kerry started out at the dot right above “Measure” and are now at the dot closest to the end of the runway at top left.  And now that they have a good look at the gate, Kerry wants to hear more about Penny’s mom:

 

“Really.” He crossed his arms. “Is she into paranormal stuff?”

It was her turn to blow raspberries. “Mum was big into it before she found out about The Foundation. After that—” She rolled her eyes. “You should have see her the first time I told them about The Phoenix. I thought she was gonna want to go to Salem right then and there.”

“She’d have been disappointed if she had. Ol’ Phee doesn’t speak to much of anyone except Professor Lewiston, and from the way it sounds she’s gotta be in the right mood for that.”

“True there.” Penny stepped up to the gate and squinted as she looked through to what was now known as Woodbridge Airfield. “What were those bunkers we flew over?”

“They used to keep fighters in there.” Kerry stood alongside Penny and looked inside as well. “It’s been report that the U.S. kept nuclear weapons in those as well.”

“Wouldn’t be surprised: that sounds like the sort of shite the Americans would pull.” She looked to her right with a slightly embarrassed look upon her face. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that.”

“It’s okay.” Kerry chuckled. “I’m technically an ex-pat, and I’m not sure we can consider the land inside school walls part of the United States as no one outside The Foundation know were there.” He took a step back from the gate. “Before we fly home I want to get a look at one of those from the ground.”

“We should be able to do that.” Penny turned and touched Kerry on the arm. “Let’s go.”

 

And this really goes back to why everyone was so spooked that Boxing Day morning in 1980:  though it’s never been confirmed, there are a few people who have stated over the years that nuclear weapons were kept at RAF Woodbridge without the British knowing.  Sure, this would be a violation of treaties and all that, but like the U.S. ever really cared about that when it came to doing what they liked.  Anyway, no nukes there now, nor UFOs, either.

Just a couple of witches looking through an old fence and thinking about what to say next…

Truths Laid Upon the Plain

Though I stated yesterday I wanted to finish this penultimate scene so I could move on to the next, things didn’t work out the way I expected.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t move on with the scene, but the finish is likely going to happen tonight after I have dinner.  I know I’m supposed to go out tonight, but I may forgo that venture because I have a lot of writing to perform tonight, and I need to get to that–which means going out and getting hammered isn’t the path to walk.

The part that was finished last night, well . . . it’s a little insight into the two people speaking at the moment.  Oh, did I say “people”?  I should say person and a well-on-neigh creature that claims to spend all her time acting as the Benefactor and Protector of Salem.  Yes, as a couple of people figured out, Deanna’s speaking to the entity known as The Phoenix, the creature that does all the E and As for each new student not long after they enter the school grounds.  I did say she would put in an appearance in this novel–oh, wait, that’s not what I said exactly . . .

But we’ll get to that in a moment.  Meanwhile, Deanna’s on the clock and she’s dealing with a pesky spirit, and that’s not setting well with her–

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Deanna wasn’t in the mood to spend the evening chatting with a whimsical spirit. “May I pass?”

Humh.” The tone of the disembodied voice turned serious. “To continue your investigation?”

“Yes.”

“You humans: you’re so inquisitive. And you, Deanna—” A sound like a low growl echoed through the library. “There are times when you become so singled minded in your endeavors—”

“Am I allowed to proceed?” It wasn’t often she found herself having to argue with the school’s protector. This is what I get for coming in here, but I had little choice— “Or are you going to cast me out?”

This time there was an ominous undertone to the laugh. “If I were going to cast you out, Seer, you’d find yourself back in the physical realm lying on your back in the garden nursing your wounds.”

A slight curl appeared in the corner of Deanna’s mouth. “Perhaps.”

The moment she spoke the word Deanna regretted her choice. She jumped back and instinctively reached for her sword as the space before her erupted in hot blue flame twice her height. She calmed herself as she recognized this form selection and knew it wasn’t a coincidence. As stated in the Quran they are made of smokeless, scorching fire— She threw up her shield as a pair of orange eyes opened in the middle of the flame and stared back at her.

For the first time since entering into this conversation with The Phoenix the voice speaking with her emanated from within the flame. “Suddenly feeling fear, are you?”

Deanna left her sword in its sheath but keep her shield in place. “If anyone knows how to frighten me, it’s you.” She stood her ground even though she wanted to rip open the Curtain and head back into the physical realm. This is why I can’t be around Cold Fire . . .

