On Beyond Recruitment: Your Left and Right

It’s been a good day today.  Money in the bank, dues are paid, I’ve got pills to keep me mostly sane for another month, and I don’t ache like I did yesterday.

It was so good that I didn’t realize something important happened a couple of days ago.

First off, Chapter Twenty-two is finished: I just put the last word down on that about fifteen minutes ago.

You can see for yourself.

 

While I was doing a word count check I realized that I’d passed another milestone by a couple of thousand words, and when I looked back I realized that back on 19 June, I passed a quarter of a million words for this novel.  In fact, it happened close to the end of the excerpt I posted yesterday.

Right in the area I mention, in case you’re wondering.

 

 

Realistically speaking, I’m probably over the hump now, because I figured this novel will likely top out at some point between 450,000 and 500,000 words.  Yeah, that’s right.  I figure that because I know of all the shit waiting for my kids on down the road and it’s sizable.  That means it may just take a half a million words to get that tale told.

And speaking of tales…

As the title tonight suggest, it’s no longer Recruitment Night, but rather, it’s the Monday practice night for our new junior derby girls.  And as I’ve done for the last few nights, you get all of the scene tonight.

Let’s do just that:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie rolled out on to the floor and slowly circled the track, working her legs while getting a feel for her new skates. After the fitting on Saturday morning—where she was one of the first ones to show, as promised—she decided to go with the Bonts, since they felt the most comfortable on her feet. A few of the girls went with Riedell and six decided to stick with the Mota, but the majority of the girls who came for skates went with the Australian manufacturer.

As promised, all skates were waiting for those who showed for this first Monday night practice. Not only that, but the gear they used the previous Thursday was waiting, as well as a rolling bag they could use to store and transport their gear from coven to practice and back.

There was so much to learn about her equipment. When she was handed her skates, Holly mentioned they were fitted with 93a wheels and that they’d tighten the trucks if necessary, which made Annie’s eyebrows shoot upwards before she asked what they all meant. There was plenty of time. Right now she just wanted to move around the track and get the feel of her wheels under her feet.

The rest would come later.

 

Though, just like Annie, I started out on Riedell skates, I now use Bont skates.  I’ve never tried on Mota skates, but I know a couple of people who have and love them, and if I’d tried them off first I might have been the same way.  But no, I went Down Under to get my skates, mate.

And here they are while I’m changing out wheels:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BjYEfp5Awrm/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

The green wheels on the left are outdoor wheels known Atom Poison.  They’re quite soft–and 84a if you must know–which makes them grip the pavement nicely.  The wheels on the right are the ones I use at the rink, Radar Halo 93a wheels, which is a much harder wheel. Annie’s wheels are Radar Prestos of the same rating as mine, so they’ll look a little different.

(When I talk about hard and soft wheels, I’m talking about the Shore Hardness scale as measured on a durometer.  The A scale is used for flexible mold rubbers, which is what skate wheels are made of, and that’s why there’s an “a” after the wheel number.  The higher the number, the harder the wheel, so a Radar Halo 101a is about as hard as you can get before going up to the “D” scale. And if you’re wondering, my skate wheels–and Annie’s–are as hard as the wheels found on a shopping cart.)

But you can only go so far on hardware: it’s how you use that hardware that counts.  And for that, Annie and the others have coaches–

 

Eventually everyone was on the track doing warm-up laps. They were only out for about two minutes before Angry, Holly, and Princess skated out and weaved their way through the girls to the center of the track. Angry watched the girls for about ten seconds before blowing a whistle attached to the fingers of her right hand. “Okay, bring it to the center and make a circle around us.”

It took about twenty seconds for everyone to stop and get into a circle around the three women. Angry gave an approving look to the girls before speaking. “You all look good out there. Some better than others, but that doesn’t matter: you’re not gonna be pros overnight.

“Tonight the real work starts. Tonight we’re going to begin learning first how to skate, then second, learning how to play derby. Some of you will move faster than others, but that will happen: everyone progressing at different rates. What matters is that all of us are at the same point when the school year ends.

“Now, I want you all to do something for me.” Angry pointed outward from herself. “Each of you, take a look to your left and then to your right. When you’re done, I want all eyes back on me.” Once every skater did as asked Angry continued. “I want you to remember the people next to you, ‘cause it’s quite likely that one of those people may not be here at the end of the school year.

“That’s not meant to scare you: it’s meant as a statement of fact. Right now we have thirty-seven skaters and I would be beyond ecstatic if all thirty-seven of you are certified and bout ready when we leave here next May. But I know derby and I know real life has a way of interfering with your progress, so it’s likely some of you will leave due to those pressures. If so, there’s no shame: all three of us have, at one time or another, needed to step away from our leagues due to our real lives.

“It’s also likely that after a few weeks or months, a few of you may decide that derby isn’t for you. I won’t lie: It’s not going to be easy to get to where you are certified and bout ready. Derby isn’t easy: as a former teammate of mine liked to say, if derby was easy, then everyone would play. And since everyone isn’t playing…” She shrugged. “It must not be that easy.

“When this project was presented to the Sports Division of the Educational Council, I was asked two question: did I want to put together the teams needed to bring this sport to the North American schools, and did I want Salem? In case you’re wondering, I said yes to both. That means I’m responsible if this program fails, particularly here, at this school. And I don’t want it to fail, not for me, and most definitely not for you.

“So I, and these women standing with me, will tell you this: if you give us everything we ask of you, we will teach you everything we know and help you develop as a skater. Nothing we’re going to ask of you wasn’t already asked of us—though, in all honesty, you’re doing this at a younger age, which is why our program is tailored to the three-stage JRDA program assessments. Still, it’s gonna require work—and if you work for us, we’ll work for you.”

 

We know Recruitment Night started out with 43 girls and now their down to 37, which means they lost fourteen percent of their starting pool.  And that whole left and right thing?  Totally possible.  From my Recruitment Night there were ten of us that started: I, like Ishmael, remain to tell the story of that event.  As it was relayed to me once, it’s not out of the question to see about ten percent of the people recruited at one event to stay until they certify and play.  We’ve been fortunate with our last few Recruitment Nights in that we’ve retained a lot of the women who came out…

But live does get in the way of derby.  We’re not paid to play: we do it because we want to.  So it’s not out of the question to have players drop out for any number of reasons.  Some come back: most don’t. As Angry says, there’s no shame to walk away if it’s required.

