The Underground Warmth

The long weekend is nearly over, and for once I haven’t spent nearly twenty hours driving a couple of thousand kilometers to and from The Burg.  Even so, I haven’t written a huge amount, though I suppose a few thousand words in three days time isn’t that bad.  I’ve done better, but there were times when I did far worse.

But now the last scene of Chapter Twenty-One is here, and after an evening and a morning that scene is almost almost eleven hundred words long.  It’s the after math of the previous scene, though it takes play a long time after that scene finishes.  Where are we?  Back in the Midnight Madness–or, I should say, at the end of that Madness . . .

 

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

Kerry calmly opened his eyes as he was shaken back to consciousness. His first thought was Annie was waking him, but in moments he saw she was still laying between him and the back of the sofa. He was about to close his eyes once more when he was shook once more, and this was enough to get him to roll over and begin sitting up. He rubbed his eyes as he looked up. “Hi, Professor.”

Jessica Kishna gingerly set down on the edge of the coffee table. “Morning. I hate to wake you up just to send you off to bed again, but it’s twenty after midnight and we’re shutting down the Madness. You both need to head back to your tower.”

Kerry retrieved his glasses from the side table and slipped them on. “Sure thing, Professor.”

Jessica didn’t seem in a hurry to leave, however. She looked at the blankets that still covered most of the two children. “You guys were under two comforters tonight.”

“Yeah, well . . .” He stretched his shoulders. “We were really cold flying today.”

“I can imagine.” Jessica looked at the still-sleeping Annie. “Did she do well today on her solo?”

“Annie did better than well—” Kerry shifted around so he could smile down on his sleeping soul mate. “She was fantastic.”

 

Jessica being friendly and nice is something that hasn’t come up that much; most of the time when we’ve seen her she’s been in the running for the title of Queen Bitch of Salem, one which has apparently been coveted by Helena for some time.  Then again, Kerry, nor Annie, aren’t just another B Level couple struggling through their spells.  With these two she can afford to let down her armor just a little, particularly when no one else is watching.

Once Jessica is on her way Kerry goes about the task of waking up his soul mate.  And we find out that not only does he know more choise Bulgarian phrases, but Annie is still a tough one to wake:

 

Kerry grabbed Annie’s robe from near their feet and lay it across his lap before leaning close to Annie’s face. “Time to wake up.” He placed a soft kiss on her left cheek. “Sŭbudi se, skŭpa.”

While her eyes remained close, a slight smile began forming upon her face. However, Annie wasn’t quite awake— “Moyata lyubov, spish s men.” She sighed softly. “Nakaraĭ me topli s teb obicham.”

Since Kerry had no idea what Annie had said—he recognized only a few words—but he managed to understand the gist of her mumbling. Still, he knew that Jessica wasn’t one to bend the rules for them as Helena and Erywin had done before, so it was necessary to get Annie back to the towers. “Come on, my lovely girl.” He kissed her again. “Wakey, wakey.”

Annie’s eyes opened enough to see Kerry’s smile face centimeters away from hers. “I love being awoken by your kisses.”

Kerry pulled back a little so Annie wasn’t staring herself cross-eyed. “Well, one day—” He traced her left jaw line. “You’ll get it when you’re not giving them to me.”

“Oh, I can’t wait.” She sat up slowly and stretched. “What time is it?”

 

Needless to see, Annie’s comments are sorta . . . well, let’s just say when Annie is feeling loved, she has love on her mind.  Kerry’s only partially sure of what she said, but you can bet he’s a lot closer in his understanding of her words than someone who doesn’t understand Bulgarian.

They leave the Dining Hall and head back to the tower along a route they don’t normally use.

 

Their departure from the last of the Midnight Madness differed from their past departures. Because the outside wind chill was near minus twenty Celsius, instead of taking the outside route back to Carnunnos Coven, they headed directly to the stairs on the east side of the Rotunda and made their way to the lower levels of the Great Hall. They wound their way through the dimly lit corridors until they came to the tunnel that led to the lower level of the Pentagram Walls and the coven tower.

The entire length of the tunnel was deserted. Kerry expected this: it was a rare occasion when Annie and he shared a walk back to the tower with fellow covenmates. They made they way in silence, Annie pressed against Kerry as they walked, her robe secured tight. They were nearly two-thirds of the way along the passage before she spoke. “It’s been quite the day.”

“That it has.” Kerry released Annie’s hand and wrapped his arm over her shoulder. “Vicky and Isis were really happy about your solo flight.” He kissed her forehead. “Hit all your marks perfectly.”

“I know the next one is going to be tougher—” She sighed and rested her head against Kerry. “But that’s not going to happen for another month, so no point in worrying about it now. How was flight class?”

“Good. Next camping flight is this coming Thursday, and a lot of people nervous.”

“Do you know where you’re camping, my love?” Annie hadn’t given much thought to Kerry’s next overnight flight due to concentrating on her own solo flight.

“Lake Mansfield, up in Vermont. We’ve been told the snowfall is good, so we’ll get to see what it’s like setting up in arctic conditions.”

 

First, the tunnel walk.  By now we have a pretty good idea of what The Pentagram looks like from above:

Here's the walk we all know and love.

Here’s the walk we all know and love.

Right now, however, the wind chill is -20 C, and that’s cold.  Given that they’ve always spend a ton of time out in that sort of cold, they decide to take a slightly warmer route.

They night not get a good view of the sky, but they're not freezing right now.

They night not get a good view of the sky, but they’re not freezing right now.

They can walk straight back to the tower underground, and just like above ground it’s quiet and secluded.  By the way, the tunnel to the right is the one Wednesday flew down when she left The Pentagram to help with with the defense of the school during the Day of the Dead.  That’s the passage that was built to reach the tunnel system heading south, the one that was later excavated to become The Chunnel.

And here we hear of Kerry’s next overnight training flight in perpetration for next year’s Polar Express.  It starts on the last Thursday of the month–31 January, 2013–and has the students returning to the school the next night, 1 February, just in time for the Imbolc feast, and do we remember what happened after the last Imbolc feast?  I sure do, and you can be Helena does, too.