 

If you haven’t picked up on the clues, Ol’ Phee decided to appear to Deanna in the form of a djinn.  What’s a djinn, or jinn if you’re not into the old spelling?  It’s a genie, and you know what those are, right?  No, I’m not putting up a picture of some blue dude and attempting to write in a way that Robin Williams would speak.  Sorry.  The transitional djinn aren’t something to mess with.  In some ways they’re like angels, and in other ways they’re like demons.  In both ways they can be bad news, and they shouldn’t ever be taken lightly.  They are described, just as Deanna thought, as being of a smokeless and scorching fire, and many old images show them as being leaping flames of blue fire.

They also seem to scare the piss out of Deanna, and she knows The Phoenix knows they do.  Deanna also, we learn, doesn’t like Cold Fire because they are too much like those djinn, and you have to wonder if she starts having strange thoughts about how Annie loves to play with that stuff.  There’s nothing cold about this fire, however, as Deanna obviously feels the heat, and in more ways than one.

And now we learn just a little more about our favorite seer:

 

There was a long pause as the flame-shrouded eyes coolly regarded the school seer. “You are so unlike the scared girl who walked through Founder’s Gate in 1996, who spent so much of her E and A crying—”

“I was scared because I didn’t know what I was getting into.” Deanna finally lowered her shield and stood straight. “I was crying because I didn’t expect to have my E and A held in Majlis al-Jinn.”

“But that experience gave me everything I needed to see your life.” The mirth returned to the spirit’s laugh. “And seven years after that you managed to encounter a real djinn.”

“An experience I could have done without—” A smile slowly came to her face as she remembered the particulars of her meeting on the outskirts of Birjand, Iran. “—but it did change me.”

“For the better from what I’ve seen.”

While hearing about her personal improvement from the creature that set her about the road of her life, Deanna was here for other reasons. “There’s something I must do—” She looked passed the hovering blue flame. “May I proceed?”

The flame and heat vanished as the voice once more seemed to emanate from all around. “It would be rude of me to keep you any longer. Fi Amanullah.”

“Thank you, Phoenix.” Deanna didn’t offer a traditional reply, for if there was anything that likely didn’t need Allah’s protection, it was the immensely powerful spirit with whom she’d just conversed. She waited until she was through the library door and proceeding across the first floor landing before emitting an immense sigh of relief: other than her E and A she had encountered The Phoenix only once before, and that meeting turned out to be far more acrimonious—

There wasn’t time to worry about that past event, or the one she just left behind. She stood outside the luminescent outer wall of the hospital. Let’s hope there’s something of interest on the other side.

She thinned the walls and walked inside the ward.

 

We know that most people remember where their E and A was held–yes, I know, at the school, but once you’re alone with The Phoenix you are convinced you’re somewhere else, and that somewhere for Deanna was Majlis al-Jinn, The Meeting Place of the Djinn, which is a huge cave chamber located in Oman:

This one right here, see?

This one right here, see?

If Deanna was frightened of djinn, and she had her E and A in a place where they are reputed to meet, then you can understand why she was crying.  But according to Phee she’s a much better person for it, and look:  she ran into a real one during her Year of Real Life Experience, which means you also now know that djinn are real, and they are out there, and they may give you three wishes–or simply turn your life into a living hell.  Probably a lot more of the later, and even the former could really mess you up.

It also appears that Deanna’s run into The Phoenix while tooling about the astral realm once before, and that meeting didn’t go as well as this one.  Will we ever heard about that time?  Um . . . perhaps?

Deanna’s gonna look over the kids, but there’s something I need to point out.  I’ve stated more than a few times that The Phoenix would show up in the story, and she has during this short scene.  But . . .  Maybe I should let Ol’ Ben explain:

Not The Phoenix Meeting

She’ll be back.

And looking a lot better than Arnold did in Terminator Genisys.

The Book of the Dead

It’s a wonder what two and a half hours will give you.  If you’re me, seventeen hundred and forty-eight words, because that’s what I’ve written this morning for the first scene of Chapter Twenty-Four.  Here I am, down at the local coffee shop, and I’ve been rocking out on ABBA (stop laughing) and pounding out the words.  The scene is not only finished, but after a week of writing it’s a few hundred words shorter than the last chapter.  Really, this is not only the most I’ve written in one sitting, but this is the longest scene I’ve done in some time.

My numbers don't lie.

My numbers don’t lie.

What I’ve done is finish up Helena’s Death March, only in her case she does know about death and being dead–and, as we’re slowly learning, being in the Land of the Dead.  And with her mention of the Veil, we start getting into the final part of this discussion of the deceased–

 

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

Once again Kerry was confronted with a term he’d never heard. “What’s that? Is it like the Curtain?”