And her comment about a teammate saying if derby was easy, everyone would play?  That comment was made to me on more than one occasion by my teammate, Redrum Doll, who I want to be when I grow up.  And if we ever get a chance to play together, the other team is gonna catch hell…

Now that all the touchy-feely stuff is out of the way, let’s get into some rules:

 

Angry waited for all the nodding and small talk to diminish before getting serious. “Now, as I said I have a couple of degrees in law, which means I’m all about the rules. And one of the rules I have—” She raised her voice enough that she could be heard without difficulty. “When I say practice begins a nineteen hours, I mean I expect you to be geared up and on the track at that time. I don’t mean that four or five of you are still on the sidelines, taking your time putting on your pads while you and your teammates bullshit around about your hard day crafting spells. That shit ends right now. You wanna practice? You practice like it means something to you.

“One of the things I’m big on is cardio, and one great way of building up cardio endurance is to skate laps—fast. Every practice we’re gonna start with cardio lap, ‘cause if nothing else we’re gonna outlast whatever team we play all the way to the end. Also, one of your Level One Assessments is to be able to skate eight laps in two minutes, which works out to skating one lap of the WFTDA track every fifteen seconds.

“From this point on, for every skater who is late getting on to the track for practice, we will skate five laps for every minute those skaters held us up from getting to our work. That means—” She looked at a few skaters who wouldn’t meet her gaze. “—since three of you were a minute late and two were two minutes later, we should be skating at least thirty-five laps—on top of whatever other cardio laps I had planed for our time together.

 

Angry probably wouldn’t be this mean with a normal group of 14 year old girls, ’cause their parents would be up in her face if she were, but these are not Normal girls: they’re witches and they’re expect to be pushed to be the best at the best school in The Foundation.  And given that a few of them besides Annie have likely killed people–you know, the stray Deconstructor that found their way on to the school grounds during a certain Day of the Dead–you don’t expect things to go easy with them.

And that “be on the track or skate extra laps” is not just something I’ve made up.  Our league expects us to be geared up and on the floor when practice starts.  Some league will make you skate extra cardio laps for people getting on the floor late, but since we’re adults we usually end up doing 10 laps for every minute late.  Now, I’ve never had to skate extra laps because of people being late, but one time my league did have to skate 50 laps instead of 40 because I made a groaning sound after our guest coach said we’d skate 40 laps and she tacked on 10 extra for that shit.  I apologized to both her and my coach when I was done and believe me, I’ve never done that again.  You just take your laps.

In case you’re curious, the most cardio laps I’ve skated at one time was 80, which means I skated 14,440 ft/4,400 m in that session.  That works out to 2.73 mi/4.4 km if you’re keeping track.  The greatest number of laps I’ve skated at near-cardio speeds was 120 done in three separate sessions as a pack.  I didn’t keep up with the pack on the last two sessions, but I did skate all 120 laps. That’s 4.1 mi/6.62 km if you’re keeping track–

But Angry is feeling a bit generous tonight…

 

“I’m gonna go easy on you today—but only today. Pack it up on the pivot line.” Holly and Princess skated on to the track and pointed at a bright blue line at the entrance to one turn which Angry shouted out instructions. “I want a loose pack, everyone about an arm’s length from everyone else. Princess is gonna set the pace: do not pass her. Holly and I will bring up the back and help anyone struggling. If you fall, try to fall small like we showed you Thursday night then get up and come back after the pack passes.” Holly and Angry skated to the back as Princess prepared to lead the pack. “Okay? Twenty laps, easy pace. Go.” She brought the whistle to her lips and blew hard.

Annie took off, moving partway to the outside of the track where there was more room. She clenched her teeth to set her mouth guard, then concentrated on the girls around her, making certain she didn’t run over anyone—or get run over in the process.

She was two thirds of the way around the track when she heard Angry call her name. “Annie. You’re at front of the pack. Call the laps.”

“Yes, Coach.” She waited until they crossed the same blue line from which they started. “One.”

Angry called out instantly. “Nineteen to go, freshies. Let’s do this.”

Annie smiled, certain no one saw her.

It was going to be an interesting two hours—

 

So starts Annie’s Derby Days.  And there’s one more scene to present before I’m finished with her current torture, but in this world of mine it’s time to focus on what happens next in the novel.

And I’ve already decided:

It’s time for my kids to spend Yule in Pamporvo…

The Road to Recruitment: All the Little Moves

Yeah, I’m coming to this late.  And yeah, I haven’t written anything–

Yet.

It’s been a long last 24 hours. Part of that is due to getting my ass kicked hard last night at practice, because I was working on timing and hitting drills with the vets–yay, insurance!–and I did a lot of that work against a couple of our faster players.  That meant I had to push hard just to try and keep up and while I did my best, it wasn’t always that good.  Still, I kept at it and my thighs and butt are still screaming at me today.

Also, I did a 27/5 where I fell on the second lap.  I did finish with a time of 5:52, however, ’cause I got up and kept going.  Even though I knew I’d have a shit time, the thing to do it finish it out.  These days if I get on the line, I’ll get the time.

I should point out that it was almost a year ago last night that I had one of my first real practices–which I happened to photograph.  There’s the before:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVipQxyAmzz/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

And the after:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVi3O5RA1aK/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

If I remember correctly I may have managed 20 laps during cardio.  Back in those days I was pretty shit because I was so out of shape, but I was getting better–though I doubt I did anything like a 40/10 at that point.  That might not have happened until sometimes in July.

What’s up next is what happened to Annie at her Recruitment Night.  A lot of what happens to her is a lot of what I’ve seen at various Recruitment Nights over the last year, though I’m sure a 14 year old girl might not get it as hard as I got.

Let’s see how she did.

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

An hour after getting fully geared, Annie didn’t need to wonder what she and the other girls had gotten into.

She knew.

Angry and Holly and Princess—as they were told, during practice it was derby names only—showed them simple moves and encouraged them to perform them as well. They did knee drops—left, right, and both—where they’d drop to the ground and get back up after a few seconds without using their hands. A couple of girls, Annie among them, figured out quickly how to touch the ground with one knee and slid back up to a skating position quickly, earning some praise from the coaches in the process. They also learned to do something called “falling small”, which seemed to consist of getting down on both knees as quickly as possible, pulling your arms in as you sat back on your heels, and leaning over so as to make a small ball on the floor.

