On Beyond the Curtain: Taking Over

A lot of writing has happened this weekend, and a lot more will happen before this day is out.  I’ve already written about six hundred words in two different stories, and later this afternoon–after a movie and dinner–I have one TV recap to write and another to start.  This is likely going to be the busiest writing day in a long time for me.

It’s what I do, right?  Sure it is.

Four days or writing have brought me to about twenty-three hundred words in the current scene, and since we’re near the end of the last one, today you get the last seven hundred and fifty words of that.  And since I’m fairly certain that most of you want to see what happens next, let’s get into the action…

 

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

 

The flame contracted and shrank until it was approximately the size and shape of a human. Over the course of several seconds limbs and features began to appear as the flame took on a humanoid appearance. After another five seconds it became readily apparent the creature was shaping itself into something that was approximately the shape and size of the two Salem students. A few seconds more was all it needed to change its form—

Annie heard Kerry’s sharp intake of breath the moment The Phoenix—for there was no other creature this could be—finished transforming. For The Phoenix decided it wasn’t going to appear as just any person: it had decided to take on the appearance of Kerry’s soon-to-be female self dressed in a Salem school uniform with Cernunnos coven markings.

The Phoenix straightened her school uniform jacket and gave it a quick tug to set the shoulders before turning to Deanna. “There, much better. Now then, let’s see…” She slowly approached Kerry, who was standing rock still in seemed almost afraid to move. She closed until she was only half a meter from him, at which point she stared up at him for nearly five seconds, never breaking eye contact. She finally began slowly twisting and turning her head from side to side, doing it for another five seconds before speaking. “It’s like looking in a mirror, only… not.”

Kerry drew in a breath and exhaled loudly. “Yeah, thanks for that observation, John Travolta.” Though he appeared in control, the flaring in his aura indicated he was feeling agitated. “You know you can back away just a bit; I’d feel a lot better if you did.”

The Phoenix straightened herself but didn’t step back. “In case you hadn’t noticed, Kerry, the concept of personal space is one with which I’m not that well versed.”

 

For any of those people who have no idea what’s going on in the exchange between The Phoenix and Kerry, here’s your explanation.  What The Phoenix said is a direct quote from the movie Face/Off, the entirely gonzo John Woo movie from 1997 starring Nicolas Cage and John Travolta as a criminal and a FBI agent who exchange faces and, therefore, lives.  The flick is totally bonkers and so far off the rails you’re in a completely different country before you know it, but God dammit if it isn’t a fun movie.  The statement made by The Phoenix is the one John Travolta makes to Nicolas Cage upon their first meeting after switching lives, which is why Kerry responded the way he did.

And why did she do that?  Because if there’s one thing The Phoenix knows how to do, it’s push buttons.  And in the case of the soon-to-be Ginger Hair Girl, she is turning up the discomfort to eleven.  Something the significant other instantly notices–

 

Though aware The Phoenix loved playing psychological mind games, Annie didn’t see the rationale for it now. “Your current form is disturbing him. Why do you have to appear that way?”

“Because I can.” Though she didn’t raise her voice, The Phoenix’s tone let everyone know she wasn’t about to suffer fools gladly. “For someone who’s a particularly smart girl, you certainly ask some stupid questions from time-to-time, Annie. I expect better of you than that.”

Annie changed the line of questioning, as it wasn’t her intention to get into an argument with a creature likely thousands of years old. “Why are you here?”

“That’s an easy question to answer: I just stopped by to see how you’re doing.” She finally stepped away from Kerry and turned to face Deanna, who is not taking a position to Kerry’s right. “Were you hoping to get in and out before I noticed you were here? Is that it?”

“It’s impossible to enter the Astral Realm without you noticing.” The instructor chuckled. “Speaking of asking ridiculous questions—”

The Phoenix shrugged. “I’m allowed ask them. After all, you are in my home. And if I’m not allowed ask ridiculous questions here, where can I ask them?” The spirit turned to her right and appeared to examine Annie and Kerry closely. “And I wouldn’t be much of a host of I didn’t show them around.” She glanced back at Deanna. “I’ll take them from here, Seer.”

 

The other thing The Phoenix doesn’t do well is suffer fools, and she knows both these kids are smart.  Which is why she immediately jumps and Annie’s ass for asking a question for which she likely knows the answer.  I mean, Annie is one of two people we know of who are quite aware of what happened in her E and A, so she knows what kind of psychological mind games the spirit will play.  Therefore, asking why she’s doing something is sort of a futile and not-so-smart question.

And now our favorite guardian and protector wants to take Deanna’s charges off her hands.  Deanna may not be quite down with that, however–

 

Deanna’s jaw tightened as she swallowed. “I think it would be best if I stay with—”

The Phoenix half turned her head in the direction of the instructor and spoke in a low, ominous tone. “I wasn’t asking.”

There was nothing she could say and way of rebuttal: Deanna knew arguing with The Phoenix was futile. Instead, she moved closer to her students and spoke in a friendly, relaxed tone. “I’m going to return to Memory’s End; I’m sure I’ll be summoned when she’s finished.” She reached out and patted them both on their shoulders. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine: nothing’s going to happen to you. I’ll see you soon.” She took a step back, rose perhaps six meters straight up, then headed back along the same path they had come.

Once The Phoenix was certain they were alone she turned toward her new charges. “Okay, then—” She gave a quick nod and spun around on her heel until she was facing to the south. With a quick wave of her left hand she motioned for Annie and Kerry to follow. “Let’s go for a walk.”

 

The Phoenix is certainly not used to hearing the word “no”, and she certainly is going to take it from a human.  Deanna is smart enough to know that The Phoenix probably won’t hurt the kids, but she still worried just enough to leave a touch of doubt in everyone’s mind.  After all, the Phoenix has been known to bash kids around during their B and A, so why might she not be in the mood to slap Annie and Kerry around a little?

I guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if that happens.

On Beyond the Curtain: A Visitor Calls

Happy Not Mexican Independence Day, where a whole lot of Americans will use this as an excuse to get drunk.  Which they really don’t need—the excuse, that is–but you can write off the guilt a lot easier if you say you got hammered on Don Julio because it was Cinco de Mayo.

Now we come to an interesting point in my novel.  I’ve been teasing for a while the appearance of a certain–character.  Well, it’s about time to stop the teasing.  And before that happens, we need a set up–

 

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

 

After passing through the library wall with Deanna’s help, Annie and Kerry floated down from the first floor to the main floor of the Rotunda. Just as they had seen in the library, the physical presence of students walked by and spectral fashion, their auras bright in the strangely pink and maroon hues that outlined the familiar locale. Annie watched one student heading from the North Passage towards the Dining Hall walk by close enough that she could’ve touched her back in the Physical Realm. “What would happen if one of the students walked into us?”