Where is the camp out going this time?  Well, up here:

Just down the road from Stowe--can you imagine these witches on the slopes?

Just down the road from Stowe–can you imagine these witches on the slopes?

In the image above the lake is just below the “Mt. Mansfield State Forest” legend, and given that the lake is fifteen hundred feet, or about four hundred and thirty meters, above sea level, there’s gonna be snow.  And it’s not gonna be that long of a haul to get there–

A lot closer than central Maine, that's for sure.

A lot closer than central Maine, that’s for sure.

Two hundred and seventy kilometers, which means they can get there in a little over an hour.  Assuming it’s not bone-chilling cold that night they leave.  Which it might be.  Maybe that’s what’s making students a little worried?

 

“Why are people nervous?” Given what Kerry told her after the last flight, she had her suspicions about why some students in Advanced Flight One felt nervous.

“Because Vicki’s still pissed about how the last flight went. She told us today that she felt most of the class wasn’t up to speed on being able to navigate using maps and visual references, and told everyone she was gonna grade hard on this flight.” He chuckled darkly. “She pulled Emma and me aside and said we’re not going to fly a single leg this time out, that we proved we know our stuff, and said if she has to turn to us, it’s because everyone else has screwed things up beyond any hope of recovery.”

“That’s what I expected. I’m sure Vicky’s comments were reassuring.”

“To me, yeah, but Emma?” He shook his head. “She keeps screwing up the Fire spell, and she can’t do a Compress spell at all.” The reached the end of the Great Hall tunnel and stopped just before the doorway to the Pentagon Wall passage. “She’s freaking out that she’s not gonna get proficient on either before the last overnight flight, and she’ll scrub out for The Polar Express.”

 

Hummmm . . . I wonder what Annie thinks about the possibility of Emma washing out of The Polar Express, and not being able to spend at least a couple of days and nights alone with Kerry.  I’m sure she’ll say that she knows Kerry won’t do a thing even if Emma does, and that Emma knows she’s gonna have to spend some . . . alone time with Annie . . . should she does something stupid, like hit on Kerry.  Then again, Annie probably has a curse or two she’s ready to lay on Emma just before Team Myfanwy heads off to the wilds of Canada, so it’s likely she has all her bases covered no matter what.

There’s more to come, and I should get to that this afternoon.  After a nap.  And while the zombie fun run is on the telly . . .

Grasping Beyond the Gaspé

This has been one crazy morning.  So much has happened:  tax calculations, writing, coffee, writing, listening to music, writing, getting dressed and going to the post office, writing . .

If you haven’t figured it out, there’s been a lot of writing.  In fact, last night and this morning have proven to be the most productive session I’ve had in a long time.  How much?  Eleven hundred and twenty-three last night, and one thousand, nine hundred, and twenty-two this morning.  And believe it or not, I haven’t finished the scene:  it’s still going, though I’m much closer to the end than the beginning.  And I may finish that up tonight–it’s hard to say.  This is how it is when you hit a writing groove.  And keeping Eminem’s Go To Sleep on repeat helps keep the juice going as well.

A huge chunk of last night’s scene had to do with the camp breaking down and heading out into the cold gray overcast yonder.  And believe it or not, this scene has become one of the most heavily researched scenes I’ve done since sending my kids off to Kansas City.  I mean, I’ve looked at tents, sleeping bags, cots, backpacks, what to wear as arctic gear, mapping the route, checking the historical weather for the area at the time . . . and lastly, it came to me a couple of days a good that I had no idea what the wind chill, but that’s because I wasn’t sure how fast my kids were averaging on their flights.

Which is why my notes now look like this:

 

Camp Baxter to Fish River Lake to Allagash to north shore Beau Lake (US side): Team Zanzibar 139.5 km 27 F/-3 C, overcast, flight wind chill 3 F/-16 C, 07:00 start, 130 kph/65 minutes, 08:05 end

Rest 08:05 to 08:30

 

Yeah, that’s how I roll:  like a crazy bitch who has to know everything.  But as you’ll see nearly all of this came into play in the scene.  Let’s head back to what I’d like to wake up, get going, and then break camp–

 

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

Wake up came at five and the students found something waiting for them far different than their normal mornings in the towers. There weren’t any showers and the toilets were outside, in the cold, behind privacy curtains. They also had to dress in cold, cramped quarters, which led to a lot of issues and grumbling. Vicky expected this: a majority of the students had never camped out, and picking early winter for their first time out made the kids far more uncomfortable than normal.

Rivânia and Nadine began setting up the fires while it was still dark, and unlike when they were setting up camp, they accepted Kerry’s help in getting them going. In less than a minute they had eight fires warming the camp, for unlike normal camp fires these floats mere centimeters off the ground and didn’t require normal fuel to burn.

Vicky kept a close eye on the teams when it came to preparing breakfast. She’d pressed home the concept of division of labor when it came to camp set up, cooking, cleaning, and camp take down. She was pleased to see most of the groups did just as she’d taught, and she hoped that in their future expeditions would see this lesson continue.

She pushed them hard to eat, clean, and began tearing down and packing, for she wanted everyone ready to go brooms up at seven. There was a bottleneck getting the backpacks filled as Vicky and Erywin needed to help Rivânia and Nadine with their Compress spells. When she saw Kerry started to craft Compress on Emma and his gear she wondered if she should say something, but when she saw Nadine warn her off by shaking her head, she knew there wasn’t any need to worry.

They left Camp Baxter on-time and headed north with Team Zanzibar leading the flight. This was her plan for the day: various teams would get the opportunity to direct the whole flight to preselected locations. The only rules here was that each time had to figure out their course ahead of time and determine best speed to reach their objectives. It was also necessary for them to figure out how long it would take to reach objective, so when the lead team told Vicky they’d arrived, she could use her flight systems to determine if they were indeed where they were supposed to be, or if the lead flight had missed the mark.

 

You see Team Zanzibar’s flight schedule above, and you can follow it on the map I set out the other day.  I won’t bore you with everything, but here’s what they might see if they were on the ground–

Here’s the point close to Allagash, Maine, where they would turn north and head north to Beau Lake:

At least it's blue sky in this picture, and not cold, slate gray like they'll see.