 

Falling Small is important because if you fall and then “starfish” on the floor–which is to say, your legs and arms are out wide from your body–and someone trips over a body part, you’ll get called for a low block on the player.  It doesn’t matter that they tripped over you, it’s your fault you’re spread out on the floor.  Ergo, learn to fall small.

And knee drops–all the kinds–are part of our Minimum Required Skills needed for certification.  You’re expect to get down and back up in 3 seconds without the use of hands.

Now my favorite part:

 

Then they learned about stops. First a plow, which Annie figured out quickly as it was much like plowing on skis. Then a t-stop, which involved putting one foot at right angles behind the other and using it like a break: that one she didn’t figure out right away. Then there was a transition stop, which they were shown but, as explained, they didn’t figure many would get it as few of them had ever been on skates, so they weren’t expected to try—

Unless they wanted.

About a dozen girls tried, each in groups of three with the coaches hovering over them since most had never been on skates, including Annie. She watched Holly go through the motions of the transition three times before trying it herself and her first attempt found her falling on her side. Holly helped her back on her wheels and to the coach’s—and Annie’s—surprise, Annie wanted to try again. This time she spun around one hundred and eighty degrees, but it was a sloppy mess and Annie thought about halfway through the transition she was going down again.

 

Though I’m getting better, I suck at plows.  Part of it is mental: I just can’t seem to sit back and push out my heels enough to get a fast stop.  Since I now “trust my skates” enough to do a good crossover during a 27/5, I need to trust them to plow.

As for t-stops and 180 transition stops–yeah, got it.  Though I tend to let my leg swing out on a 180 and I need to stop that, too.  There’s always work for you, no matter how good you get.

Now on to something I love–

 

Then, because there were so many skaters, the girls were broken into two groups, and put into what Angry called a pace line. What they did was simple: they skated around the track, keeping a certain amount of space between each person in line. Annie was in the second group and watched the first group skate slowly around the track for a couple of laps before they were stopped by Angry, who said now that they could do that much, it was time to learn how to weave through the line—

The way it was presented it seemed simple: the person in the front skated to the front, weaving between the skaters until they took the lead, after which the newest person at the back of the line did the same, until everyone went through. The moment Princess started out at the back as a way of showing the skaters—Annie reminded herself they were called Freshies—three girls asked to drop out of the pack, fearing they couldn’t keep up or make it through the pack. Angry allowed it and, after starting, everyone in the line managed one trip through the line with Holly’s and Princess’ help.

Annie’s pack got their turn next.

They started with twenty-one girls, but two immediately asked if they could sit out. Angry didn’t hold it against them and told Holly and Princess to begin. The assistant coach skated to the front, weaving pass Annie so close that she wondered if there really was enough room between them. Four more skaters took their turns—

Then it was Annie’s time to go.

When she heard her name called she took a deep breath and hesitated for a moment: it was the first time she felt doubt in doing something since her Levitation lab that first night in Advanced Spells just over two years ago. A moment later she skated out of line before moving to her right, cutting in front of Farah Charobim, who was directly in front of her. She then slipped to her left and passed in front of the next skater, and the next, and the next after that. While she wasn’t fast or particularly agile, Annie found a rhythm that allowed her to get through with little problem, though like the other skaters she found having to skate up to the pack when they were outside of them in a turn to be difficult.

When then last freshie made it to the front and they were asked to plow, Annie felt as if she’d accomplished something great.

 

This is the first time we’ve seen Annie show any kind of hesitation when it comes to school things since one night over two years before, probably because she’s out of her element. We know she does have doubt, but she’s gotten really good at hiding it away from other.  And yet, she made it through.

I love weaving and I’m pretty good at it.  When you get better you get to hit people, which we were doing a little last night.  From 8/8 of 2017, here’s a bit of line weaving with some hitting.

 

So Annie made it through all that stuff–which means she’s doing what?  Right now, she’s getting ready to leave…

 

After they finished Angry released everyone and reminded the girls that if they wanted to start practice next Monday, they should be in the Dining Hall at 09:30 so they could try on, and be fitted for, they own skates. She was half way to one of the benches when Princess skated up next to her. “Annie.”

Annie quickly plowed and slowly turned to face the woman. “Yes—” She reached up so she could remove her mouth piece—

“No, don’t do that.” Princess waved her hand and Annie stopped. “Start learning how to talk with it in.”

“Okay.”

“You did well tonight.” The coach ran her gaze from the floor up. “I hope you’re coming back on Saturday.”

Annie knew the answer without needing time to think. “I should be here first thing.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” Princess smiled. “I have a good feeling about you. I hope you stay with us.” She turned and skated off.

Annie continued towards the bench, found an open spot, and sat. She removed her helmet first then she skates, as she remembered that they weren’t allowed to stand on their skates if they weren’t wearing a helmet. She wanted to start making good habits now.

When she was finished Annie took her gear and returned it to the same small table where it had been placed originally. As she turned to leave Kerry approached. He gave her a big smile and a quick kiss before speaking. “Did you have fun?”

A smile broke out on Annie’s face. “I did. Were you watching me?”

He turned to walk with her. “Only a little. They said I’m not needed right away, but they thought I may make a good penalty timer.” He chuckled. “Whatever they do.” He glanced at Annie. “But I did see you in the pack.”

“How did I look?”

“Good. A little shaky but not as bad as some of the girls.” He leaned in close and spoke in a softer voice. “You coming back?”

Annie took his hand and kissed it. “What do you think?”

Kerry smiled. “I think you’ve found something you’re gonna like.”

 

This is really the first time we’ve heard Annie ask Kerry about how she looked and if he saw her for anything.  She didn’t care how she looked when she was fighting, she doesn’t seem to care about how she looks when she’s crafting–but tonight, she wanted to know if Kerry saw her.

It’s almost like she wanted him to appreciate she was doing something different…

The Road to Recruitment: Ready Derby One

Today hasn’t been the greatest.  I’ve been going back and forth about… stuff… with the soon-to-be-ex and it’s driving me nuts.  I had to visit a blood doctor because my white cell count is up over 10,000 and no one knows why.  I had two jobs respond to my resumes and they told me I wasn’t “right” for them, which probably means they think I want too much money given my age.