Deanna needed a moment to clear her throat before speaking. “You wouldn’t feel a thing: you can’t physically interact with an individual in the Physical Realm unless you’re exceptionally proficient with certain magics. On the other hand, if a person in the Physical Realm encounters an individual in the Astral Realm, to feel a momentary discomfort; momentary chill will pass to their bodies—”

Kerry picked up on this right away. “Is that like the feeling you get when you’re told someone’s walked on your grave?”

Deanna nodded. “That’s exactly the feeling.”

“I’ve felt that a couple of times.”

Annie affixed him with a stare. “So have I.”

Before Deanna could answer the sibilant voice seemed to come from all around them. “Haven’t you ever wondered how your Foundation has managed to observe you before you came to school?” There was an all encompassing low chuckle. “Seer, I thought you would’ve told them by now.”

Annie glanced at her instructor. “Is that who I think it is?”

 

Yes, it’s exactly who you think it is.  Who else could it be?

Now, coming up it something that took me some time to work out, as there is this conversation between Deanna and The Phoenix, and since we saw them speaking in Arabic in the last novel, guess how they converse in this one?  In the novel I probably wouldn’t translate what they’re saying–or maybe I would and/or should–but here I’m gonna cut you some slack and show you what they’re saying.

That said, it’s time for a little human-on-spirit conversation…

 

A towering orange flame three meters in height appeared at Kerry’s right a few meters away. There was another chuckle before the voice began speaking in an unfamiliar language. “’Araa ‘annak qad qarrarat ‘an takhudh al’atfal lilnnazhat.”  (I see you’ve decided to take the children for a walk.)

Deanna faced the flame while seeming a bit nervous. “Not that it’s any of your concern.”

The voice continued speaking in the unknown language. “Kl ma yahduth huna hu qalbi.”  (Everything that happens here is my concern.)

“Okay, I’ll give you that. Could you at least speak to us in English?”

This time the chuckle was more of a laugh. “Wayunkur lak alqudrat ealaa alttahadduth ‘iilaa shakhs yaerif lghtk?”  (And deny you the ability to speak to someone who knows your language?)

Deanna turned to her students with an exasperated sigh. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to take care of this.” She turned back to the flame and began speaking in the same language. “Baldbt ma tarid?”  (What exactly do you want?)

The flame’s tone seemed to soften. “’Ana gharibat limadha qarrarat ‘ann tajlub lahum fi alana. hal ymkn ‘an antazarata, kama taelamuna.”  (I’m curious as to why you decided to bring them in now. You could’ve waited, you know.)

Deanna tossed her head back toward her students. “Hal haqa? Kunt taerif min hum hadhin?”  (Really? You do know who these two are?)

“’Ana mudrik tamamaan min hum, Albasirat.”  (I’m well aware of who they are, Seer.)  (Note:  In Arabic the word “Seer”, as I’m using it, doesn’t really have meaning, so The Phoenix is actually saying “Visionary”.)

“Thumm taelamun alaintizar mae hdhyn lays khiara.” (Then you know waiting with these two is not an option.)  She snorted. “La takun munfatihatan jidda.”  (Don’t be so obtuse.)

The flame grew in intensity, leaping up maybe another meter as it seemed to lean towards Deanna in a threatening move. “Sawf tafeal jayidaan lilhifaz ealaa alllisan almadani fi fmk, Albasir. lla yanbaghi li ‘an ‘adhkurkum min jmye alnnas ‘an hadhaan hu baladi alealam wa’ant kl dyf. ‘Iidha ‘aradtt dhlk—”  (You would do well to keep a civil tongue in your mouth, Seer. I shouldn’t have to remind you of all people that this is my world and you are all guest. If I so desired—)

“’Ant ln tafeal shiyaa.” (You would do nothing.)  Deanna tone turned belligerent and she grew more animated as her hands began moving about. “’Ana mudrik jayidaan lilssultat alty tahammuluha huna, walakunni ‘aydaan ‘adrak jayidaan ‘annah ‘iidha kunt satafeal shayyanaan balnsbt lana, kan yumkin ‘an yahduth hatta alana. Waqf mae hadhih alttahdidat alssakhifat walttakhawif. ‘Annaha la taemal ealaa li, wa’annaha ln taemal ealaa hdhyn li’annaha la ymkn ‘an nafham kalimatan laenatan nuqul.”   (I’m well aware of the power you hold here, but I am also well aware that if you were going to do something to us, it would have happened by now. Stop with these ridiculous threats and intimidation. It doesn’t work on me and it isn’t going to work on these two since they can’t understand a damn word we’re saying)  She straightened herself and stared up at where one would imagine one would find the face. “Sawf tafeal jayidaan ‘an nafham ‘ann kl ma ‘aquluh hu alhaqiqat.”  (You would do well to understand that everything I am saying is the truth.)

There was a considerable pause as the flames seem to back away from Deanna and turned its attention toward Annie and Kerry. Finally there was a sound similar to that of a chuckle, though it was low and guttural. “You’re right, Seer. So instead of doing nothing, perhaps I should do something…”

 

It’s not often we get to see another instructor speak in their native language, but this will pop up from time-to-time with other instructors as well.  It’s just a matter of finding the right time to bring it on stage.

And now we have all the players here.

All that remains is to see where they go.

On Beyond the Curtain: Behold the Ghostly Hall

As you may know it was my birthday yesterday, and I was out.  Not out of it, but out after work.  Since I’m all about sharing my life, here you go:

 

First, dinner.  Stuffed quail on a lemon risotto.

And home-made strawberry shortcake.

Here I am enjoying my first of two glasses of wine.  Yes, I don’t look happy.  That’s because I was by myself–again–and I wasn’t feeling the love.  However, right after this the Physician General of the state, Dr. Rachel Levine, came in to have dinner with a friend, and after we chatted a bit she wished me a happy birthday.  So I had that going for me.

After dinner I headed over to the Midtown Cinema to watch Your Name, the highest grossing anime in Japan and an incredible movie.  It didn’t turn out to be anything like I was expecting and I spent most of the last half of the movie trying to keep from crying.  If you can, see this.  And see it in the original Japanese:  it’s funny hearing some of the voice acting in the movie.

 

Life is out of the way for now, so let’s get back to fantasy.  And that means doing a bit of sightseeing in the Astral Realm:

 

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

 

Kerry glanced over, keeping his eyes focused on her. “Sounds like a faint whistling or hissing, yeah?”

“Yes.”

Deanna fielded this as she knew the answer. “That’s the Astral Wind. Anytime you’re out in the open it’s audible.”

“But what is it?”

“It’s the flow of mystical energy within the Astral Realm.” Deanna looked about. “As I told you earlier, were surrounded by mystical energy. It flows everywhere through the Astral Realm; in a sense it acts as the wind for this world. Every once in a while you’ll feel a light stinging on your face: that’s mystical energy brushing against you.”

Kerry appeared to relax now that he was growing more used the floating free without a broom below him. “Is this where the astral weather comes from? Mystical energy gathering and forming patterns?”

“That’s exactly where it comes from. And it’s a lot like the weather back in the Physical Realm: it can cause a mild inconvenience, or it can become a devastating force. When it’s the later you don’t want to be around.” She examined Kerry closely. “You think it’s okay if I let go of your hand?”