At least it’s blue sky in this picture, and not cold, slate gray like they’ll see.

Then we hand off to the next team:

 

Beau Lake to Pohenegamook, Quebec, to north short Lac Pohenegamook to Aeroport de Rimouski: Team Picante 153.15 km * 32 F/0 C, wind 16 kph, light snow, flight wind chill 11 F/-11 C, 08:30 start, 125 kph/75 minutes, 09:45 end

Rest 09:45 to 10:10

 

They are the first team to lead the group into Canada, and therefore they’re crossing from one country to another–

And they're going right up that shore there.  Did you bring your passports, eh?

And they’re going right up that shore there. Did you bring your passports, eh?

Team Picante (and this word is Spanish for spicy, meant to reflect the foods one might find in the countries of the team members) runs into a little trouble, as well as something else–

 

They were only ten minutes along on their way to their next objective, the airport outside Rimouski, Quebec, when they ran into something Vicki expected to find before the morning was over: snow. The temperatures were actually three degrees warmer than what they’d flow through in Maine, but the snow and overcast skies lowered nearly everyone’s spirits. By the time they landed in a small plot of woods outside Rimouski, most of her students seemed miserably and grumpy.

 

Snow!  Wonderful Snow!  You knew it was going to happen eventually, and while the students have flow in snow before, they’ve only done it on marked paths inside the school walls.  And being out in a lot of it, in the air, and flying fast has freaked a few people out.  And now we’re going to throw another level of crazy on top of that:

 

She ordered a short rest and put Team Sulaco on the next leg. Mesha and Daudi were another pair of great fliers, and her instructions to them were to fly fast and stay focused. They didn’t disappoint: they went brooms up at ten-ten and crossed a sixty kilometer stretch of the St. Lawrence River in ten minutes. This was the first time the students had flown over any large body of water, and Vicky and Erywin were on a private channel mentioning the students who seemed uneasy flying over deep water through snow-filled air at three hundred kilometers and hour.

 

Sixty clicks is thirty-seven miles, and that’s a pretty good chunk of water to cross.  Up around that part of the river there aren’t any bridges, not only because of the width but the depth:  around that area it can be over a hundred meters deep, and that’s usually a lot deeper than set up piers for the bridges.

So first they streak north:

Get ready to say hello to The Great White North.

Get ready to say hello to The Great White North.

Then they hit the north shore, fly east for a while, and head back south:

Kinda like this only with more snow.

Kinda like this only with more snow.

Only this time they travel about one hundred kilometers over the river.

Which at this point sort of does look like the ocean.

Which at this point sort of does look like the ocean.

And after a rest we find out why she’s upset with some pissy little witches:

 

She picked Team Manga for the next leg, and this left her slightly concerned because Franky and Jiro, while good fliers, weren’t her best. However, they wouldn’t become better if they didn’t give them the opportunities to improve. This was that chance: if they performed this leg correctly they would leave Quebec behind and move on to their next Canadian province.

First they have to leave the Gaspé Peninsula behind.

The doubt that Franky and Jiro were not going to do as well as Vicky hoped came as they were departing as Jiro called out a different departure speed than he’d given during the preflight briefing. Vicky corrected him, and he returned a curt acknowledgment that she was correct. The temperature and weather conditions remained the same from the last two legs, and she heard Franky bitching to Jiro about how they should have taken a longer break due to the cold. Vicky rolled her eyes at Erywin, who was also listening in on the conversation, and she shook her head in disbelief.

The probably came as they approached the town of Murdochville, one of the only towns found in the interior of the Gaspé Peninsula. As they approached the sky resort on the east side of town the flight slowed enough for Vicky to get a position fix and to get visual proof that they did reach their checkpoint. She expected a nearly forty degree course change to the left towards their next objective, Fontenelle, but instead, Team Manga adjust their course nearly forty degrees to the right and southward and began to gather speed—

Three kilometers into their new course Emma and Kerry used the group channel to tell everyone that they were going the wrong way.

 

Just want you want to hear–those two telling you you’re doing it wrong.  “Hey, missed a turn!”  And Kerry’s probably made a few off-hand comments about how Annie psudo-kicked his girlfriend Lisa’s ass–though it’s hard to say if they’re really dating or, you know, just DTF like Lisa once said.

Things go from bad to ugly:

 

She was aware there wasn’t any love lost between the two teams. Vicky was aware of some animosity between Franky and Kerry, and Jiro and Emma had clashed on a couple of past occasions when she openly corrected Jiro’s flight calculations. Vicky was about to admonish Emma and Kerry privately for calling out the lead team when Franky chose that moment to remind them to shut up, that they knew what they were doing—

That’s when Vicky stepped in, and it became clearly obvious they didn’t know what they were doing. She brought the team to a halt in mid-air ask asked to see their course layout, and Franky—who was his team’s navigator—immediately because defensive and reiterated that they were on the correct heading. This back and forth went on for almost another thirty seconds before Vicky lost her temper and told Franky to show her their flight plan or she was going to jaunt him and Jiro back to the school and leave them locked in her office until she returned to the school with the rest of the flight.

The relented and she saw that instead of heading for Fontenelle they were heading due south to Bonaventure before turning southeast towards the next checkpoint. The total distance covered would have become slightly shorter, but she instantly saw the biggest difference in this different route, and the more she analyzed their flight plan, the more furious she became because it was apparently this wasn’t a simple navigation error, not when they’d mentioned Fontenelle and Gaspé during their flight briefing . . .

She ordered a new heading and told them to get moving. When Franky began complaining that he’d been unfairly singled out for a simple navigation error, Vicky shot a warning finger his way and told him to shut up or she was going to knock him on his ass the moment they landed. Though all the students knew Vicky wasn’t as inclined to physical violence as some instructors at Salem, they were also aware that she didn’t suffer fools, and few wanted to test her wrath.

 

Vicky does have a bit of a temper, but you really gotta push her buttons before it shows.  Franky somehow seems to know where those buttons are, and got her pissed.  So they leave Murdochville–

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

Take a rest outside Fontenelle, and then she hands the flight over to Team Azso, who flies them almost three hundred and forty kilometers to Prince Edward Island, which means traveling over one hundred and seventy-five kilometers of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is the same as sailing over the ocean.