“Yes and no. Yes, it’s a demarcation boundary, but no, it’s nothing like the Curtain.” Helena’s tone darken. “The Veil is the edge of our known universe. Once you’re through that you’re out into the space where all the universes reside.”

“The Multiverses.” Kerry was familiar with this concept since it was a popular one in science fiction. “So there are multiple universes?”

“Yes, billions. From what I understand we’ve reached some of them through astral passages that pierce the Veils, but there’s almost no information on those explorations.” The right corner of his mouth turned upward in a half-smile. “As you can imagine.

“But it’s not the universe that are important—it’s the space between. That’s where all the pure magical energy resides, and that’s the one place an astral form can exist without fear of Dissipation. In science, or science fiction, terms, it’s super space; in our experience, it’s where all the dead go for as long as they like.” She spoke in hushed tones. “It’s what we call the Void.

“Everyone who’s ever lived, Normal and Aware, eventually end up in the Void. They haven’t a choice: without the energy there to sustain their astral form, they’ll Dissipate and become background energy. Here you’ll find no heaven or hell: those don’t exist—at least not the way they’ve been discussed by Normals.” Helena stopped acting as if she was involving Kerry in a conspiracy and began speaking in a normal tone. “See, the Void is nothing but magical energy, and since the Aware still know how to bend that energy to their will, they can and do. Over there on the other side of the Veil, you don’t have to worry about running into gods—you pretty much are one.

“It’s said that once you’ve figured out how to pull energy into your form, you can reenter any universe, or even create one of your own. Spend enough time dead, and you can come back and wander around in the physical realm, even. Some Foundation scholars who study these things believe that all the myths pertaining to the various pantheons are actually re-tellings of encounters with the Aware who’ve returned from beyond the Veil and began passing themselves off as deities. It’s entirely possible.”

 

There you go:  when you die, you go to the Void, and there you get to hang with everyone who’s ever lived.  Just imagine that party if you can.  And here is the upshot of being a witch:  you can do things in the Void that all the regular folk can’t.  That pretty much makes you a god, and with that comes the speculation that all the gods and goddesses of mythology were Aware who came back to this universe and decided to set up shop.  And if you don’t like this universe–hey, there’s billions from which to choose!  It remains to be seen if Kerry starts telling Annie, “If someone asks you if you’re a god . . .”

Kerry has a question, and it’s a good question–

 

Though Kerry had never believed in things like deities, Helena’s explanation began opening his mind to how various mythologies may have came about. “How do we know this? Did these, um, things eventually tell us?”

Helena sank into her chair turning grim once again. “If one knows what they’re doing, they can reincarnate—”

He leaned towards Helena’s desk. “Reincarnation’s real?”

“It’s real, but from what I understand it’s difficult as hell. Also, it’s a bit of a crap shoot, because you’ll likely return as a Normal, and once you’ve lived as a witch, it’s rare that you’re gonna want to go through another life being unable to do magic. And apparently, the only ones who can remember the full experience—” She shrugged. “They’re the ones who returned Aware.”

“This is all . . .” Kerry slowly closed his eyes. “There are people who lived here who moved into the space between the Multiverses and created their own universes.”

“Pretty much. There’s some speculation that Dante may have actually somehow entered the three realms he wrote about in The Divine Comedy. It’s entirely possible that someone who knew him found a way to show him the worlds he wrote about.” Helena gazed off to one corner of her office. “Some people think the stories we have of angels and demons come from sightings of Aware who’ve returned. Though when it comes to demons—” She wiggled her eyebrows. “Those are real.”

Kerry’s eyes grew wide. “Are you kidding?”

“Nope. Why do you think we teach Daemonology to some people?” For the first time Helena chuckled. “That’s a discussion better left for another time.”

 

I’ve been asked now and then if there is such a thing as reincarnation in my world, and there’s your answer:  yes, it does.  And angels and demons may be nothing more than dead Aware who’ve come back to do things here, but no one really knows–but demons are real?  Yep.  When will you learn more about that?  When the kids hit their D Levels.  Sorry.  Sure I am.

Now that we know what’s beyond the Veil, it remains to be seen . . .

 

“I agree.” Though it was starting to feel a bit morbid, Kerry wanted to return to the original discussion. “Did you go beyond the Veil?”

A silence fell over the room as Helena changed up her train of thought. “I headed towards the Veil. I felt it getting close. I even expected to find my Portal—” She smiled again, heading off the expected question. “It’s an opening through the Veil, and you’re supposed to recognize it right away as it was something important to you while alive. I did a lot looking for it: I thought about the way I died and all the stuff I did as a Guardian; I thought about my family; I thought a hell of a lot about Erywin. I did all that—but I never found my Portal. Just before I felt it was gonna pop up—” She slapped her hand upon the desk. “I was in a bed with four witches standing watch over my body.