He nodded. Diana released her grip on him slowly and pulled her hand back only a few centimeters, ready to grab him in a second if it looked as if he was about to fall. Kerry took a deep breath, closed his eyes, that open them slowly as he nodded. “I got this.”

Annie floated up alongside him. “You’ll be just like me here.”

He laughed. “I’ll never be just like you.”

“Now that he’s acclimated—” Deanna pointed off in the direction of the ghostly Pentagram and Great Hall. “Let’s head over there. Ready?”

 

There is weather in the Astral Realm and it can get pretty nasty.  There will be a scene late in Act Three where you’ll get a chance to see just how bad it can get.  Which means we’ll be back in this area then, because how else do you see this weather, yeah

Now that Kerry can float about on his own, let’s go and look around…

 

As they moved off Deanna took the lead while Annie instinctively fell in behind Kerry. He flew forward well: she had only taken up position behind him to ensure that if he began to falter she could help him along. That didn’t happen, however, and he had no difficulty keeping up.

Perhaps a minute later Deanna touched down on the roof of the Great Hall’s library. With a smile she took her student’s hands and floated downward through the cavernous library to a soft landing on the first floor. She stepped away so she could face the children. “Take a look around. Notice anything unusual?”

Annie was certain Kerry noticed the same thing as she: not only were they surrounded by the ghostly structure of the Great Hall’s library, but there were also a dozen ghostly apparitions surrounded by their brilliant auras situated at various locations around the room. “Those are the students.”

“Exactly.” Deanna pointed to sitting at a nearby table apparently conversing with each other. “From here all you see is the individual’s physical outline and their aura, but one should closer it can actually make out the features. And when you become adept at reading auras, you could stand here and know exactly what they’re feeling as they converse.”

“You can see the lifelines, too.” Kerry looked at Annie. “I didn’t realize I could see ours, too. Or yours.”

“You don’t notice it because you too busy observing everything around you.” Deanna stood facing his students, her hands crossed in front of her. “I’m certain you both noticed your auras as soon as you entered the realm, and then immediately put it out of your mind. It’s the same sort of reaction you have when you check yourself in the morning before leaving the coven, and then you pay no attention to your appearance the rest of the day.”

Annie chuckled. “Or until someone points out something wrong.”

Both Deanna and Kerry laughed, with Deanna responding to the quip. “That’s so true.” She pointed toward the far wall of the library into the Rotunda beyond. “Let’s head over here.”

 

Snooping kids who know how to get into the Astral Realm could be a real pain in the butt if no one is watching them.  One has to assume that Deanna isn’t dishing everything about how the Realm works, because–well, instructors need to have a few secrets.

Speaking of secrets, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say we may meet someone else tomorrow…

On Beyond the Curtain: Getting Into the Open

Something interesting happened yesterday.  No, not my mermaid story, where I cranked out a couple of scenes–about twelve hundred words–in a couple of hours, then wrote almost six hundred more in the novel after that.  No, this is different.

See, with this next scene I have a certain spirit who’s shown up to chat.  At some point she refers to other spirits like her, which meant I really needed to know the names of those other spirits.  And it developing their names–

I now know the real name of The Phoenix.

Yes, she has a real name.  Will you ever discover it?  Probably not.  But I know who she is and that’s what matters.

Now, she hasn’t shown up yet.  That’s mainly due to my kids still being stuck back at Memory’s End.  But that’s about to change…

 

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

 

Kerry’s thoughts were still on something Deanna had said a few moments earlier. “So, could you actually create physical structures here using mystical energy?” He pointed to her sword. “I don’t mean just your weapon or your armor: I mean, like, could you make a house here?”

Deanna nodded. “Yes, you could. It would take some time but it’s entirely possible. Now, I want you to listen closely… As you can see, I’m floating rather easily in mid air. There is no trick to this: one can move about in the air as easily as Annie does with her Flight Gift. In actuality, it’s much closer to how one moves about when they’re dreaming—”

Annie didn’t need for further elaboration as she understood Dreamwalking well. “So, you just will yourself to fly and you do?”

“It’s as simple as that. The biggest difference between flying here and doing what you do in the Physical Realm is that your top speed here is not much more than perhaps sixty kilometers an hour.” She motioned towards both children. “Go ahead, try this. Annie, it should come easy to you; Kerry, you may have to work at it a bit, but I’m certain you’ll get it.”

Annie was hovering seconds later, aided by her Flight Gift. She did notice, however, they going into a hover took almost no effort; she barely even considered performing the action before her feet left the ground.

She watched Kerry out of the corner of her eye, eager to see how well he’d hover. While he had no difficulty levitating objects, Annie had rarely seen him use limitation on himself other than in the few instances where he needed to rise maybe a meter or two off the ground in order to retrieve something on a high shelf. She wasn’t surprised to see him rise off the ground: she was surprised, however to see him move side to side as easily as she did when using her Gift.

She spun to face him. “How do you feel?”

“It feels great.” He moved up then down, trying to get a better feel for his mobility. “Now I know how you feel when you’re doing this.”

“And you look a bit like Annie when you’re doing that.” Deanna move slightly forward and leaned so that her body was sticking halfway through the outer wall of Memory’s End. She held out her arms. “Take my hands so I can phase you through the wall.”

Annie took hold of the in his right hand as Kerry was reaching for her left. A moment later Deanna pulled them through the wall, allowing Annie to feel the tingling strangeness that came with passing through a physical structure that wasn’t really there. The moment they were outside Annie looked around and realized that the sky was far more brilliant than originally envisioned, something she put down to having been inside the building. The colors were far more brilliant, the contrast more vivid, the movement of the astral sky far easier to perceive. There was also something else… “What’s that sound?”

 

In the Astral Realm anyone can Fly Like Annie, but they still have to learn how to phase through walls.  Give them time:  pretty soon they’ll be as good as Wednesday.

But it won’t happen tomorrow.  Believe that.

On Beyond the Curtain: Getting An Understanding

The middle scene of Chapter Twelve was put in the book bank last night.  It was another seven hundred words, which brought the scene to a bit over thirty-six hundred words, which was a lot longer than I imagined it’d turn out when I first starting putting this together.  It’s funny how that works out.

Meanwhile I’m looking pretty sharp today.  Believe it or not I’m running a meeting today and I wanted to look my best.  And I do:

I’ve been “thinking through” the next scene and, damn, I’m coming up with something that’s gonna be strange.  I keep saying that, but so far this present scene has been pretty strange, so I gotta ramp it up for the next scene to come.  And that also means doing some research this afternoon…

Speaking of the strange, let’s get into that:

 

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

 

Annie quickly picked up on the need for such items. “So there are things in the Astral Realm for which we need to protect ourselves.”

Deanna nodded. “Of course there are. There are always spirits floating about within the realm, but the things you have to worry about the most are Phantasms and Wraiths. While one is more dangerous than the other, they can both cause you harm.”