Coming into PEI from over the Ocean, yo.

Coming in to PEI from over the Ocean, yo.

And we go back to where we were, with Vicky and Erywin off their brooms and stretch, and Erywin handing Vicky a mug of hot chocolate before they chat some more on how Franky is on the shit list bad, how B Levels are kinda moody anyway because they have figured out that even though they’re special people, they’re still in school, and talk about their families a little–mostly Vicky’s family, who the reader learns her parents found out about Vicky being a witch before she left her A Levels.

And then this happens:

 

Erywin broke into laughter. “Touché.” Her expression turned serious as she looked off away from the rest of the children. “Here now, what’s all this?”

“What?” Vicky followed Erywin’s gaze and saw Emma and Kerry standing about ten meters away from the rest of the group and appearing ready to mount their brooms. “What they hell are they doing?”

“Maybe we should find out.” Erywin began walking towards them with Vicky soon matching her stride. She called out as soon as they were a few meters away. “Oi, you lot.”

Kerry spun around and grinned. “Oi, you. What’s up?”

Vicky nodded towards the hovering brooms. “I was about to ask you two the same.”

 

Where are they going?  Hum . . . flying, perhaps?  Maybe I’ll get around to writing that tonight–

 

Down For the Night In the Allagash

So . . . camping.  I haz it here.  Well, I’ve had it for a few days now, ’cause it seems as if this is all that’s I’ve been writing about for the last few days.  And it is somewhat crazy the amount of stuff I’ve had to look up for what turned out to be a three thousand word scene.  So much to know, I’m telling you.

The scene is finished, by the way.  Almost eleven hundred words were required, but it got there.  This was pretty much all Kerry–pretty much, I say, because at the very end another person enters the stage.  And since everyone knows her, there’s no need for introduction.  Just keep the hissing to a minimum.

 

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

Two small light points hovered at the middle sides of the tent. Emma was sitting up on her cot, her sleeping bag pushed down about mid-torso so she could wear her half-zipped fleece jacket over her thermal undergarments. Her winter flight boots occupied the space between the head of her cot and the front of the tent, and her helmet, balaclava, gloves, and mittens were stuffed inside. Her heavy flying jacket rested on top of the boots; it would remain there until she was ready for bed, at which point she’d lay it over her feet. She looked up as Kerry entered the tent. “Is it still clear outside?”

“Yeah, the sky’s totally clear.” He fastened the outside cover in place and zipped the entrance closed. “At least we don’t have to worry about snow.” He sat on top of his sleeping bag, removed his gloves and mittens, and began undoing his boots. “Just the cold.”

Emma nodded. “Cold I can handle; snow, too.”

“Yeah, you get plenty of that in Bolder.” He set his boots and external gear and accessories aside just as Emma did with hers, then removed his winter flight jacket. Unlike their regular leather flying jackets, their winter flight jackets were like Normal extreme weather parkas outfitted with draw-cords, fastening cuffs, and a hood with a removable fur cuff, and designed to keep them as warm as possible while flying in sub-zero Celsius temperatures. “Man, I’m gonna sleep well tonight.”

“Oh, yeah.” She stretched her arms over her head. “This flying at night is crazy.”

“Yeah, well, we have a couple of winter flights coming up when we get back from Yule.” Kerry began unfasten his flight pants, which besides their undergarments and helmet were the only thing from their normal flight outfits still in use.

“You sure you don’t want me to turn around?” Over the last couple of weeks they’d agreed if they were going to share a tent they couldn’t spend their time worrying about being seen in their undergarments.

“Only if I’m getting down to skin—” He rolled up his pants and stuffed them inside his unzipped sleeping bag. “And I’m not.” He pulled off his fleece mid-layer jacket, rolled it up, and set it inside his sleeping bag as well. “Thanks for putting the hot water bottles in here.”

“That was the deal: while one is prepping outside, the other preps inside.” She glanced up at the ceiling. “Thanks for the lights.”

 

All the stuff I have down about their heavy boots and jackets, the gloves and mittens combos, the fleece jackets over their long undergarments, that’s all legit stuff need for walking around in near-arctic conditions.  I know ’cause I’ve been looking this up like crazy, and even found a few websites that had information.  The sleeping bags are correct for the climate as well, and the deal with putting your clothing and hot water battle inside them–those are tricks that let you sleep comfortably while being outside during the winter.

So when everything starts looking like this, you know?

So when everything starts looking like this, you know?

Since they are layered up, in the morning they can leave the heavy jackets off to the side and walk around with just their fleece and undies on and be comfortable.  Once they are flying they’ll need the heavy outer gear because it’s going to be colder than hell while zipping around at a few hundred kilometers and hour.  When they’re in the arctic they probably will stay bundled up all the time, except for those moments when it’s like a balmy -10 Celsius.

So Kerry’s not embarrassed about undressing in front of girls–I wonder where he got that habit from?  We won’t go there yet, but he does have a few things to say to Emma:

 

“No problem.” Kerry bent his legs, raising his knees to his chest, and spun around until he was looking down the length of his sleeping bag. He slipped his body inside and zipped it most of the way up, pushing it down until it rested mid-torso like Emma’s. “You do need to learn that spell.”

“I know.” Emma looked down, her face growing red. “I just . . . I have a hard time with some of this stuff.”

“Like the fire spell.” Vicky was pushing a minimum set of spells they needed for camping on their own, and being able to create a fire using magic was one of them. At the moment Kerry was the only one in Advance Flight One who could perform the spell, though Elisha and Kalindi were close to crafting it successfully. “You gotta get that one down.”

“Yeah, but you can do it.” Emma leaned towards Kerry. “Why do I need to do it, too?”

“Because what if I got hurt? What if I end up with a concussion or was unconscious?” He looked away for a second. “What if I died?”

Emma’s eyes widened as the embarrassed blush vanished. “Don’t say that.”

A grin spread across Kerry’s face. “I don’t expect to die—at least not this year.” He waved at Emma to alleviate her fears. “I’m just kidding.”

