Examinations of the Astral Type

Penultimate scene for Chapter Twenty-Seven is finished, and I’m almost ready to move on to the next.  That won’t happen until tonight, and already I’m started the dread at what’s coming.  But now is not the place to get worked up over things that haven’t yet occurred:  concentrate on the now.

I did have an enjoyable time writing during the last evening.  I got into a bit of a grove while grooving out on The Four Tops’ Baby I Need Your Loving, because it brought back a great memory of a flight to Hong Kong, where this same song brought back great memories.  How’s that for getting meta on the meta?  Doesn’t get much more than that.

As I closed out the scene and recorded my word count for the day, I picked up on this unusual situation:

 

Words: 02/21/2016: 401
Words: 02/22/2016: 861
Words: 02/23/2016: 651
Words: 02/24/2016: 691

 

Every night I ended the count on a “1”.  Now I’ve done some strange things before and noticed some strange coincidences, but this was the first time I believe this has happened.  Maybe something is playing with me?  Naw, no spirits keeping an eye on me.

Speaking of those last six hundred and ninety-one words, here’s what they look like:

 

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

Within the confines of the hospital ward the astral plain appeared even brighter than the library. It was because this area was associated with life and healing, and even the deaths that had occurred here over the decades couldn’t dampen the brightness left behind by so many lives made better. Deanna looked to her right and saw Nurse Gretchen sitting in Coraline’s office. She didn’t have an aura because Gretchen, like all artificial people, wasn’t a living being, but the dark shape of her body sprinkled with the few bright points of astral light produced by the enchanted implants that allowed her to perform various kinds of magic.

Deanna wasn’t bothered that any of the alarms used to tell Coraline and her staff that someone was inside the ward would detect her. There were two separate systems to tell if someone were trying to open the Curtain on any of the hospital floors, but there weren’t any enchantments looking for people physically walking this realm, for they weren’t required. First they’d have to make their way inside the school walls— She made her way towards the first floor ward corridor. And then they’d have to make their way past our Guardian and Protector

Though the privacy curtain to Bay #1 was visible as an astral mist, it wasn’t necessary for Deanna to make it insubstantial so she could see the glowing auras on the other side. They were together in Bed #2 and the low, steady glow of their auras told her they were asleep. But she needed a better, closer look, and there wasn’t any possibly she’d get that standing here in the ward corridor—

She passed through the curtain and stood between the beds as she gazed down upon the children. Standing this close Deanna could just make our their physical forms—Kerry on his back with Annie on his right side, tucked away in the crook of his arm—on the other side of the Curtain, but it was their astral aspect that intrigued her more. Like seen in the video recorded at Memory’s End, their auras were as one with no sign of a separation boundary, possessing identical colors and hues.

 

In the astral plain it’s just possible to make out a person’s physical aspect, and now you know that artificial people like Nurse Gretchen are just dark outlines with little bright spots where implanted enchantments allow them to do magic.  That’s how the nurses are able to teleport and do that thing where they whip the clothes off one’s body.  Pretty much all of them get that treatment, but the ones who work at the school–and unlike house elves, the school’s APs are actually paid for their service–tend to get a few more magical doodads implanted inside their bodies because it’s necessary.

As we’ve already seen the kids are asleep next to each other–

Pretty soon they'll just put a plaque with Kerry's  name on this sucker--

Maybe the school hospital should have a special bay with just one bed reserved for these two–

–and Deanna’s seeing the crazy aura mingling she’s seen before.  There are also the colors, and they get her to wondering:

 

The pink she understood: it represented love and affection, and the brightness of that primary color showed their feelings for each other. It was the other colors that she found puzzling, because the lights of bright yellow indicated a fear of losing control, while violet pertained to magic, particularly visions. She moved around the bed, taking in the merged aura from other angles and confirmed there weren’t variations in the colors and brightness between Annie and Kerry.

They share everything, even the emotional charges that flow through their bodies out to their auras. She made her way to the end of the and examined the couple. Why the yellow and violet? Why do they both express the same compassion, ideas, and fears? She crossed her arms and sighed. When they are like this I see how Annie might feel the terror Kerry felt in his dream if they were like this, but in the coven their auras don’t reach that far. What allowed her to hear him? What am I missing?