Annie and Kerry exchange looks, with Kerry being the one to ask the question. “What are those?”

“Those are creatures that we are going to discuss at a later date. But for now—” She nodded toward the outer wall on her left. “It’s time to venture outward. Follow me.”

Deanna headed across the room to the west wall. Like the floor the wall was completely translucent, allowing everyone to see the spectral outlines of trees. She faced her students while motioning to all around her. “Even though were in the Astral Realm, we are still connected to the Physical Room. It’s a tenuous connection, but it’s one that has to exist, for if it didn’t none of us would be able to perform magic. That means that whenever your inside the Astral Realm, and you’re close to certain edifices in the Physical Realm, you’ll find those edifices possess a limited amount of physicality here. As you can see—” Deanna stomped her right foot twice on the floor, then rapped her knuckles against the wall. “Memory’s End is all around us, even though it isn’t exactly here with us in this world.”

Annie raised her hand and quickly asked a question. “Will we see this with every building?”

The seer shook her head. “Those structures that possess a greater quantity of mystical energy tend to be more visible in the Astral Realm. It’s one of the reasons why you can walk through areas of Europe and Asia and see structures everywhere, while you could walk through most of North America and see only a few structures.

“Now, it is true that we can still feel the building around us. However—” Deanna took three steps backwards and moved through the outer wall. Instead of plummeting to the ground she appeared to hover in the air. “Just because you can see and feel something doesn’t mean it’s impenetrable.”

Annie and Kerry exchanged smiles before Annie spoke. “What did you do to get through the wall?”

“Oh, just a bit of magic.” Deanna held up her hands as she smiled. “I’m afraid I’m oversimplifying the matter. You see, here the Phase spell is easy to craft because nothing truly has a physical presence—except that which you can create using mystical and dark energies. Anything which we encounter that was created within the Physical Realm is already somewhat insubstantial to us, so being able to pass through those structures becomes rather simple.”

“Once you know how to craft the spell.”

“Exactly. I intend on teaching you how to craft the spell, though I must warn you, the version you will learn from me can only be used here.”

 

Now you know how it is that there are certain things you can see in the Astral Realm–and you learn that not everything exist there.  So if one were to walk through a new housing development and all the homes were standing out in the Astral Realm, there would have to be something there causing that to happen.  Like being built on an old burial ground, maybe?

Tomorrow we’ll learn a little more, and maybe even get a visitor.  Maybe.

Beyond the Curtain: Making It Part

Well, I made it through yesterday in one piece. Sort of.  Honestly, after walking two and a half miles yesterday I actually felt worse than I did walking ten and a half miles the Saturday before.  I think the biggest difference was that yesterday it was in the mid-80s F/30 C with a bit of humidity, and I wasn’t doing a very good job of staying hydrated.  Fortunately, the air conditioning is now working in my apartment, so after a nice shower I just sort of lead in my chair and watch television.

Also, because I am spent most of the day holding a rather large sign, I wasn’t able to take a lot of photos.  It doesn’t mean I didn’t get a photo taken–

See, right there.  Out doing the protest thing.

From the looks of it, there were perhaps a hundred to two hundred people outside where the Cheeto in Chief was speaking, while there was perhaps close to a thousand people in the march I was in on the other side of the tracks.  And while we did put in an appearance, I, and a few other people, certainly felt there could have been more present.  But, you take what you can get.

Today there has been writing, and this time I managed to get up over eight hundred words.  Part of what I wrote today involves Deanna in a certain spirit we all know and love speaking in a language that required me to do a lot of translating.  And what comes next is going to be even more fun–it’s only a question of how get to it tonight or have to wait until tomorrow to write that part. As it is, I’m almost 3000 words ahead of you now, which is why I’m dumping the rest of the last scene out today.

Besides, this part needs to go together.  It would make any point to split it up just to keep the excerpts coming…

 

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

 

Annie let out a happy sigh. “You can’t imagine.”

“Oh, I can imagine. My first time inside the Astral Realm was performed one-on-one with my instructor. I spent at least half of our time on the other side of The Curtain mesmerized by the sights; it’s an incredible place.” The smile on her face softened slightly. “But even then I was aware it can also be an incredibly dangerous place. And it’s my intention that you know the same.”

A comfortable silence passed between Annie and Kerry for a few moments, and Kerry turned to his instructor. “Anytime you go somewhere incredibly beautiful, you have to deal with the possibility of extreme danger. They seem to go hand-in-hand.”

“That’s so true, Kerry. But there’s a danger in the Astral Realm that few people consider when they first enter.”

“What’s that?”

Deanna cocked her head slightly to one side as her smile turned into a near smirk. “Saturation.”

This was a term with which Annie was not familiar. “What’s Saturation?”

There are a lot of unfamiliar terms that we encounter in this story. And like with most of those terms, I generally offer some sort of explanation as to their meaning. This one isn’t any different.  So, you want to tell us about it, Deanna?

“Saturation is when you have too much mystical energy with which to craft. Think about it: when you’re on the other side of The Curtain, one is surrounded by nothing but mystical energy, so when crafting a spell one has to be careful with how they draw in energy. Here, we overcharge our spells by crafting them with an overabundance of mystical energy; do the same thing in the Astral Realm and you’ll saturate your spell with so much energy it’s liable to blow up in your face.” Deanna gave both children a half smile. “There’s many an inexperienced witch who came to an untimely end because they were unaware of the amount of mystical energy they were using.

“Here’s the best analogy I have found to compare crafting in the Physical Realm and Astral Realm. In this realm, the energy required to craft a spell comes through the witch’s body, which in reality is being drawn into their body through their aura, their only connection on this side of The Curtain to the Astral Realm. In that sense, mystical energy is pulled into a spell as if one were drawing it through a spigot.

“In the Astral Realm, however, one is surrounded by a literal ocean of mystical energy, so finding the energy needed to craft a spell isn’t difficult.” This time Deanna chuckled. “Though all of us know the danger we face if we find ourselves dropped into the middle of the ocean—

Kerry nodded. “Even if you know how to swim, you always run the risk of drowning.”

Annie found no difficulty in understanding these analogies. “Then crafting in the Astral Realm is a bit like crafting Shadow Ribbons: one needs a somewhat deft touch when crafting.”

“That’s exactly what it’s like. Instead of needing a massive amount of energy to power your spell, one finds a thimble full will do.” Deanna pointed toward the cabinet in the corner where the kettle and cups were kept. “Would you both care for some refreshment before we go?”

Kerry watched Annie for visual clues, knowing she was eager to get on with today’s exercise. He needed only a few seconds to determine that tea was the furthest thing from Annie’s mind. “Naw, I’m good.”

Annie nearly found it impossible to hide or temper her excitement. “I would prefer to enjoy some tea after we return.”

“Then by all means, we should began.”