“Well, don’t kid like that.”

“What I’m saying is you need to know that stuff so you don’t rely on me.”

Emma sighed. “I’m just not as good as you.”

“Don’t compare yourself to me—” He nodded towards the door. “Compare yourself to the others. They’re learning, too, and most of them aren’t any better than you.” He laughed. “You have one thing they don’t.”

“What’s that?”

“Me.” He nodded quickly. “When we get back from Yule I’ll help you get them going.”

Emma once again averted her gaze away, embarrassed by the offer. “Thanks.”

 

Like it or not Kerry just laid the “You’re not on my magical level” rap on Emma, but at least she’s smart enough to know it’s totally true.  And thanks to a certain Dark Witch he does know a thing or two about teaching spells to others now.  There was probably a time when he’d never have said anything like what he told Emma in private, and he certainly wouldn’t say it in public, but he is acknowledging that he’s got the mad magical skillz down, which is one of the reasons why Annie and he are sorta in all the advanced classes.

 

“It’s not a problem. I mean—” Kerry hadn’t wanted to bring this up, but it was best to get it out of the way early. “If we do the Express next year, we’ll have to trust each other with our lives. I’ll have to trust mine with yours, and I wanna know I can.” He couldn’t add that he’d already been through this kind of experience . . .

Emma got the message. Her demeanor changed as she looked directly at Kerry. “Okay, I get it. And I agree: I don’t want you out there doubting I can cover your butt.”

He nodded. “You got it.”

“Then we’ll work on that—” She extended her right arm and balled her hand into a fist. “Next year?”

Kerry bumped his right fist against hers. “Next year.” He pulled his tablet out from under his cot and checked the time before shutting it down. “We better get to bed: there’s gonna be a lot of flying tomorrow.”

“Right.” Emma spread out her sleeping bag before setting her jacket across her feet. While Kerry did the same with his jacket she removed her fleece jacket and stuffed it inside her bag. She lay down and zipped herself in, leaving nothing but her face exposed. “I’m ready.”

“Same here.” He waved his hand and extinguished the lights, then settled back and zipped himself up. He rested his head against the built-in pillow, feeling his clothes—heated by the hot water bottles—radiating their heat against his body. “See you in the morning.”

“You know it.”

Kerry rolled slightly to his left, keeping his face away from the exterior of the tent. He heard Emma chuckle as he made himself comfortable. “What is it?”

She let out with a long sigh. “This is the first time I’ve been on your left.”

Kerry chuckled. “So it is.” He closed his eyes and drifted off, thinking it best not to explain the sleeping arrangements he shared with Annie . . .

 

Yeah, best keep that last thought to yourself, Ginger Hair Boy, ’cause most of these kids would freak a bit if they knew about that.  Then again, some of them have to expect something:  after all the B Levels must have noticed that those two didn’t stay with them in a hotel in Boston before flying back to Europe at the end of their A Levels, and those same kids had to of noticed them entering or leaving a single room in Berlin.  Maybe it’s one of those deals where if they don’t talk about it, it hasn’t really happened?  Yeah, that works.

The good nights are spoken.  Tomorrow it’s time to get up, have breakfast, break camp, and head back into the cold blue yonder.

But not before enjoying a tasty mug of the school's famous hot chocolate.

But not before enjoying a tasty mug of the school’s famous hot chocolate.

And the third scene is going to be as different as the first two.  In the first it was mostly Annie with Kerry there, while the second was Kerry’s observations with a bit of Emma thrown in.  Next up are going to be those third party observations, and you’ll finally get to see a little of what’s happening up in the sky, and where this flight has not only been, but where it’s going.

It’s gonna be fun, I promise.

Time to Make the Camp Site

There are real pros and cons to taking a long nap when you get home from work.  The pro is you feel a lot better once it’s over and you’re up.  The downside is that you’re not all that tired when it does become time to turn in and go to sleep.  This is the dilemma I found myself in yesterday after a nap that seemed to stretch on for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  I felt recharged enough to writ about twelve hundred words for my recap, and then another eight hundred for this novel, but when you find it time to go to nodding land, you don’t really want to go.

"If only I hadn't written those last three hundred words!"

“If only I hadn’t written those last three hundred words!”

I did get to sleep, but I expect a bit of a hangover for most of the morning.  At least I’ll be able to head out and do some shopping tonight with a semi-clear head.

This section seemed to come pretty good for me, save for a couple of things which I’ll explain in a bit.  What we have now is the overnight flight has turned the music off, climbed down from their brooms, and they set about the task of making camp:

 

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

As soon as everyone was on the ground the teams went to work. First order was to get up four fires, and that was handled by Nadine and Rivânia. Kerry asked if he could help—he was still the only B Level who could do the Fireball spell—but was told by Vicky to get busy setting up his team’s tent and let the minion handle stoking the fires.

Emma and Kerry, as well as the other teams, went to work unpacking. All their gear—tents, cots, sleeping bags, cooking gear, and clothing—was loaded inside their large, thirty-six liter backpacks using a Compress spell that most students wouldn’t learn until their C Levels, but that the Advanced Flight students were expected to master by the end of their B Levels. Compress was kind of miniaturization spell, one that could make objects smaller with the downside of allowing it to retain ninety percent of its mass.

They removed their mittens and folded back the hoods of their thick white winter jackets. This was the first time they wore the cold weather gear they’d need to be able to live and fly in arctic conditions in the field, and moving about was a slow and sometimes difficult task. Both members of Team Myfanwy considered removing the heavy jackets, but they knew they couldn’t as that was an option they wouldn’t have once they were in conditions far colder than than their current situation.

 

The Compress spell is pretty self explanatory, and it does have a bit of a disadvantage for the kids in that if they’ve got to pack fifteen kilos of gear to lug around on their backs, they’re still gonna feel most of that fifteen kilos.  But shit happens, right?  And the spell to get this stuff up to normal size is below.