“Found out later they’d worked on me at the hospital for about twenty minutes trying to resuscitate me, and when it became apparent that wasn’t going to work, they sent me to a Resurrection Center, which is a place where there are witches who are really good at bringing people back to life—and if they can’t do it, they get the Necromancers after you.”

Kerry didn’t like the sound of that last. “Necromancers?”

“Witches who not only can walk into Astral Realm, but who know how to pierce the Veil and physically enter the Void so they can find your form and haul it back to the real wold.” For a moment Helena appeared uncomfortable. “Those assholes are scary. Not only can they walk the Void, but they know how to manipulate dead bodies in this world and make them do their bidding.” She shook her head. “Led a team in charge of bringing in a rogue Necro once. When we finally ran her down the crazy bitch threw a couple of dozen zombies at us—total Walking Dead shit.” She managed a light chuckle. “Good thing Annie and you are seasoned zombie hunters.”

Kerry found the concept of being sent out to kill real zombies fairly interesting. “That could be kinda cool in a way.”

“Until you have to do it and you realize they’re trying to kill you for real.”

 

In the last novel Coraline hinted at Resurrection Centers and Necromancers, and while I gave you a little bit of a fill-in on them, Helena confirms this and lets Kerry know that Necromancers can raise the dead, but during one operation she had dozens of zombies tossed at her.  Kerry seems to find the idea of going out zombie hunting kinda fun, though he’s never had to deal with a few dozen shambling his way.  Like Helena says, he could quickly change his tune when he figures out they’re trying to turn him into Walker Chow–

"Better work on your sword skills, you little ginger shit.  We're coming for you and your girlfriend!"

“Better work on your katana skills, you little ginger shit. One day we’re coming for you and your girlfriend!”

Now that he has all this background out of the way, there’s just the aftermath of Helena’s death to cover.

 

He quickly got back on subject. “So how long were you dead?”

“Forty-two minutes.” The chuckle returned. “I know what you’re thinking, no need to comment. There’s something you need to know, though: what I went through that second time, it’s not something they do for everyone. The Foundation wanted me back because they’d just lost a hell of a lot of people in an attack, and they needed to know everything I went through in the lead-up to the meeting. I was the only one from the WTC attack they did this for: everyone else—” She slowly waved her head in the air as if she were slicing it in two. “They stayed dead. And if I hadn’t been in charge of security, I would have as well.”

He let that information sink in for a few seconds. “I understand.” He let out a long, slow breath before speaking again. “When you die and you go over, are you like how you are now?”

“You mean, do you look the same there are you do here?”

“Yeah?”

“Yes, sure. Your aura is a representation of the physical you, so how you look here, you’ll look there.” She tapped her thigh. “Over there I still had my legs; I’m sure I will if I die again.” She slowly moved forward, leaning against her desk. “Kerry, what’s really on your mind?”

 

Yeah, Kerry:  what’s really on your mind?  Helena’s knows by now there’s some crazy spookiness happening here, and she’s hoping to get to the bottom of it.  With the Ginger Hair Boy, that’s easier said than done.

 

He was unresponsive for a bit as he seemed to stare off into space. He snapped back to reality with a quick shake of his head. “Like you said, I’ve come close to dying a few times, but until last month I never really thought about what would happen. I figured you’d know.” Kerry finally turned his gaze upon the sorceress. “I hope this didn’t bother you.”

“Not at all.” She set her right index finger under her lower lip as a slight smile formed. “Hey, us Sentinels gotta look after each other, yeah?”

He did a quick double take. “Sentinels?”

“It’s what we—the Guardians—were almost called at one point. It’s kind of an unofficial nick among us.

He stared off to his left. “Am I really a Guardian?”

“You can knock that shit off—” Helena rested her weight against her desk as she continued in a low, comforting tone. “You know you are.”

 

Yeah, knock it off, Kerry.  Helena wouldn’t be telling you this shit if you weren’t part of the family.

 

He chuckled as he began nodding quickly. “I kinda figured that, but it’s nice to hear.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.”

Kerry got up and looked around as if he was unsure what to do next. “I guess I should head over to the Areodrome; maybe Isis and Annie wanna go flying.”

“Perhaps.” Helena came from behind her desk as Kerry zipped up his coat. “Kerry, you can come and see me any time you like—” She stood next to him, trying not to come off as intimidating. “ But if you ever want to speak with Erywin, you can always see her, too.” She turned a warm smile upon the boy. “She’d like speaking with you.”