Yeah, not a good day.

So what did I do?  I wrote.

Oh, am I getting some writing done.

 

This is the four time in four days I’ve written over a thousand words and I do hope I keep it up.  What this means for now is that I’m two scene, or about 2,400 words, ahead of what I’m posting today.  It’s nice having a surplus, you know?  It doesn’t stress me out.

Here you go: all of the second scene in one bit, with explanations in between.  After all, I don’t want to confuse you all.

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie was with forty-two other girls sitting in a circle in the middle of what they were told was the track upon which they’d play. Like Annie, the other girls were wearing their elbow and knee pads along with their wrist guards. Some were wearing their mouth guards, trying to get used to wearing an appliance over their teeth without gagging, though a few weren’t succeeding…

Just before the last of the girls were in their gear and moving towards the center of the track, the two women who’d help them get checked in and ready went behind a privacy screen. Though Annie had heard a reference to someone named “Angry”, she’d yet to see this person. She knew it wasn’t one of the two women they’d already met: as she learned when she was given her release form, the tall blond was named Princess and she discovered from Elisha that the woman checking them in was named Holly. Annie believed these weren’t their correct names: Kerry discovered, through his research, that everyone on a team has a “derby name”, so she figured the names given were those.

The screen dropped and Holly and Princess headed towards the group, fully geared, including helmets and skates. They stopped just outside the circle and motioned for the girls to move apart enough to allow a third woman to skate into the center. As she reached the middle she widened her stance and spin through a hundred and eighty degree turn, going up on her toes and coming to a stop so Annie could just see her right profile.

Annie examined her closely. She was not too tall—maybe a meter six-five—but her upper arms and thighs were quite muscular, as were her calves. She had long, ginger hair pulled back in a pony tail and short nails painted black. Like Holly, this woman also had a great many colored tattoos which showed up well against her pale complexion. The ones on her arms extended about midway down her forearms and she had a large tattoo on her left calf, something easily seen as the woman was wearing short leggings.

The woman put her hands on her hips and looked around. “I’m surprised to see so many here tonight; I expected maybe half this number.” She slowly turned in place as she spoke. “My name is Angry Orange, though people outside of derby know me as Lucy van der Sloot. If the name and the accent didn’t give it away, I’m from The Netherlands: Buchten, in case you’re wondering. I’m also a former student of Salem, having graduated in 2007. I’m a member of Ceridwen Covern, but that doesn’t make me an expert on transformation magic: just ask Professor Kishna the next time you see her and she can give you details.

“For my Real Life Experience I maintained an apartment in Amsterdam while traveling the world, ‘cause I always wanted to live there. And once my RLE was over and it was time to go to school, in 2008 I began attending the University of Amsterdam. I graduated three years later with a bachelors in Law and just this last spring I finished my masters program in International Criminal Law. So now you know: I’m a stickler for rules and regs.

 

Now you know: some witches go into college and becoming big-time lawyers.  It’s not a surprise Lucy–I’m sorry, I mean Angry Orange–went into law, because if she works for The Foundation, she can set up in some corporate front and now how to handle all those pesky Normals.  She could even get a job with, say, Interpol, which gives her a leg up in knowing what they’re up to.

Unlike a certain witch universe, it helps to not only keep an eye on the Normals, but to be right down in them from time-to-time.

But Ms. Lucy ain’t here to teach law.  No, she’s got something else on her mind:

 

“But it was the summer of 2009 where I found my life really changing. I was hanging out in the city, enjoying the museums and coffee shops and everything else Amsterdam has to offer, when I fell in with these women who were doing something—different. They were putting together Amsterdam’s first derby league, the Amsterdam Derby Dames. Now, I’d not done any sports here: I’m not a fighter and I couldn’t race on a broom to save my life. But once I understood how to play roller derby, and once I got to where I was good enough to play, I fell in love with the sport. I’ve been a part of ADD since the beginning and technically, I still am, though I’m on sort of a leave of absence right now…

“Late in 2011 I discovered that Edinburgh had not only put a league together and was playing some of the Normal derby leagues around them, but that Dragon Home, KSBE, and Le Fortier’s were also putting together leagues. ECMI not only put their league together without help from the outside, but they applied for, and was accepted into, the Junior Roller Derby Association—which is to say, they’re pretty much to play with any other junior league in the Normal world.

“So me and a few other witches who play derby got together and decided that with things in the derby arena going well on our side of the ocean, why not bring the same thing here? So while the three of us are here—” She motioned to the other women on skates next to her. “—there are others at Dawson Creek, Tech Pec, and Sky and Summit, all working to set up leagues that can play against each other—and, in time, play against Normal leagues in their regions.”

 

At the time of this excerpt–November, 2013–that particular league to which Angry Orange did indeed go by the name Amsterdam Derby Dames, but recently–2017, actually–they changed their name to Amsterdam Roller Derby, and that’s how they’re known today.

There’s also a lot of names thrown around: Dragon Home, KSBE, Dawson Creek… These are all schools and training centers in my little Foundation Universe, none of which save maybe Edinburgh you’re heard of before now.  So a quick run down:

 

ECMI, Edinburgh Center for Magical Instruction, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Dragon Home, Home of the Winter Dragon (Hem för Winter Draken), Fatsjön, Sweden

KSBE, Kellenberg School for Gifted Development (Kellenberg Schule für Begabte Entwicklung), Reiselfingen, Germany  (Note: this school has a heavy emphasis on sorcery and it was one of the places Annie was planing to go before learning Kerry was going to attend Salem.)

Le Fortier’s, aka The Girls Club, Le Fortier’s School for Girls, Dijon, France (Note: this is where Mathilde was teaching before she was ask to take over as headmistress of Salem.)

Dawson Creek, aka Alaska Gate, Dawson Creek Science Center, Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada  (Note: it’s nicknamed Alaska Gate because this is the location of the southern terminus of the Alaska Highway.)

Tech Pec, Center For Special Studies (Centro de Estudios Especiales), Tehuantepec, Mexico

Sky and Summit aka S and S, Sky and Summit Observatory, Granby, Colorado, United States

 

There you have it: a nice cross section of schools The Foundation maintains.  And that’s just a few of them: there are a whole lot more, with three we know of from the first novel in Chile, South Africa, and Australia.  Just wait until we see some of the others.