The other thing has not been mentioned up to this point, and it’s that the kids are all wearing cold weather gear.  One of the things I’ve done a long time ago is kinda show what that gear looks like, because . . . well, it’ll come to you in time.  Basically they’re wearing a thick sweater garment in place of their normal flight jacket and then, over that, they’re wearing a modern polar jacket with a hood.  They’re wearing the same flight pants, but their boots have been beefed up, and they’re also wearing mittens over their gloves.  It makes things a little clumsy to work in, but they gotta know how to do this.

So the process for getting up the site?  This:

 

They used the Expand spell they’d learned during the last month—though Kerry had already used it well before the end of his A Levels—to return their gear to its original size. Besides each carrying extra changes of clothing, Emma carried the main tent, the tent poles, her cot, and her sleeping bag, while Kerry carried the vestibule, his cot and sleeping bag, the team rations, their cooking gear, and a few miscellaneous items. He floated light points over head so they could see properly, then they got to work. In the last few weeks they’d practiced putting up their tent in the dark, so they knew the routine.

They removed the tent, vestibule, and poles, and began setting up their sleeping area, pushing poles through tent eyes, then driving and securing them into the ground. Once the tent was in place Kerry worked on attaching the vestibule while Emma assembled the cots just outside the tent and moving them inside once her work was completed. Kerry attached the vestibule and fastened it to the ground while Emma set their cooking gear and rations aside before setting up the portable camp toilet behind a nearby tree. The last act was for Emma to roll out each sleeping back on their cots while Kerry set up a levitated ground cloth upon which to lay their brooms and backpacks.

After just twenty-five minutes their tent was ready for occupation.

With the fires going, everyone brought out their small folding chairs and set them up so each team could set about cooking their evening meal. No one had eaten since lunch, and while most fliers had brought snacks, the cold weather gear their wore on the flight up prevented them prevented them from eating while airborne. Kerry and Emma used their cooking equipment to heat up their meals, which were items packaged by the kitchen for this overnight expedition. While the meals weren’t nearly as tasty as the fair they would have enjoyed had they remained at Salem, they were designed to be high in calories and filling.

It was nearing twenty-one thirty by the time meals were over and cooking gear was cleaned and stowed. Before people began heading to their tents for the evening, Kerry brought out something he’d been given before leaving: a container full of banitsa that Annie had asked the kitchen to prepare that day. There was one for every person in the flight, and was surprised when everyone not only took one, but ate them as well. He’d expect there’d be at least one or two leftovers, but at this point in the evening, with everyone tired and cold, anything resembling a desert was welcome.

 

There you go:  a real team effort between Emma and Kerry, and one that they can sort of do for real when it’s needed.  And the “missing person” of Advanced flight sent along a bit of her homeland with banitsa for all!  Nice of Annie to do that, but there is probably one banitsa in there meant for a special person . . .

Now, here’s where I did something different.  As I was writing I decided that I didn’t like the first three paragraph–no, let me rephrase that.  I didn’t like where they were as written, so what I did, ’cause you can in a computer, is move to to this point in the story and rewrite them a bit.  Rather than have your go back a couple of days to the originals, I brought them here for you to see.

This was how they looked in their original form:

 

Kerry waved his hand in the direction of one of the camp fires and crafted a spell to pull oxygen away from the flames and smother them, which was far better than dumping water and using up fluids that could be needed later. It didn’t matter that there was a lake only a dozen meters away: Kerry not only knew it was easier to use magic to put out a fire, but he didn’t feel like filling up a container and bring it back to do the job he was now performing with the wave of his hand.

He looked up through the slight gap in the trees seeing if the stars were out. At the moment there was nothing but overcast, something they were told to expect after twenty-one. It was like this when they left the school: cloudy, dark, and growing colder.

He tidied up a few things and stored what little trash there was in a lock bag that he’d stuff in his backpack before heading off to bed. Kerry adjusted the collar of his flying jacket as the cold once more encroached upon the campsite as his mind drifted back to their flight north—

 

And how they now look re-positioned and rewritten:

 

Vicky called lights out at twenty-two and ordered everyone to their tents, letting them know they’d need to be up about five-thirty so they could begin preparing for the day. Kerry waved his hand in the direction of one of the camp fires and crafted a spell to pull oxygen away from the flames and smother them, which was far better than dumping water and using up fluids that could be needed later. It didn’t matter that there was a lake only a dozen meters away: He knew it was not only easier to use magic to put out a fire, but he didn’t feel like filling up a container and bring it back to do the job he was now performing with the wave of his hand.

He looked up through the slight gap in the trees seeing if the stars were out. At the moment there was nothing but overcast, something they were told to expect after twenty-one. It was like this when they left the school: cloudy, dark, and growing colder. He tidied up a few things and stored what little trash there was in a lock bag that he’d stuff in his backpack before heading off to bed. Kerry adjusted the collar of his jacket as the cold once more encroached upon the campsite and allowed his thoughts to first drifted back to their flight north, and then on to Annie. He wondered what she was doing and if she was alone. They’d promised not to get upset over being separated for one night, and would make the most of his return tomorrow. He whispered a good night and love to his soul mate before entered his tent’s vestibule. He zipped the outer door closed, tapped his hand three times against the tent door to announce his presence, unzipped the door and entered.

 

Much nicer, I think, and it makes far more sense now.  It’s also a good lead-in to the last part of the scene, and I’m guessing most of you can figure out what’s coming next–

You're not going to find it here, however.

You’re not going to find it here, however.

It was a good night to write, and mostly pain free.  Mostly.  I’ll try not to be in pain when I write tonight.

I promise you this.

Rocking Along the Overnight Way

So, Cassidy, were are we now?  Good you should ask . . .

As I may or may not have pointed out, last night was my electrolysis session.  It was two hours of fun, if you consider having an electric needle stuck in your face fun.  At least Bonnie–the woman who does my work–and I were having fun, talking about Emmys, Game of Thrones–which I told her is also called Boobs and Dragons, which she loved–Orphan Black, menopause, and women who should wear something over really, really tight leggings.  I mean, what else are you doing to do for two hours?  I’m sort of sitting there with nowhere to go while she does her shock and tweeze routine,  so you make the best of the situation.

And don't mind how numb you are when you get home.

And don’t mind how numb you are when you get home.