Kerry smiled back. “I like speaking with her, too.”

She patted him on the shoulder. “You should find some time for her then.”

“I will.” He glanced downward for just a second. “I’ll see you tonight, I guess.”

“I’m sure we’ll run into each other at the Madness.”

He turned and headed for the door. “Thanks for the time, Professor.”

She crossed her arm. “Helena.”

“Helena.” He smiled for the first time since showing. “Thanks. See you later.” He spun around and header out of the office.

Helena waved the door shut and stood where she was for many seconds, considering the now-completed conversation. There were many things she knew she should do with what she’d heard, and what she suspected, but given there was possibly something else to factor into what had just transpired, she decided that notifying people on the West Coast wasn’t required—nor was there a need to speak to the third member of their little Salem Guardian family.

There was, however, a growing feeling that her brunch with Erywin was going to focus on a certain student . . .

 

Just like Kerry you now know what awaits the Aware when they go to the Great Beyond.  But this also raises a hell of a lot of other questions.  Like, what are ghosts?  Are spirits nothing more than returned Aware?  And what the hell is The Phoenix?  Is she also a returned Aware?  Would she kill you for asking?

It might take some time, but there is an answer for everything.  And, in time, I may even tell them.

The Essential Essence

When I say, “Oh, this should only go for another few hundred words” and “This will finish up just over five thousand words”–I’m a liar.  Really.  Because while I finally finished the scene that I’ve worked on for, oh, seven days, things went on far longer than I expected–

Like a thousand or so words futher.

Like a thousand or so words further than expected.

Yeah, just over sixty-two hundred words, making this the largest scene in the story.  Like I said, Annie and Deanna get together and they start talking–oi!  These ladies can gab.  And they were about to watch some video together, which brings me to thinking:  I would totally love to write a scene where Deanna and Annie are sitting on some pillows, comfy in the jammies, watching Mean Girls and quoting the movie in Arabic and Bulgarian.  “Wal ha a ma.”  “Prestani da se opitvash da donese sluchi:  toĭ ne shte stane.”  A laugh riot, I’m telling you.

We were going to watch something, yes?  Okay, then:  let’s go to the video:

 

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

It picked up with Deanna—who was off screen—mid-way through her initial greeting. “I’m loath to call myself ‘mistress’ of the discipline as some have; the title infers more than makes me comfortable. Come, let’s sit together.”

Annie watched herself step through the mass of pillows that lay on the floor that day. “Thank you. You’re quite kind.”

The off-screen Deanna’s voice remained calm. “Not at all, Annie.”

The shock that on-screen Annie felt was not only apparent, but watching-Annie felt it hit her once more as her past self spoke. “How did you—?” She listened to Deanna’s explanation where she stated the obvious. “You know how I know your name—and how I know Kerry’s, too.” As she’s never seen him react the first time, Annie couldn’t prevent a smile appearing as Kerry’s head snapped around at the mention of his name. “How?”

There was a hint of amazement in Deanna’s voice. “I love how off-balance he was then.”

Annie nodded. “He was.” She heard Deanna say she’d seen them coming, and the ever-so-logical ginger boy on the screen checked his surroundings. “Do you have monitors in here?”

“It’s a good thing I’m used to questions like that—” Deanna spoke over her voice telling Kerry she’d had a vision.

Annie did chuckle at Kerry’s response after she told him that the seer had a vision. “You mean like precognition?” The chuckled turned into a smile as she hear on-screen Deanna confirm Annie’s answer and ask them to sit. “I told him to have an open mind before we showed up. She listened to him attempting to rationalize Deanna’s claim of knowing how they were arriving. “I’m happy he learned fast.”

“Much better than some of your fellow levelmates.” Deanna regarded her memories of that day. “I had a few students that Friday night who needed some hand holding regarding what they saw that day.”

“There was a point, though . . .“ She heard Kerry say he didn’t believe in precognition.

“You were worried he would be the same way?” Deanna signed. “I wasn’t paying attention to him, for in time he would come around.” She looked over to Annie. “I was watching you.”

“Why?” Annie found the seer’s statement surprising. “You knew I was a Legacy—”

“Yes, I read your report, remember?” Deanna’s chuckle verged on laughter. “I was watching how nervous you were. You did a great job keeping it bottled up inside while keeping it hidden.”

Annie was glad Deanna couldn’t see her face, because she knew the woman next to her would had no problem mistaking her look of surprise. “You’re very perceptive.”