Backlash, which has been mentioned a few times in these novels, is what happens when crafting doesn’t go quite as one expects in the spell turns back on the crafter.  Saturation is a little like that, but only in the sense that if you’re not paying attention to how much energy your pumping into a spell, said spell can blow up in your face–and probably take a portion of your face with with the explosion.  Not what one would call the most pleasant of situations.

Now you can finally begin to understand why Deanna was so eager to start Annie and Kerry on this advanced study course.  While it’s likely they would have discovered these things during their own investigations, the possibility also exists that they wouldn’t have fully understand it be implications of their book learning until it turned around and bit them on the ass.  Going all the way back to their A Levels, this is exactly what happened down in the Spell Cell when Annie was crafting Cold Fire and Kerry was putting together time spells.  They knew what they were doing: they simply didn’t realize what would’ve happened had things not gone according to plans.

Now that the explanations are out of the way all that remains is the curtain pulling…

Deanna moved to the east side of the room before turning and facing the opposite wall. She motioned for Annie and Kerry to get behind her before she began crafting: once they were in position she raised her arms as she slightly lowered her head.

She appeared deep in concentration for about five seconds before a pinpoint of light appeared at about eye level three meters from her position. The pinpoint grew wider, appearing to twist around in a circle as it went from being no larger than the diameter of the finger, to that of a tennis ball, and onward. The light inside the circle appeared bright and shimmery and while it did not grow in intensity as the circle grew wider, the various hues grew more numerous and brilliant as they came better into view.

In a matter of perhaps ten seconds the multicolored circle was perhaps two and a half meters in diameter. With the opening now connected to the Physical Realm, the faintest whisper of sound entered the room, existing just on the edge of hearing.

Deanna stepped up to the circle, which ended just above the floor, and stepped over the threshold into whatever existed on the other side. There was a brilliant flaring around her body as her aura came into view, a brilliant combination of shifting colors shot through with violets and pinks. She moved about three meters beyond the edge of the circle. While the divination instructor looked about Annie move slightly to her left to confirm that Deanna no longer existed within the Physical Realm: she didn’t.

After ensuring that everything was fine, Deanna turned back toward the entrance and faced her students. “Well, come on.” She waved them towards her.

Annie reached out and to Kerry’s hand. “Ready?”

“Sure am.” They stepped up to the threshold of the circle and Kerry motioned for Annie to move on. “Lady Dark Witches first.” He held onto her hand as she stepped through and followed her moments later.

Annie and Kerry moved alongside their instructor and remain close. Deanna looked back at the circle and, with a glint of determination in her eye, waved her right hand upward—

The glowing circle collapsed upon itself.

The classroom was empty.

 

And there they go, off into the Astral Realm to find a whole new world.  Though I wouldn’t expect Deanna to begin sings songs while they ride around on a magic carpet–

Maybe she’ll leave the singing to Kerry.  He’s got a good voice… I

Beyond the Curtain: Getting It All Out

The weekend is almost here and so are all the summer shows I’m gonna have to start working on next week.  Netflix reminded me this morning that next Friday I can come home from work and spend the next ten hours binging Sense8, which is something I might just do.  Because why not?

Now, back at the school the kids are making their way to Memory’s End, where revelations await:

 

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

 

On the walk to Memory’s End Kerry said little, and when he did speak it was not about the day’s instruction. It was only once they were inside the building and heading for the stairs to the first floor that he finally brought up what awaited. “Are you worried about me?”

Annie didn’t see a point in avoiding a direct conversation on the matter. “You’ve seemed somewhat anxious since learning what we’re doing today.”

“I was, but…” Kerry stopped them both before heading up the stairs. “I’m not scared. If anything, I’m excited about this. It’s just that I recognize this could be one of the most dangerous things we’re going to do this year, and I can’t help but think of all the possible things that could go wrong.”

“That I can understand.” She was keenly aware that Kerry was the sort of person who often anticipated the worst of a new situation. “How are you feeling now?”

“Eager to go. Really, when I mean I think of the worst that could happen, I don’t believe anything’s going to happen to us today. But, I’m certain Deanna’s going to tell us everything that can go wrong once we start visiting the Astral Realm on our own.”

From everything that Annie had read in the past she understood that the Astral Realm possessed dangers unique to that world. There were spirits and wraiths that sought out anything that wasn’t part of their world, and witches had noticed and documented weather-like phenomenon in the Realm that were terrifying and dangerous.

She knew Kerry was correct: Deanna was preparing them for when they were ready to enter the Realm on their own. At the same time, however, she was certain that the Astral Realm within the walls of Salem was a benign region, and she couldn’t imagine it being a dangerous place.

Then again, there were other things within the walls of Salem that one needed to watch for—

They bounded up the stairs and headed directly for the study room. Deanna was waiting for them, standing in the middle of the room smiling as if she had anticipated they were going to walk through the door that very moment. And he smiled back. “Good afternoon, Deanna.”

Kerry waved. “How’s it going?”

The seer approach them. “Good afternoon. And to answer your question, I am doing well.” She waved the door shut and rubbed her hands together. “I imagine your eager to begin.”

 

Given that they just met with Deanna it’s not gonna be long before they take that first step…

Beyond the Curtain: Pre-Passage Jitters

So…  how was your evening?

First off, I did my video.  It was fun, but as I usually do when it’s over I feel as if I could have done more.  It’s that whole thing that goes hand-in-hand with being creative–you know, everything you do sucks and you want to do better?  I should get out of that habit and will.  One day.

Then I head off with a friend to the Harrisburg chapter of the National Organization for Women and after opening my mouth a couple of times, I end up one-half of their fundraising committee.  This is why I shouldn’t say anything, but I can’t keep my mouth shut.

Came home, watched one episode of Breaking Bad, and the–wrote?  Yep!  Wrote!  Put down about seven hundred words as I began describing what it’s like over by der in the Astral Realm.  And since I’ll be home all night tonight I’ll not only write more about this, but… well, you never know who just might show up.

The thing is, if you got your witchy kids in the Astral Realm, that means they had to of started on this side of The Curtain.  And they did.  I know this because it all starts below–

 

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

 

Being a legacy witch meant there was little that could surprise or shock her, but Annie imagined today would be one of the days where everything she saw and heard was completely new. For today Kerry and she were about to embark on an adventure:

Today they would pass beyond The Curtain and walk in the Astral Realm.

The realization that they were taking this step came at breakfast this morning. They were just sitting down at a little before seven when Deanna came to their table, through upper privacy barrier around them, and said today was the day they would visit the Astral Realm. She refused to answer any questions: she simply said anything that needed to be asked could wait until the afternoon, as she wished to discuss anything concerning today’s exercise in private.

And just as quickly as she approached and gave them the news, she turned and left the Dining Hall.

Annie grew excited right away. Since he had begun her special training with Deanna she had begun preparing herself for anything involving passage beyond The Curtain. She’d read stories and had even seen a few pictures, but they did nothing to dampen her expectation of what would come about in the next few hours. She was on the verge of living a dream that was nearly as important as wanting to become a sorceress and a Guardian.