After ten seconds of silent contemplation the epiphany Deanna hoped for struck her hard. There was something missing.

She moved around to Annie’s side of the bed and leaned over the astral forms looking for the part of their aspect that should be easily visible. After making certain that what she sought wasn’t stuck under their bodies she examined the spaces between them. Annie was turned slightly towards Kerry which made a direct examination of the front of her body difficult, but there wasn’t any possibility Deanna would bother the sleeping girl.

There was nothing under her chin, nothing at her neck, nothing—

“There.” She pinched her fingers around the found object, confirmed where it started and started following it away—

“What?” Deanna leaned even closer, almost setting her face against the children’s auras while tugging gently upon the object. “So that’s how it happens.” She straightened and smiled while slowly shaking her head. “Makes complete sense now.”

 

How what happens?  And what makes sense?  Sure, I’m not telling you right now what Deanna found, because that would be cheating.  But she figured out something, and it’s going to play an important part in a later scene, and even in a later chapter.

But first, I gotta get the Brain Trust together and see what they figure out.  While I may dread writing that part, it’s also gonna be fun.  And when I consider I’ve had this scene inside me for about three years, it’s about time for it to come out and see the light of day–

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.

Passages Beyond the Curtain

Well, now, things went strangely sideways, didn’t they?

Yesterday I meet with my doctor, who told me I was “disgustingly healthy” except for my weight, which could stand to drop a bit.  But there was a bit of bad news:  the company that makes my hormones, liquid estradiol, actually, decided they were going to stop making it, and now I’m sort of scrambling to find someone to fulfill my prescription, since it required “blending” which is a fancy way of saying, “I have no idea what they’re doing.”  So far none of the chain pharmacies handle this stuff, and I’ve a few more places in Harrisburg to check before I start hitting the Internet and looking for an on-line supplier.

This is the sort of bullshit trans people put up with.  There’s something I need, but no one supplies it, and when they do a six month supply will likely run me three hundred dollars or more.  I will figure it out, though, because I’ve been reminded many times, bitches get shit done.

Speaking of getting stuff done, Deanna’s off on a walk, and we’re off

 

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

The walls of Åsgårdsreia Tower appeared as dim outlines of gainsboro embossed with shining silver and glowing gold amide the bright orange, crimson, blues, yellows, and pinks that composed the astral plain. Despite the nearly two dozen times she’d performed an Astral Walk, Deanna never tried of the colorful beauty. On the last day of February, 2010, she’d accompanied Harpreet to Hyderabad, India, to celebrate Holi with a few of the instructors friend, and Deanna’s best memory of that time was being showered in colored powder for hours while dancing at one of the local resorts.

The astral plain was like Holi magnified a thousand fold, only without the powder. It wasn’t needed: here there were other things to make the world interesting.

Deanna checked her astral armor and confirmed it in place. She smiled as her memories took her back to the last Samhain dance and she wished Kerry could see her now, for he’d instantly recognize the lightly glowing outfit that seemed to replace her abaya and gave her the appearance of one of her coven’s fabled shield maidens. She felt her astral sword in it’s scabbard and confirmed she could raise her astral shield a just under a second. Satisfied of her own protection, she willed the walls and ceiling of the tower to before insubstantial, and walked from her office and through the walls of the tower.

Everything in the astral plain possessed the same firmness as its counterpart in the physical realm: it was one of the reasons why she wasn’t falling through the floor and into the tower’s lower levels. But someone who could manipulate the astral essence could turn a solid astral wall into mist and pass through it as if it weren’t there. Deanna did that now: she made her way out of the tower, walked through the wall door leading to the north garden, then propelled herself upward through the walkway roof before touching down lightly upon the roof peak.

Deanna’s path was simple: out of the tower, up onto the walkway cover, then a jump through the enormous windows of the school library’s north wall of glass, then through the library, across the first floor overlooking the Rotunda, and into the hospital. She started up at the shimmering blue and pink windows set against the dark silver of the Great Hall’s astral aspect. A moment of hesitation hit her before she pushed it aside and soared into the air towards the building. She passed gently through the windowed wall and landed without difficulty.