“Well, I wasn’t exactly playing fair.”

Now Annie’s curiosity was peaking. “What do you mean?”

 

I wrote all of the above last night while consulting the first novel, so that the words heard–all of the sentences in italics–and actions seen were accurate.  And just like Annie you’re probably saying, “Okay, what’s the big deal?”  Well, I left off one sentence, which starts this next section, followed by what I started writing this morning–

 

“You’ll see—” Deanna turned back to the display on the ceiling. “Sabrina, restart this video to the point I originally indicated, and replay with the aura recording applied.”

The screen went black. “Ready, Deanna.”

“Play the video.”

The scene played out as before, but the biggest change to Annie was how they appeared on-screen, with the bright glow of normally invisible energy surrounding each of their bodies. “You filmed our auras?”

“Apparently.”

Annie silently damned herself for asking a stupid question. “Do you do this for everyone?”

“Sabrina, hold the video.” Deanna waited three seconds after the command before answering. “No. Just you that day.”

“Why?”

“Something I felt in the vision that told me you were coming. There was a sensation that this meeting was important—more implied than stated—and that seeing your auras was necessary.”

Annie didn’t know what to feel at hearing this revelation. Seeing someone’s aura was considered the same as looking into their mind and emotions, as a skilled reader could know volumes about a witch with just a momentary glance. It was then that something Deanna said only a minute before registered— “You said you were weren’t playing fair. Did you use Aura Sight on us?”

Deanna’s answer came immediately. “Yes. I was watching you the whole time that way.”

“Because you felt it was necessary.’

“I felt it was important.” She commanded Sabrina to start the playback, then pointed at the floating screen. “Watch.”

 

You know, when seers get feelings about their visions, it’s a scary thing.  Nearly all visions are literal things:  you see one, and you try to make sense of what you saw.  When you see something and begin getting hunches about something you should do, that’s when you begin wondering what the hell is going on.

And as Annie points out, you see someone’s aura, you seen into them.  Not only can you tell they’re a witch–which is why they were using enchantments to hide those little tells in their auras that might give them away to Deconstructors–but you can tell what they’re thinking and feeling.  It’s one of the things a witch will do to see if someone is lying, because unless the person they’ve speaking to is really damn good at manipulating their aura, the person asking questions can look at the other person’s aura and instantly tell if they’re bullshitting their ass off.  Which instructors can see auras?  All of them.  They only have to use Aura Sight to view them.

Now, point of etiquette.  It’s generally considered bad manners for witches to constantly use Aura Sight to look at another person’s aura while they’re talking to them.  It’s like hooking someone up to a lie detector while you’re having a polite conversation, and witches who constantly do so hoping to call another person out on something are considered assholes of the first order and usually end up getting shunned by the rest of the witch community.  Plus, one witch can use magic to look at the aura of another witch to see if they are using magic–because crafting spells do things to your aura–and if they suspect they’re being watched, well, they’ll just hide their aura and make you go fish.  Because aura hiding is totally something you can do as well–

Oh, and yes:  Guardians know all these little aura tricks.  Which is why trying to find out if Helena is BSing you is an exercise in futility.

Here’s where we get to learn a little about auras:

 

This time Annie paid attention to the glow around Kerry’s and her bodies. Their auras were brilliant and filed with speckles of violet light—both the marks of Aware witches. Kerry’s alternated between an orange-yellow to brownish-orange, while Annie’s flowed from bright pink to orange-yellow to orange-red. “Why does mine have that bright yellow border?”

“That was my tip-off that you had a touch of fear: bright yellow indicates a fear of something—losing control, losing respect—”

Annie looked away from the display for a moment. “Losing someone you love.”

“Exactly.”

“What does the rest mean?”

“The orange-yellow indicates intelligence and confidence, while the bright pink shows affection and love.” Deanna paused to allow Annie to consider what she’d said. “You were looking for answers to what happened over the summer, weren’t you?”

“In a way. I hoped you might . . . see something.” She pointed at Kerry. “What about his?”

“The orange-yellow you know, but in Kerry’s case he was being far more scientific in his assessment of what he was seeing, which is why that color is more vivid for him. As for the brownish-orange . . .” Deanna swallowed loud enough for Annie to hear. “Given the way he was acting, those are his repressed emotions shinning through.”

“Literally.” Annie was astonished by how easily Deanna was able to read their moods and feelings by watching their auras, giving her more reason to learn Aura Sight as soon as possible. “Why have you never shown this to anyone? It doesn’t seem all that startling.”