So a couple of these joints have derby leagues and Angry and company are bringing the sport to North America, where it started.

And like the Cylons, they have a plan:

 

Angry began skating slowly in a circle, taking time to look at each girl seated on the floor. “We have a plan and while it’s ambitious, it’s also doable as hell. Starting next week, we begin practice in ernest. Monday and Thursday nights and Sunday afternoon, two hours each day, except every other Thursday we practice for three. Each practice is going to be held in a time compression field, so no matter how much time we spend on practice here, one hour will pass outside this hall.

“In order to play, each of you must pass a set of minimum required skating skills as laid out by JRDA for their leagues and we intend to follow a ‘boot camp’-style format to get there. I will be your head coach. Holly Goblightly—” Angry motioned to the brunette to her right. “—is my assistant coach. And Princess Powerpuff—” She motioned to the tall blond on her left, who curtsied when named. “—will act as our Fresh Meat coach next school year. Since you are all fresh meat at the moment, Princess will spent extra time this year with those who we feel require assistance to pass their MRSs, particularly at the Skill Level 3 assessment. This is to say if you need help getting bout ready, she’s gonna be kicking your little butts as hard as she can.

“By the end of February and the beginning of March, we expect to see the first of you pass your MRS: by the end of April we expect everyone who started practice, and is still with us, to certified. And by the end of next September, when all of you have returned to school for your next level, I expect to have the first roster set up for our first bout at the end of October, for the Samhain celebration.

 

MRS are your Minimum Required Skills needed to get certified, and with the JRDA you have a three level system you go through, building upon what you need to know before moving onto more advanced stuff.  Level 1 is all about basics, Level 2 is more advanced stuff and developing track awareness, and Level 3 is where you get into hitting and stuff.  Level 3 is also where you do your 27/5, which is the crap I’ve been working on for months.  But Annie and the others are young and should have plenty of energy.

And now you have they overall plan: certify and get everyone bout ready by the end of the school year, and have them ready for their first bout over Samhain weekend, 2014.  Which means you’ll likely see Annie play if she can.  What am I saying…?

In case you didn’t notice, the three coaches all have the same color hair as The Powerpuff Girls.  That’s not a coincidence.  I intended that from the start.

 

“In case you are wondering this is the reason we have A Levels here for recruitment.” Angry spun around and began skating backwards at about a half as normal walking pace. “No one will play this year: it’s all about getting your certified and bout ready. Next year, when everyone’s moved up a level, you’ll be eligible to play. At that time we’ll take in A Levels as our newest Fresh Meat, but we’ve reassured the headmistress that only under the agreement of all three coaches will those freshies be allowed to play before becoming B Levels. If we have enough people next year, it’s possible we could develop a second team—but that’s a decision for next year—

“This year it’s all about teaching you what we know and how to use that knowledge. And in order to do that, we first have to get you on skates. Everyone on your feet.” Angry stopped skating as all the girls in the circle stood. “You need to go over to the gear area laid out for you, get your helmet and your skates, and finish gearing up. Tonight all of you will use Riedell R3s; for those of you who intend to continue beyond tonight, we’ll meet this Saturday morning to size you up and pick out your skates.” She smiled. “Trust me when I say we’ll have your skates ready for you come next Monday’s practice.” Angry turned to the women standing in the middle of the circle. “That’s all I have to say.”

Both nodded and smiled before Princess skated to one side of the circle, spun around, and came to a stop. “Okay, Freshies.” Her voice boomed out through the hall. “Let’s get you geared up all the way so we can see what you can do.”

 

Now you know why A Levels are there: they won’t play because no one is playing this year.  And next year A Levels can join the madness and be Fresh Meat and maybe even play if they get permission.  But for now, everyone starts the same, everyone learns the same.

Which means it about time they learn something…

The Road to Recruitment: Here Be Gear

The writing continues and the derby chapter has seen a couple of changes.  First up, I finished the second scene, which means in two days time I’ve written a total of 3,301 words, which is pretty much a record for me of late.  It’s probably due to getting some of my writing energy back, though I imagine part of the deal is just finding that I’ve writing about something I know and care a whole lot about.  Write what you know?  I’m sort of doing that.

Also, today I did something I’ve not done in a while: I added two scenes to Chapter Twenty-two.  So what, you say? The two scenes take place on different days and I did that because, (1) I wanted to continue what I’m working on with this chapter, and (2) I didn’t want to start another chapter just for these couple of scenes.  Since they are logical extensions of what’s happening in this chapter, it only makes sense I keep it all contained here.

Sometimes you gotta add them ’cause it makes sense.

 

Annie’s got the release forms out of the way, so what’s next?  How about gear?  Yeah, sounds like a good idea.  But first–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie turned quickly to Kerry. “See you after?”

He smiled. “You know it.”

The blond immediately directed Annie towards a number of tables filled with equipment. “Name?”

“Annie Kirilova.”

“Okay, you’re right over here.” They moved a couple of meters to their left and stopped before what looked like some kind of protective gear, a helmet, and a pair of skates laying on their sides. “Okay, I’m gonna give you the quick gear up tutorial: I’ll tell you what’s what, but we want you to put it on. I’ll help you if you run into issue. Sound good?”

Annie nodded. “It does.”

 

Say your goodbyes to Kerry, kid, ’cause you’re about to enter a whole new world.  And here it comes:

 

“All right, then. These—” The blond held up something that looked like fingerless gloves. “These are wrist guards. They’re designed to keep you from breaking your wrists if you take a fall. You thumb goes through here—” She pushed her thumb through a hole in the soft leather. “—and you wrap the straps around so they fasten on the top. Remember, this plate—” She turned the guard so Annie saw a long plate embedded into the leather. “—always goes on the bottom part of your wrist.

“These—” She held up something that looked like a sleeve with a hard shell on one side. “These are your elbow pads. You slip them over your arms until they are fixed over your elbows. Remember, the shell is on the outside and this rounded part—” She touched the hard shell. “—goes closer to your upper arm.

“Last we have knee pads.” She picked one up. “You’re gonna spend a lot of time falling, so these are important. There are straps in the back that help hold it against your legs, then this strap—” She tugged on a large, thick one. “—goes at the top, around your leg to fasten on the top. The bottom strap goes through this buckle and then you pull it tight and Velcro it together. Keep the buckle on the inside of your leg. Any questions?”