For his part Kerry seems slightly distracted. When she asked if there was something troubling him, he said he was a bit nervous about entering what was essentially an alien world. He knew there was little to fear for Deanna was skilled in these matters and everything would happen within the confines of the school’s walls, but he still found the prospect of walking into another world just a bit worrisome.

When she reminded him that entry new worlds was something he should be comfortable with given his science fiction fandom background, he agreed, but only with the caveat that he also knew, based upon those same stories, all the things that could go wrong even though they were told everything would be fine.

Though she spent the morning concerned that Kerry’s mind wouldn’t be on flying while Emma, he, and two other fliers from class made a high-speed run to Philadelphia and back, she was pleasantly surprised to find him in a good mood at lunch time. He explained his change of mood as being nothing more than the realization that since everything he had done since arriving at school a little more than two years earlier was new and somewhat alien when compared to Normal studies, why should he get upset about dealing with the situation that was completely alien?

 

There you go:  Annie is a secret Astral junkie and Kerry is just a little worried about stepping into his first alien landscape.  But you know these kids are going there.  How do we know?

I told you up at the start of the excerpt.  Duh.

Styles and Curtains

Like I said in my long video yesterday, the current scene was going to be long and it was:  just over thirty-eight hundred words.  But it is complete, even through here were a few computer hiccups along the way like the machine locking up on me for about a minute and a half because of a network change on the internet router here at the coffee shop.

But done is done and here it is.

But done is done and here it is.

Now, I also said yesterday that I not only picked up a new dress but I was expecting some new outfits in the mail.  I managed to get the mail guy before he locked my stuff away and was able to try on everything so I could decide what I wanted to send back, but I did end up with a new pair of jeans, a lace top, and a jacquard-style dress.

Never mind the "I'm Going to Hit You" pose.

Never mind the “I’m Going to Hit You” pose.

And for the dress I picked up yesterday morning, I now own a Christian Siriano dress:

I keep stylin'; haters be hatin'

I keep stylin’; haters be hatin’

There you have it:  my sartorial splendor.

Back in the realty of my fictional world you learned that Deanna is going to teach Annie and Kerry stuff they wouldn’t normally learn for another couple of years.  Some of it is pretty simple–if you consider seeing the magical electrical field around a person simple.  But as I indicated in yesterday’s video, there’s other things as well…

 

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

 

“Quite so.” Deanna enjoyed her first bite, taking her time to relish the dish. “I’m also planing to teach you more than that.”

Annie began refilling her tea cup the moment she finished swallow her first slice of lamb. “Such as?”

“Oh—” Deanna turned her gaze down at her plate while she separated her food. “Astral Projection and Astral Walking.”

Instead of skewering another piece of lamb Annie set her fork aside. She swallowed once so that her voice didn’t quiver when she spoke. “Seriously?”

“Absolutely.” Deanna set her fork aside and waved the server over to ask for another cup of coffee. “I can tell you’re surprised.”

“I am. I mean, I know Kerry and I have been learning spells a level or two over our actual level, but…” Annie giggled as she looked from the dining room to the scene outside the window and back to Deanna. “I’ve always concentrated on sorcery; I never imagined I’d learn a spell that would allow me to entered a completely different world.”

Deanna nodded with a slight smile on her lips. “You were content to remain in the Physical Realm.”

“Most witches are.”

“Well—” Deanna chuckled. “I’m not most witches. And neither are you. Or your significant other, either.”

 

The Astral Realm is a magical reflection of our world and while it usually mirrors what you see in the Physical Realm, there are changes here and there that one wouldn’t expect to find.  There are also things there:  spirits and entities that can make one’s life hard, or even non-existent.  That’s why when Deanna walked in that one time she had her armor and sword to protect her, though they were really more than that

Needless to say it’s not always the friendliest of environments, and getting there isn’t always half the battle.  Let’s also not forget that one may encounter things we think are friendly–

 

Annie found herself almost too excited to eat. What Deanna wants to teach us incredible. I’ve seen a little of what the Astral Realm looks like from Dreamwalking, but I’ve never imagined walking about in there. “So we’ll learn how to open The Curtain.”

“Astral Walking is pretty much worthless if you can’t.” Deanna chuckled. “You should see your face right now, Annie: I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you like this before.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re visibly excited. At school you always maintain a controlled demeanor.”

“I know.” Annie finally found the means to eat a couple of bites before going on. “Every one thinks I’m this ice princess who feels nothing—”

“Except love for your Ginger Hair Boy.”

“Yes: except for that.” Annie filed this moment away for now and pushed the conversation back to the discussion of lessons to come. “I’ve always understood that the Astral Realm can be a bit dangerous.”

“It can be; there are things in there that can react badly to an invasion by someone from the Physical Realm.” Deanna interlaced her words between bites. “However, within the walls of Salem we’re safe.” She looked up from her plate with a half-grin. “We can thank our Benefactor and Protector for that.”

Annie knew that could mean only one person. “The Phoenix.”

“Yes. She always gets a bit testy whenever anything enters the astral space around Cape Ann.” Deanna gave a slight sigh. “Though if we catch her on a bad day ‘anything’ can extend to us as well. She can be tricky that way.”

“Oh?”

“We’ll discuss that when we’re at school and Kerry’s with us. For the most part, though, we’ll be able to spend as much time on the other side of the Curtain as we like, which means I’ll be able to teach you Astral Weapons and Astral Defense without fear of needing them right away.”

 

–but can sometimes be a pain in your ass.  We know from the one time Deanna walked the plain that The Phoenix likes to screw with people, if for no other reason that she can.  It’s not like you’re going to give her a harsh talking to because she’s jacking you around, and for all we know she can kick a person back to the Physical Realm if they decide to give her too much shit–or just kill you and make your body disappear.  Because, once again, she most likely can.

The one thing you can be sure of:  she’ll put in an appearance in this novel, just as she did in the A and B Level books.  Hey, it’s a hard job protecting the school–sort of–and she should get some exposure,

Speaking of mean things that like to jack with you, the next scene is talk between Kerry and his mother.  I wonder how that’s going to go?

Once More Unto the Curtain: The Last Secret Kinda Explained

First off, Happy St. Pat’s Day, or as we called it in Chicago, “Drunk Teenager Day”, back when all the suburban kids would take the train into the city and booze up at any number of beer tent set up around The Loop, and drink until they were laying face down, literally, in a gutter.  I’ve seen this many a time, but few of those memories are fond.  Also, I’m sure the Chicago River is a bright green this morning, as opposed to the dark, murky green that is it’s normal color.

But there be other business we be handlin’ this morning, right?  Yur damn tootin’!  Humm . . . not sure if that’s Irish or more a Fargo-like accent.  No time to worry about that.  Erin Go Braless, as Kerry would say–

It appears that despite hacking up part of a lung last night, I finished the first scene of Chapter Twenty-nine:

Image of hacked-up lung not included.

Image of hacked-up lung not included.