But I did write:  last night and even a little this morning.  I wanted to get the scene moved alone, and . . . the part I added required a bit of thinking–which I did on the forty minute trip back from my session–and once I got home I needed to sit, change, get organized, and write.

And I came up with this:

 

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

Just west of Millinocket they turned nearly due north as they skirted the eastern border of Baxter State Park and Mount Katahdin. After completing the turn and getting set on their new course Kerry pulled down his balaclava—which everyone now wore under their flying helmets to keep their exposed faces warm—and looked to his left. He could just making out the darkened bulk of Mount Katahdin ten kilometers away. It was nearly impossible to make out detail with the naked eye as there was a new moon, and under low-light the green tint hide the beauty of the scenery.

Kerry remembered the location of their camp site, and with them moving along at nearly two hundred kilometers an hour, he quickly calculated they’d arrive in approximately twenty minutes. He called to Nightwitch and asked if it would be all to play some music off his tablet computer—which he’d brought to help navigate—to perk everyone up after nearly two hours of chilly flying. To his surprise Vicky told him to go ahead and put it on external so it wasn’t jamming the comms.

He quickly found three songs, set his modified computer over to external sound, adjusted the transmission field so it’d cover a sphere about twenty meters across, and hit Play. A few seconds later the snare roll of Smashing Pumpkins’ Cherub Rock began, and in seconds the Salem Overnight was cruising at eight hundred meters past the tallest mountain in the state of Maine as the bass, drums, and grinding guitar of the song filled the sky around the flight.

He found himself bouncing up and down on his broom’s saddle, moving with the rhythm of the tune. He looked to his right and saw Emma had pulled down her balaclava and smiled his way while bobbing her head. Nadine gave him a thumbs up from the other side of the group, and a few others looked his way and nodded in agreement. After nearly one hundred minutes of flying in darkness and sub-zero wind chills, everyone welcomed the addition to their travel.

Seconds after the first song ended the opening cello strikes to Viva la Vida began, and Nadine chose that moment to pop over to Kerry’s left. As Chris Martin began singing Nadine joined in and motioned for Kerry to accompany. He joined her on the second verse and continued singing as she returned to her position on the first chorus. He smiled broadly as he sang without benefit of magical auto tune, remembering that they’d almost chosen this song to play last year during Ostara, and they’d practiced it twice before Kerry decided to go with Lovers in Japan.

Though he knew he sounded terrible, especially when compared to Nadine’s fairly wonderful singing voice, he enjoyed singing along, and when he started getting into the second chorus, he heard others joining in, their off-tune voices coming in over the comms. It got him smiling even more, and the chill that had help him for the last hour drifted away.

The last song was one he’d always wanted to play while flying: Murray Gold arrangement of the Doctor Who Theme used from 2005 to 2007. He cranked up his system as the synths, guitars, bass, and drums were accompanied by the National Orchestra Of Wales and the quick tempo bombast of strings and horns blasted out over the almost deserted and near-frozen Maine countryside. It was only two and a half minutes long, but by the time they came up on their final turn and approach, Kerry was once more fully alert and ready to start setting up camp in the minus eight Celsius winter darkness feeling suitably heroic.

 

Kerry bringing the tunes to the sky!  Now, it’s been said before he’s done this–during the graduation flight Annie and he took at the end of their A Levels, he played music from his tablet, and he’s brought it along once more.  On the way up it’s a lot of cold flying–the temps are legit for the date and time, and if you really must know the wind chill, it’s -25 Celsius–but now that they’re down to the last sixty kilometers, he’s ready to rock out.

And it is sixty--okay, sixty-one.  We'll just ignore that last kilometer . . .

And it is sixty–okay, sixty-one. We’ll just ignore that last kilometer . . .

Which brings us to Kerry’s Last Sixty Kilometer Play List:

Smashing Pumpkins, Cherub Rock

Yeah, I remember this from when I was working in downtown Chicago and the Pumpkins were still kind of a local band.  And flying through the night with some awesome thrash going on is a good way to get the blood pumping as you’re flying past a big mountain peak.

What Kerry would see, only with a lot more darkness.

What Kerry would see, only with a lot more darkness.

Coldplay, Viva la Vida

Not only does Kerry like this song, but so does Nadine, it seems.  It’s a nice touch pointing out that he almost played this the year before at Ostara, but decided to go with another Coldplay song.  A good, driving beat that gets one in a bit of a positive mood and should make you forget the cold.

Murray Gold, Doctor Who Theme from 2005 to 2007:

And last but not least, Kerry is for sure gonna throw this one on.  Two-and-a-half minutes of tecno-orchestral bombast, it would be like having a marching band behind you as you fly triumphant through the night.  This would probably get a smile out of Erywin as well, as she’s something of a fellow geekette–after all, she is Leela.

Tonight:  gotta write my recap and I hope to finish this scene after that.

You might even get to see Emma . . .

Ready for Overnight Flight

So, here we are, sitting around waiting.  In my case I’m waiting for my laundry to finish, because I’ve run out of unmentionables to wear, and a girl’s gotta have clean unmentionables.

And I got my nails done yesterday, too.

And I got my nails done yesterday, too.

Once laundry is finished I’ll need to run out and pick up a few things, and I figure I’ll get out about eleven or so.  Once all that’s done, I’ll start on the next scene, which sees Kerry heading off to go camping.  And, believe it or not, I’ve been getting ready for this moment . . .

First off, I’ve worked on the route my group is going to take.  As was sort of mentioned in the prior scene Friday–the day after the camp out–there will be a lot of flying.  The reason for that will get covered another scene, but it’s all over the place.  Love my maps, you know, because it really helps to know where my students are at certain times, and that also means I can check on weather conditions for those areas.  Because, you know, it’s gonna be cold, and there may be snow.

You’ve seen the brooms they’ll fly–everyone’s on Class 1s–and you’re kinda seen the camp site–

Right here.

When it’s not cold and gloomy and dark.

Which is easier to see from above–

North of the mountains and just south of the Allagash.

North of the mountains and just south of the Allagash.

Now, since there is a line heading off the top of the map, it’s pretty much a given that my fliers are heading off in that direction come Friday morning.  More of that will come out as I write not the next scene, but the scene after.