Annie had one. “Are you sure these will fit me?”

The tall blond laughed. “We got your body measurements from your CMO about four hours ago, so yes, it’ll all fit. Besides, there are sizing enchantment in place so some scaling will likely take place.”

“I thought that might be the case.” She picked up the helmet. Unlike the ones Kerry wore while racing, this one looked more like the ones they’d wear for casual flying. “Same with this?”

“Absolutely. You won’t have to put that one until after Angry gives her speech, but keep in mind, any time you’re here with us and you’re wearing skates, you need your helmet on. It’s an insurance violation if you don’t.”

 

First off, this is all the same stuff I have.  For a bit of reference, last November, 2017, I did a black and white challenge on Facebook, where you took one B&W photo a day for seven days and posted it to your wall.  One of the photos was of my then derby gear, and here it is:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bbr8c8VBsOE/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

All the stuff here is the same as Annie’s, though I have a couple of differences.  First off, in the foreground, is the protective gear.  Left to right are the wrist guards, the elbow pads, and the knee pads.  Annie’s wearing the same stuff, set for her body size–thanks to the hospital and Doctor Gallagher–and if there are adjustment needed, a little magic will take care of that.

In the back are my skates–The Riedell Darts that I used to wear–and my helmet.  The biggest different here is Annie is wearing a normal derby helmet, while these days I wear a hockey helmet, which I feel–as do other skaters–gives better protection.  If you want to see the differences, here’s my old purple helmet, which I gave to the league:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BYubGsLAGOi/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

And my current helmet:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BZ2OFlQAqWh/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

And when I’m all geared up I looked like this, taken one year after my recruitment night, wearing my Bont skates:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BkOKY3xA89p/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

In the gear picture above I showed knee gaskets, which I wore for a while because I needed the extra knee support.  They’ve gotten stronger and I rarely put them on now.  Also, in my “One Year After” picture, you can see pink tape on my right wrist guard.  That’s because the Velcro doesn’t stick well any longer, so I tape it up before practice. Hockey and Duct Tape are a derby girl’s best friend.  Trust me.

There’s also something visible in my hockey helmet picture, and we’re coming to that right now–

 

Annie set the helmet down. “Do we really worry about that?”

“Normally no, but if you’re outside the school playing Normal leagues, you could screw their insurance up if you aren’t following regs.” The blond picked up a small plastic case and removed a thin, flat piece of white plastic. “Open your mouth.” Annie did as told and the blond inserted the flat piece into her mouth. “Bite down and hold for about ten seconds.”

Annie did as told. For the first few seconds nothing happened, then she felt the plastic fold upward against her upper teeth. After ten seconds she opened her mouth and removed the molded plastic from her mouth. “What—?”

“That’s your mouth guard. You won’t be doing any hitting tonight, but you will if you decide to stay with this, you’ll need that.” The blond took the mouth guard and put it back inside its container, which she set next to the helmet. “Go over by those benches and put on your pads. After Angry talks we’ll get your geared up the rest of the way.” She pointed towards a group of long, flat seats not far from Kerry and a few others stood. “Go on.”

Annie took her wrist guards, elbow and knee pads, and walked over to closest clear spot, which happened to be next to Anna. The German girl—who had everything but her wrist guards on—looked to her friend as she sat. “What do you think?”

“Well—” Annie shrugged. “I don’t know yet.”

Anna sighed. “What exactly are we getting into?”

Annie chuckled as she set one of the knee pads into place. “I believe we’re going to find out soon.”

 

That pink think in my tank top strap is my mouth guard:  specifically, a Sisu mouth guard that I molded much the same way as Annie’s, though I needed hot water and my hands and not magic to achieve the same results.  If you don’t wear a mouth guard, you can do cool things like get in a pace line with the vets or hit, or block, or any stuff like that ’cause it’s an insurance violation otherwise.  Got to protect those teeth.  I actually have a couple of mouth guards, but my Sisu is the only one I can wear that doesn’t make me gag.

So Annie’s got her stuff and she’s almost ready to derby–

Almost.

The Road to Recruitment: Opening Night

Believe it or not, I’ve been writing.

It’s getting hot outside and plans aren’t always going the way I expect, so rather than spin my wheels, I decided to start writing.  I decided to start on the next chapter, number Twenty-Two, because–well, it’s something near and dear to my heart.

Four days after Annie projects her body into the Astral Realm, she goes to Recruitment Night to see if she has what it takes to be a derby girl.

And that meant I did something I haven’t done in a why: I wrote nearly two thousand words for a scene yesterday.

See that first part? That’s not a lie.

 

And, as you can see, I wrote nearly eight hundred and twenty-five words today, so for like the first time in a year I have a surplus of words to lay upon you today.  You’re not getting it all in the excerpt and since I’ll write more tomorrow, it’s quite likely I’ll have the second scene finished by the time I complete showing the first scene.

Hey, it’s always good to have more words than necessary.

So let’s get this party started and see what happens.  I’m sure it’s gonna be fun:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

It was rare that Annie came to the Great Hall on a Thursday night, even more rare that Kerry would appear with her. Thursday was one of their only “nights off” from the grind of the advanced classes. Monday night was the night they spent teaching each other; Tuesday night was Advanced Transformation; Wednesday night was Wednesday’s with Wednesday. And, of course, Friday and Saturday were the Midnight Madness were they spent their time relaxing and talking to friends, but they also loved having Thursday and Sunday night to themselves to do just about anything they liked.

But tonight wasn’t just a night off: tonight was an event Annie decided to attend a few weeks before and that Kerry decided to join once he discovered it was possible to participate without being as active in the same way his soul mate.

Tonight was Recruitment Night.

Since learning the school was putting together a derby team, Kerry did his usual diligence and found a great many videos on YouTube showing what appeared a lot of women on skates running into others and doing their best to knock them down—at least that’s how it appeared to Annie untrained eye. While it appeared dangerous, something made her want to learn more, which was her main reason for coming tonight. She didn’t know if she’d do anything beyond this first night—

But as Kerry told her several times over the last few nights, it never hurts to try something new at least once.