 

I did a bit of research trying to find an aura interpretation that I liked, and what I eventually found works for me.  I’ll probably even start writing those down as a hand guide to use.  The colors do represent what the kids were feeling at the time:  Kerry was trying to come up for reasons about what he was hearing and seeing–remember, this was the day after their E & A, and his was about as fresh in his mind as it comes–and Annie was looking for something, just as Deanna surmised.

But this isn’t the reason she wanted Annie to see this video–this is:

 

“It’s not.” She pointed at the screen, where Kerry was about to sit next to Annie. “Watch.”

Annie did as instructed. She saw Kerry set down his backpack, move to on-screen Annie’s right, and sit— “I am. What—”

“Sabrina, hold image.” Deanna propped herself up and turned towards Annie. “That’s why I’ve never shown this to anyone.”

The moment on-screen Kerry sat next to on-screen Annie their auras merged and became as one, a combined glow of orange-yellow surrounded by an aural border of emerald green and royal blue. “I don’t understand—”

“The aura of a person is the reading of them essence: your mystical fingerprint, so to speak. It remains yours and is always kept separate from those around you. Even if you’re holding someone in your arms, or laying with them, there is a discernible border that separates yours from theirs.” Deanna rolled over and lay back. “Your auras merged. When I saw it happen that day it took every gram of willpower I possessed not to gasp. It was the most incredible thing I ever witnessed.”

Annie started at the screen. “This doesn’t happen—ever?”

She nodded. “This never happens, even to people who are deeply in love. It’s like your essence merged and became one—” Deanna drummed her fingers against her pillows. “What you’re seeing is impossible. And that’s why I’ve never shown this to anyone . . .” She said nothing more, preferring to leave all further actions implied.

 

Your auras merged.  And when you do something that surprises the School Seer, then you are truly remarkable because you’ve shown someone whose ability is to see things that haven’t happened something they’ve never seen.  Which means that if Deanna was having visions of Annie and Kerry before ever meeting them–and there are indications she was–this was something she never once saw.

I’m not presenting the rest of the scene because . . . well, because thing are said, and I’m not giving anything else away.  At least not until this book is published.  Needless to say Annie learned a big secret about her relationship with her soul mate, and it’s pushed open the door of understanding a little bit.  Not a lot, but enough that people can peek in and begin wondering.

I’ve done enough for today.  I believe my work here is done . . .

Flyby Sight

Hey, no zombie writing today–I actually did that over the last couple of weeks, because there’s nothing to write about this week.  Well, I wouldn’t say nothing . . .  There’s always something.

For example, since I was only one thousand words away from hitting one hundred thirty thousand words last night, and because it was two weeks since I’d reached one hundred twenty thousand, I was like, “What the hell, chick, you gotta do this.”  I got to work and, well . . .

Yeah, I got this shit.

Yeah, I got this shit.

Given that the last scene took four days to write–over a five day period, I should add–I figured I needed to kick my ass into gear and get some stuff done.  Yes, fighting through depression isn’t a nice thing, but hell, kids, I gotta write–right?  Not really, but I did it anyway, because this scene is All About Annie and a place she likes to visit so she can talk to someone she likes.

Let’s go there, shall we?  We shall:

 

 

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

Annie touched down lightly about four meters from the entrance of the Divination Building at Memory’s End. She’d taken off from the Pentagram Garden within minutes after Kerry left after lunch for his pre-race lecture, and was certain no one saw her land under her own power because nearly everyone else was either on their way to The Diamond, already there, or hanging out elsewhere because they weren’t interested in the races.

Not that she was concerned about anyone seeing her using her Flight Gift. The retelling of her Judgment Trial against Lisa’s champion was all over the school by breakfast then next morning, and that evening Vicky and Isis spoke with her while Kerry was off in Advanced Transformation. They let her know that they weren’t unhappy with her “Unveiling” and that it was only a matter of time before the rest of the school became aware she could fly, and they saw nothing wrong with her flying around, as long as she remained inside the outer walls.

 

Now, I should point out something:  Memory’s End is really two buildings.  It’s not always easy to spot on the maps, but when you see it close up, it’s obvious.

Now with 100% more trees!

And now with 100% more trees!

When looking at the picture, the Divination Building is on the right, and the Numerology Building is on the left.  Why are there two buildings for studies that really aren’t that big?  Well, that’s one of the things you’ll discover in this scene.