Now, gear.  There are tents, cots, and sleeping bags, not to mention food and hydration systems.  Let’s get this out of the way right now:  these are not TARDIS tents.  They are not bigger on the inside and decked out with all the comforts of home.    Nope, these tents are simple two-person, four season, cabin tents with a vestibule, just like Normal people use.

Though most of overnight tents will be combinations of black and white.

Just like this, though most of overnight tents will be combinations of black and white for tundra conditions.

The reason for having a vestibule is simple:  it’s a place where brooms and backpacks can be stored for the evening and remain out of the elements.  When the vestibule is zipped closed, it makes it easier to get things needed without having to worry about letting in wind and, in the case of these campers, maybe snow.

The cots are ultra light and remain close to the ground.  This way while they fill up the floor of the tent, they’re not so impossibly large that it makes it difficult to move around.  You can be assured that the sleeping bags will be able to handle the cold, either in the middle of Maine in mid-December, or somewhere in Canada in the middle of January.

It looks so cozy in there, doesn't it?

It looks so cozy in there, doesn’t it?

How are they going to carry all this stuff?  Thirty-six liter backpacks, that’s how.

Like these, only without the scenery.

Like these, only without the scenery.

Everything they’re gonna carry–save for their brooms–goes in the packs, and I know what you’re thinking:  how do they get everything in there?  Well, you’re gonna find out about the Compression and Expansion spells soon enough, and for the advanced fliers not in Advanced Spells–*cougheveryonebutonekidcough*–those are two spells they have to know by the end of their B Levels or they’re not gonna be allowed off the school grounds to go camping alone.  Does this mean Kerry knows these spells?  Well . . . you’ll have to see, won’t you?

It should also go without saying that the material is enchanted so it’s stronger, more resistant to cold and wind and rain, even a little lighter.  Now, that doesn’t means that the cold stays out completely–after all, what if you’re stuck with nothing but Normal equipment?  You may just have to rough it, or know how to craft the right spells to keep yourself nice and comfy.

Like I say quite often, writing isn’t always writing.  You want to get little details like these down, then you do your research and get everything together.  This is why getting scenes written don’t always go as smoothly as expected.  Sometimes you really do have to find the things you need to make the things you say sound a little more convincing.

Bags Are Packed and Ready to Fly

First off, the shoulders are better, though some of that might have been due to whatever the hell I was drinking last night.  I had two, they were good, and they had tequila in them, so that was an even better treat.  The problems come from a bad chair at home and the repetitive motion of adjusting my bra straps, and right there I’ve narrowed down the issues to the root cause.  So get a new chair and stop adjusting the straps.  It’ll help.

This means I did get started on the new Part/Chapter/Scene last night, but a combination of coming down off tequila and trying not to aggravate my shoulders meant not a lot of writing.

This is how we begin the new parts.  See?

This is how we begin the new parts. See?

Also, whenever I start something new it’s a bit rocky.  I know what I want to say, but getting it said it just hard, I tell you, hard!  And, in the following that I wrote, not a single line of dialog.  Watch:

 

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

Normally Thursday afternoons would have seen Annie and Kerry attending B Level Formulistic Magic between thirteen and sixteen-thirty, but since they were in Advanced Formulistic Magic on Monday afternoons—when nearly everyone else was either in Study Period or helping out in other classes—this was an open period for them.

Tuesday afternoons were also a free period for them both, but Kerry had Advanced Transformation Crafting after dinner and Annie usually chose that time to study in the Black Vault when she wasn’t sitting in on class, so they were back in class after dinner.

Because they didn’t have any classes after dinner, it meant Thursday afternoons—as well as Sunday afternoons and evenings—represented part of the most free time Annie could share with Kerry since the start of racing season. From the moment they left Mid-Level Sorcery Theory and Applications for lunch until they left Friday morning breakfast for Annie’s Flight Gift Training at nine, they could spend just over twelve hours together—

More if they somehow managed to find a place to sleep together—which they’d yet to do.

There wouldn’t be any free time after dinner tonight, however; Annie wouldn’t even eat dinner with Kerry. Later this afternoon she would dine with Coraline and Deanna while Kerry headed northward with the rest of the Advanced Flight One for their overnight camping trip at Baxter State Park in Central Maine, their first of several tests this school year that would prepare them for the Polar Express that took place during the student’s C Levels.

They wouldn’t be camping in any Normal sites: they’d be somewhere deeper within the park, at least ten kilometers from the nearest regular site, somewhere along the shoreline of Matagamon Lake. They’d unpack and set up their tents in the dark, eat rations similar to what they’d carry during the Polar Express, and likely stay up until close to twenty-three before heading off to their cots and sleeping bags for the nights.

According to Kerry the plan for Friday was to rise about five-thirty, have a quick breakfast, clean up and see to their toilet, then be airborne by seven-thirty or eight for a full day of flying. He was unsure about where they were headed, however: all Nadine—who was joining the overnight trip as an assistant—would tell them after Advanced Spells last night was to expect to fly “a lot.”

Annie had heard something different from both Penny and Alex that morning while they were in the girl’s bathroom getting ready. They said that when they did the overnight flight last year, they’d flown northwest into Canada, turned westward for about five hundred kilometers, then turned southeast and made their way back to the school. Alex said they flew about two thousand kilometers that day, returning home several hours after sunset.

Annie suspected tomorrow would see much the same for Kerry, if not more.

 

 

There you have it:  Kerry is flying off to do some camping, which means Annie’s off the leash and ready to dine with Coraline and Deanna.  You can bet no other students are doing that–but then, no other students in Advanced Flight One are leaving a soul mate behind.  And this is the first time she’ll be at school overnight without Kerry somewhere on the grounds, and the same for him not having Annie close by.

Where is Kerry gonna camp?  I’ll let you in on a little secret:

Right here.

Right here.

Specifically, right near that sandy, open area.  The tents will be in the woods, but the fires will be in that open area–just in case.  And just as stated, that’s on the shore of Matagamon Lake, with Mount Katahdin way in the background.  And if I know they are camping their, you know I have a map.

And it’s gonna get shown.