This was all after I spent about an hour and a half working on my time lines, mostly redoing on and making modifications to another.  All a bunch of future planing, including a major change to one of my lines for the purpose of throwing in something that I know Annie would want, and that she alone would likely know.  As Collective Soul might sing, I’ve still got a long way to run.

Now you’ll see a time line, but not until after the excerpt.  And because this is right around six hundred and eighty words, you get it all.  And this picks up right after Erywin’s exclamation, which means . . .

 

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

“Yes, they do.” Deanna turned towards her fellow instructors and staff. “As Coraline knows I found Annie’s explanation of how she heard Kerry’s screams during the night somewhat suspect, so a while after I left the hospital and strode into the astral realm. It took about a minute of examination before I realized their lifelines weren’t visible, and after a bit of searching—” She nodded in the couple’s direction. “I found the bonding.”

Jessica’s aura shifted through a number of colors as it was evident she was having difficulty believing what she heard and saw. “Why didn’t you say something about this during our meeting?”

Deanna shrugged. “It wasn’t relevant. It is now, however.” She turned back to face Annie. “Like you said, you’re not going anywhere—and this confirms your statement.”

While Annie was apparently adjusting quickly to this new development, Kerry—rocked throughout the last thirty minutes with a number of incredible reveals—was now trying to process this latest. “What does this mean?”

The look in Annie’s eyes seemed to indicate a moment of sudden clarity. “It means we’re connected.”

“She’s right.” Deanna slowly approached them, her aura showing her feeling of intense curiosity. “I imagine this is why you share a dreamspace, and why you’ve been able to visit each other in your dreams without having to actually used magic to make the walk.” She gentle ran her right index finger over her lower lip. “I believe this is how Annie was able to hear you screaming: it didn’t come from your room, it came from your dreamspace, and filtered up through your shared space into hers.

“The reality is, as Annie says, you’re connected. You’re lifelines are fused—it likely occurred immediately after your birth, Kerry. The point is, you’re linked through the same element that allows you to draw magical energy, and this is why when you are close together your auras merge.” She shook her head. “I should have seen this earlier. Do me a favor, please?” Both children perked up.  “Turn so you’re facing away from me.”

Annie and Kerry turned so their backs were to Deanna and the rest of the room. The seer looked to her right at the astonished women. “See?”

“Damn.” Coraline stepped up next to her fellow counselor. “So that’s why.”

Kerry half turned to his right so he could see everyone. “Why what?”

“My love—” Annie nodded towards the space between them. “Look.”

Kerry promptly noticed what Annie, and the others, could see. His lifeline progressed down through his left arm and out his hand before arcing over to Annie’s right hand and making its way up through her right arm. He slowly spun to his right and reached out with his left hand as Annie turned towards him, holding out her right hand. They held hands and he saw how their lifelines moved from one hand to the other. “Wow.”

“That’s what Coraline meant—” Annie gave her a knowing grin. “Why we always walked right hand in left. Yes?”

The doctor nodded. “It follows the natural line of your dominate hands.  That’s not a coincidence.”

Deanna shook her head.  “It’s not.”

Annie turned to Kerry and smile. “This means we truly are soul mates.”

“It kinda looks that way.” He turned to Deanna. “How long are we going to be like this?”

Deanna seemed nearly confounded by the question. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, no one else is like us—” He used his right hand to motion around the room. “How long is this gonna . . .”

Annie’s stare stopped his question in mid-sentence, but it was left for Deanna to make certain he understood completely. “It’s always going to be this way. You’re lifeline is a part of you from the moment you’re born until the day you are no longer part of the physical realm—

“This bonding you share: it’s the same way. For this lifeline between you will only break upon the end of one, or both, of you.

“You’ll remain bonded together until the day you die.”

 

When they say “lifelines” they aren’t kidding.  Deanna knows what she’s talking about, and when she says, “Until the day you die,” she means it.

Now, a little bit of history here.  As with Kerry’s sudden “change of life”, I’ve known of this event for a while as well.  I first started putting it together during the summer of 2012, but it was during the July, 2013 Camp Nano, where I wrote The Foundation prequel novel The Scouring, that this finally took hold.  That novel showed Jessica, Erywin, and a few others, reacting to the April, 2000, Deconstructor attack on the school, and it was in that same novel that I first wrote about Isis, Wednesday, and Deanna, who were only students at the time, but who still did their part to defend their alma mater.

There was a scene, however, the penultimate scene, actually, and that scene has been read only by myself and one other person.  I sent that scene off with the message:  “This is why Annie and Kerry will always be together,” and when that person finally got around to reading what I’d sent, I was told they’d actually read the scene several times over a couple of days, because reading it made them happy.

That scene is hidden away, and perhaps I’ll let it out one day.  But . . . it’s there, almost three years ago now, that I showed something incredible happening.  I’ve even got it down on a time line–just as I have all of the dreams and events during the B Level that has brought us here–

You don't know how long I've waited to put this out.  A long "time", you might say.

You don’t know how long I’ve waited to put this out. A long “time”, you might say.

There I have it:  all of Kerry’s dreams laid out, and then down in the lower right, the events that are occurring now.  And just like these moments, I have others laid out for the C Levels that are approaching.

But all of this leads back to a moment where my two kids found themselves bound at the heart–pretty literally as well, I must say.

Now comes the time when the full realization of that moment hits them both right over the head . . .

Once More Unto the Curtain: The Last Secret Unfolds

Between fits of hacking up the last of the  fluid in my lungs, talking to people I know so I can make future plans, and getting in a nap before sitting down to watch a little TV before going to bed, I managed another five hundred words in this story.  Let me tell you, it’s been a little rough going onward because I haven’t felt anywhere close to one hundred percent for a while now, but this next part–oh, boy.  Are you about to be surprised.

These five hundred words are the set-up, and the words that follow tomorrow (I Promise!) are the payoff, but this is going to help explain a lot of things from the past and going into the future.  Well, maybe:  you know how this magic stuff goes.

Needless to say, Kerry’s question of “What’s those?” left off the last excerpt, so it’s only fair that get answered . . .

 

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

Annie turned and saw all the women on their feet, as Deanna had finally decided to stand with her fellow instructors and administrators. Each woman’s physical form appeared outline by a hazy but colorful field of energy that was their aura, showing their current state of mind and emotions. She was fascinated by the brightness of each aura and remembered something her mother told her: that the auras of the Aware are far brighter than those of Normals, because witches are constantly channeling mystical energy into their forms.

There was something else, though: the things that of which Kerry was inquiring. Emerging from behind each woman was a tendril of silver cord, as thick as two fingers pressed together, extending about a meter and a half above their heads. The cord shimmied slowly from side to side like a silver snake moving through the a misty gray grass.

Deanna keep her eyes on the young couple remaining close together. “Those are lifelines.” She motioned to Coraline, whom she saw clearing without having to turn away from either of the children.