And if you’re wondering about all these paths, here you go:  the one from the left leads to Gwydion Manor, the one going off the top leads to Astria Portal, the Firing Line, and Observatory Tower.  The one on the right leads to The Witch House, and the one going off to the bottom ends at the main path running between The Witch House and History and Social Studies Building, which is just north of The Pentagram and Åsgårdsreia Tower.  And that little tower-like object on the small path in the bottom-left section, that’s a stairwell leading to the tunnel system below the school.  All roads lead here, it seems.

For a point of reference, when Annie and Kerry visited here the first time, they walked up the path appearing on the bottom of the image frame.  There, now you know more.

And as you can see Annie is able to fly around the school because, what the hell, people saw he doing it, so it’s not like she can hide that any longer.  Let your flying, um, fly.

What waits for Annie here?  This:

 

She stood listening for sounds: walking, coughing, activities of any kind. Nothing. The building was completely silent, even more so with the sounds from outside cut off. Now she was even more uncertain about Deanna being present, but the last thing she wanted to do was call out her name. I’ll sound like a frightened girl in a horror movie, and that’s the last impression I want to make.

She was right in the middle of preparing to walk to Deanna’s office when the seer called out to her. “I’m down here, Annie.”

Annie yanked on the hem of her sweater and headed down to Deanna’s office. She expected to find Deanna sitting cross-legged on one of the various pillows, but found her instead standing before an old-fashioned desk that folded down from a wall cupboard. “Hello, Deanna.” She stood in the doorway and examined the seer, whose outfit of a sweater, jeans, and sneakers matched Annie’s in everything except top color. “I wasn’t certain you were here.”

Deanna finished writing something on a tablet before answering. “I like to come out here after lunch on the weekends because it’s quiet and I can get a lot more done in this office than I can in the coven tower.” She tapped the screen as if to punctuate her statement. “There. All done.”

 

Spooky Muslim Seers be spooky, right?  Of course Annie’s a polite girl and all, but after a while she’s gotta ask the question . . .

 

Annie finally entered the office once she understood Deanna wasn’t going to make the request. “Did you know I was coming?”

Deanna turned towards Annie. “The funny thing about being a seer is that most people never believe you if, once you’re asked a question, you reply in a negative fashion.” She set her right elbow upon the fold-out desk and gently leaned upon the surface. “Everyone believes you see everything, so when you say ‘no’ in way of a response, they immediately assume you’re lying.” She brushed hair back out of her face. “It’s a hell of a thing to have in your life.”

“I can imagine.” She looked directly at Deanna. “Did you know I was coming?”

“Yes, I did.” The seer shrugged. “It doesn’t matter how I knew, the actual reason I came out here to work was to wait for you because I saw you coming out here to speak with me. So I thought I’d better be here when you arrived.” She cocked her right eyebrow upward. “You believe me?”

Before answering Annie considered her current dilemma of accepting that Deanna was speaking the truth, or if she was telling her what she wanted her to hear. It would help a lot if I could read Deanna’s aura—I should work on that next. “I believe you.”

 

Deanna has pulled this a few times on Annie:  knew she was going to show up and called her down the moment she entered the building, or made a remark based upon something that was already on Annie’s mind.  And when Deanna tries to skate on that shit, Annie calls her out once more, and gets an honest answer–or does she?  Why does Annie want to see Deanna’s aura?  Because witches who can see another person’s aura can tell if they’re lying by watching the colors and shades of said aura.  Except really good witches know how to keep their aura from changing, and Deanna’s a really good witch when it comes to not letting people see your inner feelings through your aura, so even if Annie could see it, it’s likely she’d never know if Deanna was bullshitting her or not.

This is one of the reasons when new students arrive instructors can tell if they’re being lied to or not–among other things.  You’ll be surprised what instructors can determine based upon the color and shade of a student’s aura . . .

After a little more back and forth–and once I got in my thousand words–I wrote up just a bit of strangeness:

 

Annie decided to move on to another subject. “I’ve never seen you use that desk before.”

“No, when you’ve been here in the past we’ve sat on the floor; I’m normally not working when you come to visit.”

If you want to call speaking about a problem a “visit”. “Did you have that put in?”

“Me? No.” She set the bag on the floor and folded the desk up into the cupboard and shut the doors. “This desk was put in when the building was constructed in 1804.” Deanna chuckled. “You can thank Crazy Wanda for both of those things.”

Annie gave a surprised laugh. “Crazy Wanda?”

 

"I don't know; does she have mangoes?"

“Who is Crazy Wanda?  Does she have mangoes?”

No, sorry Pupok, she doesn’t have mangoes.  But you’re about to get a history lesson on the school, that much is true.

Maybe tomorrow everyone will get to hear the tale of Crazy Wanda.

Given I’m not doing anything else this morning, it’s highly likely.