As they entered the Dining Hall Annie was surprised to discover that even though they were slightly early—students were asked to begin arriving between 19:30 and 20:00—there were what appeared to be close to forty students already here, with about a quarter of them being boys. She recognized several girls right away: Zoe Navarro, Anna Laskar, and Elisha Tasköprülüzâde from Åsgårdsreia; Felisa Ledesma from Blodeuwedd; Humaira Noor from Ceridwen; and Pleasure Pimenta and Fabienne Ratsiraka from Mórrígan. She also noticed three girls from their cover—Leonora Couture, Farah Charobim, and Rajani Siddiqui—and it took a few seconds for the fact to register that A Levels were allowed to try out for this sport, something not permitted for both the fighting and racing teams.

 

Way back in the first novel it was mentioned that A Levels couldn’t go out for racing or the fight teams, so it’s a big interesting that A Levels are being allowed to come out tonight. There’s a reason for this–don’t I always have one?–and it’ll eventually get explained when I start excerpting the next scene.  It’s all legal, otherwise the headmistress wouldn’t all it to happen.

Annie’s making some other observations–

 

She was also surprised that so many girls came wearing tee shirts and jeans, even though instructions they’d received via email said to wear leggings, sports bras, and workout tops. Annie figured that most of the girls here didn’t have the necessary clothing and were making do with what they had for tonight.

They queued up behind four other girls standing before a table at which a bi-ethnic woman with black hair tied back in pigtails and wearing a black tank top sat. She turned to Kerry and spoke softly. “I didn’t expect this many would show this early.”

Kerry looked around the room. “I didn’t expect this many, period. Did you notice the floor?”

“I did.” Normally the floor of the Dining Hall was a well-worn dark wood that was probably far older than it appeared. While the floor was still wood, it was notably lighter in color. Also, maybe fifteen meters from where they were waiting, one could see the outlines of what appeared to be a track. “I wonder how long it took Housekeeping to program in this configuration?”

“I’m sure someone had a configuration they could use.” He motioned forward with his head. “We’re next.”

 

Though I wore a tee shirt to my recruitment night, I also wore a pair of leggings ’cause I couldn’t imagine skating in jeans.  Which is to say, I do find it a bit surprising when people show up wearing jeans and they strap on their gear and head out on the floor.  After you’ve done it a while you start showing up in leggings, but first timers in jeans isn’t that out of the ordinary.

The track is already laid out and, again, there’s a reason why the floor has that configuration.  I mean, it’s not hard to find a track layout on the internet, someone would still have to “program it” into all the enchantments that allow the Dining Hall to have a number of different layouts. And now “Derby Flat Track” is one of those configurations.

The queue is moving and my kids are next in line.  Where they meet–

 

They waited less than a minute before coming face-to-face with the woman in the tank top. The first thing Annie noticed was the bright blue stud piercing her right nostril as well as a number of multi-colored images tattooed all over her right shoulder and upper arm. The other thing she noticed was the woman was, at best, maybe ten years older than her.

She looked up at Annie and smiled. “Name and coven.”

Annie cleared her throat. “Annie Kirilova, Cernunnos.”

She checked something off on her tablet before turning to Kerry. “And you?”

He straighted as he spoke. “Kerry Malibey, Cernunnos. I’m here for the stuff that doesn’t—”

“You mean a NSO position?” She smiled at him. “It’s all right, mate: I know you ain’t here to hit some bitches.” She pulled two small reading tablets off a stack to her left. “These are standard release forms. Read them thoroughly before signing.”

Annie took her tablet and examined it carefully. “Release forms?”

Kerry jumped in. “To absolve the school of any liability in case you get hurt.” He turned to the woman behind the table. “I had to sign one when I joined our racing team.”

The woman nodded a couple of times before turning back to Annie. “He’s right. It’s to make certain that you understand you’re getting involved in a full-contact sport and this prevents you from coming back and holding the school responsible when you’re injured later.”

 

For the first time we learn that Kerry signed a release form when he joined the racing team.  We didn’t see it happened because–well, he was pretty much told “You’re on the team” and they likely sent him the release form via an email.

I not only signed a release form with my team, I had to sign one with York when they became our sister league.  And were I to skate with another league, I’d need to sign a release with them.  I even recently signed a release with another body–more on that later.

NSO: that stands for Non-skating Official.  They are the time keepers, the penalty box watchers, the wardens of the scoreboard.  Like refs. if we don’t have NSOs, we don’t play. We’re not just a bunch of crazy bitches who beat on each other while wearing skates: we are, for want of a different word, professional. And our organizing body sees to it we do things right.

But what about “hitting bitches”? That’s a term we use pretty freely: at my recruitment night one of my friends already on the team told me, “And we get to hit bitches, too.” So we got that going for us.  You, and Annie, will hear that term get used again.  What Annie doesn’t know yet is you’re also one of those bitches who gets hit–

And that last line: “–when you’re injured later.” We don’t say “If I get hurt”: we usually say, “When I get hurt.” Nearly all the people I play with have had something happen to them.  Since I joined my league 13 months ago I’ve seen, on my team, a broken ankle, a broken wrist, a broken leg, twisted knees, torn ligaments in the ankle, and a couple of concussions. I’ve already mentioned that I broke two ribs and I’m certain one of my teammates has broken a couple of ribs as well.

This is why you sign a release, Annie.

 

“I see.” Annie tried not to change her expression when the woman said “when” instead of “if”—she apparently knows more than me on this subject. “After we sign these—”

The woman pointed to another woman about six meters to Annie’s left, a tall blond also wearing a tank top. “You hand them to Princess there and she’ll get you set up with gear.” She turned to Kerry. “You won’t be gearing up; she’ll direct you over to where the NSOs are gonna watch and observe.”

Annie acknowledged the woman’s comments and wandered off a few meters to read the release. After seeing that it indicated that she was becoming involved in a contact sport that could lead to injury and that neither the school or JRDA—a word, more likely an acronym, that meant nothing to her—could be held responsible for said injuries, she used her index finger to sign the form and affixed her thumbprint for additional authentication.

Kerry approached her just as she finished up. “It’s pretty much like the one I had to sign for racing.”

“I vaguely now remembering you mentioning this.” She pointed in the direction of the tall blond. “We need to leave these with her.”