“They extend out of our physical form into the astral realm, and it’s through those we’re able to pull the mystical—and dark—energy we need to power our spells.” She didn’t know if Annie was aware of one of the facts about them, but she knew Kerry wouldn’t know, so she continued for their benefit. “You can’t see it with Astral Sight, or even while performing Astral Projection. It can only be viewed by going through the Curtain and physically entering the astral realm.”

Kerry scanned the adults before looking at the girl standing before him. “Where’s Annie’s?” He looked around her. “I don’t see hers.”

“I don’t see yours, either.” She turned to Deanna. “Where’s Kerry’s lifeline?”

Deanna looked across the room to the nebulous creature positioned behind the sofa. “You knew, didn’t you? That’s why you did this.”

The time the room-filling chuckle seemed to carry a bit of warmth, perhaps even mirth. “It’s possible, but—” The golden eyes brightened. “You know my credo.”

“I most certainly do.” The seer nodded slowly.

“Given that the rest of us aren’t experts in the these astral matters—” Erywin’s aura disclosed her true concern and confusion. “—what the hell are you two going on about? And where—” She pointed at the children, who everyone could now see shared a merged pink and light blue aura. “—are their lifelines?”

 

If there’s one thing you could say about The Phoenix, it’s that she he comes off as a bit of an asshole.  It’s probably more than possible that she knew something was going on here, but as she says, you gotta figure it out for yourselves, otherwise she knows she’s just a huge-ass deus ex machina that everyone expect to hand over answers when they get stumped.  And what’s the point of bringing together the best and brightest witches throughout the world if they’re gonna turn to you every time they get their butts in a bind?

The silver thread thing is an old concept:  in fact, it is believed to have originated in Ecclesiastes.  Simply put, when you astral project, your spirit remains attached to your body through a silver cord, and that’s how you remember where you parked your car when your essence is walking around in the spirit world.

And most of the time you're dressed in whatever you're wearing at the moment, so woo be to those who sleep in the nude.

And most of the time you’re dressed in whatever you’re wearing at the moment, so woo be to those who sleep in the nude.

Don’t confuse this with Dreamwalking, which is something completely different.  Confusing, I know.

But the question remains:  what did she know, and what was it Deanna wanted to show?  And in case you were wondering, this ties back to Deanna’s little stroll through the astral realm in another chapter.

Well . . . if you want to know what’s up with these two, and where their missing lifelines are located–here you go.

 

Deanna stepped away from the rest of the women and stood facing the young couple. “Annie, Kerry: I want you to keep facing each other and—each of you—take three steps backwards.” She motioned for them to start. “Go on: you’ll see.”

The couple turned and, without taking their eyes from each other, did as instructed, moving backwards as their auras separated but maintained the same colors. Once they were in position they began staring in amazement at what Deanna wanted everyone in the room to see—

A single thread of glow silver emerged from Annie’s chest and stretched across the two meters of empty to Kerry, where it vanished into his chest. As with the older women’s lifelines the thread undulated, but at no time did it pull away from the bodies of either child.

Annie lightly placed her right hand upon the thread: as soon as her fingers touched the cord Kerry gasped. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I’m—” He looked to Annie’s hand. “It felt like you were tickling my chest.” Kerry tried the same thing, only he lightly glided his fingers over the thread towards Annie—

She nearly went up on her toes as she inhaled deeply. “It was as if—” Her eyes widened slightly as a smile slowly formed. “I could feel you inside my essence.” She locked her gaze upon Kerry’s loving stare. “I don’t understand this.”

Even with her limited knowledge of the astral realm and associated magic, Erywin did understand what Annie didn’t. Her words came out in a quiet, controlled tone. “Dear Brigid, they have an astral bonding.”

 

Erywin!  Dammit, woman, what do you mean by that?

What she means is . . . well, you’ll find out tomorrow.  I promise!

Once More Unto the Curtain: Land of Mist and Honey

We have Kerry’s Big Secret out of the way and we’re into the last part of this part about his big life change.  But as I said, there’s another secret about to get uncorked, and it’s going to change a lot of things.  Seriously.  I’m not kidding.

Here is what’s ahead:

Looks like a normal chapter to me, Cassie.

Looks like a normal chapter to me, Cassie.

But this is going to set up and wrap up everything.  Well, for what’s been happening through most of the novel.  There are still three parts to the novel remaining, and I’m wondering if anyone has guessed how it’s going to end?  Beside finding “The End” written at the bottom of a page.  Don’t get wise with me, Sunshine:  I’m way ahead of you.

When we left the library it had exploded in light, which, under most circumstances, isn’t a good thing.  But this is the world of magic, and The Phoenix is working her grove, which is probably uber magic these other witches have never seen.  That means it’s not as bad as you’d imagine . . .

 

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

The walls of the library were covered in glowing embers of energy that bathed the room in bright pastels and striking neons, while hazy, creamy light seeped through the ceiling above. Though Annie had never seen something like this before, she knew what was happening almost instantly: she was seeing the room as it appeared from within the Astral Realm.

She wasn’t the only one who understood what was happening, either. Erywin was on her feet, a sharp breath preceding her words. “My god; she’s pulled back the Curtain.  We’re inside the astral realm.”

Jessica slowly made her way to her feet. “She can do that?”

Deanna was the only one now sitting, as Coraline and Matilde were also standing. “Apparently she can.” She pointed toward the sofa where Annie and Kerry were sitting moments before. “Maybe you’d like to ask her directly.”

Behind the sofa hovered a amorphous mass of hazy light that slowly shifted from a tendrillar blob into something that appeared almost humanoid in form. In the middle of what appeared as the head a pair of golden eyes broke through the haze. A dry chuckled filled the room, seeming to come from everywhere. “Sorry I didn’t prepare a better form, but when I first appeared it wasn’t my intention to entertain a lot of guests.” The eyes turned on Deanna. “Doesn’t seem that long ago we were facing each other, does it, Seer?”

Before she could formulate a reply Kerry’s voice rang out excited and high pitched while indicated the five women. “What’s those things behind you guys?”

Annie turned and saw all the women on their feet, as Deanna had finally decided to stand with her fellow instructors and administrators. Each woman’s physical form appeared outline by a hazy but colorful field of energy that was their aura, showing their current state of mind and emotions. She was fascinated by the brightness of each aura and remembered something her mother told her: that the auras of the Aware are far brighter than those of Normals, because witches are constantly channeling mystical energy into their forms.

There was something else, though: the things that of which Kerry was inquiring. Emerging from behind each woman was a tendril of silver cord, as thick as two fingers pressed together, extending about a meter and a half above their heads. The cord shimmied slowly from side to side like a silver snake moving through the a misty gray grass.

 

First off, don’t get any ideas that what everyone in the room is seeing is the true form of The Phoenix.  That old spirit pretty much does whatever she feels like doing, and she’s probably screwing with a few people by starting out looking like some kind of astral Abomination.  Yeah, she was a floating ball of something with identical.  Cute.

As for that end there . . . that’s what’s coming next, and trust me:  it’s right after that you’re going to see the really big secret here.

As Genesis once sang, tonight, tonight, tonight . . .