The library was a mass of luminous slits, each volume possessing the magical energy of their creator and the residual energy of every reader. She wanted to examine the volumes on divination that Kerry read during his A Levels just to see if there were anything different about there aspect, but that was something that could wait for later, for the astral realm wasn’t a place for casual observers. There were things in the realm, and Deanna had found it necessary to defend herself on a few occasions when exploring.

She wasn’t worried about being set upon by one of the various denizens of the astral realm, however, for the area within the walls of Salem were among the safest in the world. And that was because this area was jealously guarded—

“What are you doing here, Seer?”

 

First, gainsboro is a shade of gray, and you’re welcome that you now know that.  Then there’s the comment about Holi, which is a festival that usually runs somewhere from the end of February to the middle of March.  It’s the Hindu spring festival, but it’s also known as the festival of colours or the festival of Sharing love, and many non-Hindus partake in the celebration simply because it’s a hell of a lot of fun.  They’re running, there’s singing, there’s dancing, and, yeah, a lot of powder thrown around covering everything and everyone, covering people in a multitude of colors for the day.

Sort of like this.

Sort of like this.

Now imagine that it’s all glowing and looking misty like something out of a crazy fantasy, and you get the idea about what Deanna is seeing.  Oh, and you now know she loved being covered in many colored powder and dancing.  She does know how to cut loose now and then.

Where she’s at is right here:

Oh, look:  it's a covered walkway leading from a tower to the Great Hall.

Oh, look: it’s a covered walkway leading from a tower to the Great Hall.

Åsgårdsreia Tower is on the left, the Great Hall is on the right, and Deanna’s standing on top of the walkway looking up at windows that I just wasn’t good enough to install in my model when I first created it, but they are there.  So you know, most of that curving north wall of the Great Hall Library is nothing but windows, sitting above rows and rows of books.

When it comes to this astral armor she crafted–do you remember her Samhain costume?  The one that Kerry said made her look like Lady Sif from the Marvel comics and movies?

"Read your fortune?  Run you through?  Makes no different to me."

You know–this one?

That’s pretty much Deanna, only her armor is kinda glowing and her sword is in a sheath, and her shield is one of those that you just create in a moment because it’s, you know, magical.  Oh, and she’s wearing a kind of helmet, too.  This is why Deanna was smiling, because she knows Kerry would recognize it right away.

Naturally this behooves the question:  why does one need protection when they are walking about the Astral Plain?  Deanna said she didn’t need to worry about being attacked by one of the denizens of this world, because the area around Salem is safe.  Which is to say it’s clear.  Which is to say something is keeping it clear.

Which is to say there remains something keeping watch over the area.  And guess what?  It’s awake . . .

 

Shit. Deanna didn’t have to look around to see if there was another person in here, for there were two things that told her the identity of the speaker. First, the voice seemed to come from all around, and second, they spoke perfect Arabic, and except for a few students she was the only native speaker who was also an adult.  Besides, this speaker isn’t a person . . . She straightened her back and looked straight ahead as she replied in the same language. “I didn’t realize I’d wake you.”

“And why would you assume I was sleeping?” She could almost see the hidden smile in the chuckle that followed. “Even if I were to sleep, I’d know whenever a human enters my realm.” The mirth vanished as the tone turned cold. “What are you doing here, Deanna? This is well beyond the time of your rest.”

I wonder if Adric knows she keeps track of our sleep habits? She held up her chin. “I’m investigating.”

“Hum.” There was a low hum that Deanna would almost image was throat clearing. “And what are you investigating?”

Deanna decided she didn’t need to tell the school’s benefactor everything. “There’s something here I need to see.”

“Now what could that be? It’s not as if there’s anyone or anything of interest here tonight—” There was another chuckle. “Oh, wait: there is something here.”

“And that would be?”

“You’re looking for auras. Or perhaps just one?”

Deanna closed her eyes and sighed. “If you know something why don’t you tell me?”

“That’s now how I work, Deanna; you know that.”

“Maybe if you told us something about you once in a while, we wouldn’t have to guess at your motivations all the time.”

There was no denying the laugh this time. “Where’s the fun in that?”

 

Right there is what I needed because it was getting close to the time to relax, but I’ll get back to this tonight, because finishing this scene is something I need to do.

I mean, I left you and my seer hanging, and that wasn’t nice of me–

But like a certain naughty entity, I guess that’s the way I work.