They made their way to the tall blond: Annie instantly noticed she had several rings in the midpoint of both ears. She looked up as they handed her the release tablet. “Oh, done, are we?” Her voice carried a slight accent that Annie thought might be Spanish. “Okay, then. You—” She pointed at Kerry then to a group of about six people, mostly boys, standing near where the breakfast buffet tables were usually found. “—go over then with the rest on the NSOs. After Angry talks a little you’ll go through instruction with them.

“As for you—” She rested her hand on Annie’s left shoulder. “Come with me.”

There’s Annie, all signed up and ready to find her gear.  And she has it–oh, does she.  And tomorrow you’ll see it up close.

Up there I mentioned JRDA–the Junior Roller Derby Association, which handles kids 7 to 17.  They’ll have control over what happens at Salem, though they probably won’t know the whole story.

Once you hit 18 you can join WFTDA–the Woman’s Flat Track Derby Association, which is my governing body. As I mentioned in my video this last Saturday, I’ve been given the go-ahead to get insurance because, well, I’m back to hitting.  And this last Saturday afternoon, I did just that:

I haz skatin’ insurance.

 

So I not only carry insurance through the governing body, but I also signed WFTDA’s 2018 Release and Waiver of Liability, Assumption of Risk, and Indemnity Agreement, which means I can’t sue them should I go to practice tonight and, while taking a hit, mess myself up in a bad way.  That’s because I know I’m involved in a full-contact sport and there’s a certain element of danger involved when you strap on a pair of skating and throw a block at someone–or they at you.

And before anyone asks: I did fill in my derby name.  I blacked it out here so you can’t see it, but I’m looking at my WFTDA Profile right now and, yes, my derby name is there.  And when I certify I’ll let you know what it is…

Until then, try guessing Annie’s derby name.

She already has it picked out.

Back At the End: With Friends Like That–

It’s been a while since I’ve said this, but Chapter Twenty-one is finished.

Yes, it really is.

 

Now, yes: I finished Chapter Twenty-eight a couple of weeks back, so I have said this before. But I started Chapter Twenty-one a long time back and now, really now, it’s done. Complete. Fin.  And it didn’t take a lot time to finish it up.

So what happens?  Not a lot.  Just a bit of advice about spirits who may or may not have your best interests at heart:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie needed a second to absorb Deanna’s comment. “That’s possible, but—”

“But what?”

“I wouldn’t imagine The Phoenix could be that mean to one of us.”

“Not mean?” Deanna chuckled dryly. “She’s put students in the hospital because of whatever happened during their E and As.” She glanced at Kerry as if to ensure he was still asleep. “Her being mean to use is like us being mean to a microbe: I means absolutely nothing. She may find us interesting, but only in the way we may find a far lesser form of life interesting: it’s there to study, but not much beyond that.”

As interesting as Annie found the old spirit, Deanna’s words touched her considerably. As Kerry has said before, The Phoenix’s way of thinking, her motivations, her emotional responses—if she had them—were completely alien to them and they’d never be able to understand why she did some of the things she did. It’s entirely possible Deanna is correct about what The Phoenix did to Kerry—but that’s the past. So how do we handle future encounters? Ignore her? Somehow I don’t believe she’ll allow that to happen

She figured the person best to answer that question was next to her. “What should Kerry or I do if we encounter her again?”

Deanna shrugged. “Be cordial and don’t give her any attitude. She seems to respond well friendly conversation.” She looked away for a moment. “I don’t believe she’d hurt you if you’re projecting or walking in the Astral Realm, but one can never tell. The less you do to antagonize her, the better.”

“So just be her friend.”

“If that works, yes.”

Annie nodded. “I’ll do just that.” She looked down at the still sleeping Kerry. “I’ll tell him when he awakens.”

Deanna looked at him as well. “Maybe we should wake him.”

“No.” Annie ran her fingers through his soft, ginger hair. “He needs his rest.”

 

The thing we keep coming back to is that we can’t possibly know why The Phoenix does some of the shit she does, so just hang loose and try not to piss her off, ’cause she could kill you if she’s in the mood.  Isn’t she wonderful?

Now, it’s time to move on–and I knew just where I’m going…

Back At the End: About Your Friends…

Coming to you a little late today because–well, I just woke up from a nap.  I had a busy day driving around getting some food stuffs and visiting some spots.  Such as–

https://www.instagram.com/p/BkDSM5ZBHIq/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

Yeah, that’s a skate park near me and I’m considering hitting it early tomorrow with the GoPro because why not, right? Also, in a couple of weeks a meeting of Chicks in Bowls is gonna show up there and intend to put in an appearance after a four hour morning skating clinic put on by Satan’s Little Helper.  Yeah, you heard that right.

Wait for video: it’s coming.

Now it’s Writing Time and we’re back at Memory’s End and Deanna is gonna talk a bit to Annie about making friends with spirits:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

There was something in Deanna’s tone that instantly put Annie on the defensive. “Why is that?”

The seer crossed her legs as she moved to a seated position next to her student. “We don’t know anything about her other than she’s at least thousands of years old—”

“She told Kerry and I she was one of the Seven Sisters.”

“Really.” Deanna’s eyes widened. “I happen to know that’s something she’s never admitted to Adric: as far as I know, she’s never admitted that to anyone who’s studied her. Yet the third time she speaks with you, she tells you this.” The seer leaned closer and spoke in a near whisper, as though she didn’t want to wake Kerry. “Did you ever wonder why she told you?”

Annie thought for a few seconds before shaking her head. “No. I never considered it beyond—”

“Her being nice to you?”

“Yes.”

 

Back during the actual Walk In the Astral Realm, Ol’ Phee confirmed that, yes, she was one of the famous Seven Sisters, seven powerful spirits found in various parts of the world.  Now we learn that Adric–the school’s expert and instructor on all things spirit–has never been told that fact, nor would it seem has anyone else.  As far as Deanna knows, this is the first time it’s been confirmed, which makes it an important piece of information.

And yet, Phee dropped that tidbit like she was talking about the weather.  To a couple of kids.

This is where you get into wondering why an old spirit would do such a thing.  And Deanna has an answer for that–and more…

 

Deanna shrugged. “It’s easy enough to do when she acts like she’s being nice—but is she? I think Kerry stated once that we can never really know why The Phoenix does the things she does because she’s… alien. She’s not human: not even closely related to us. She’s a different form of intelligent live that happens to share the planet with us.”

“I know that, but…” Annie knew she shouldn’t consider The Phoenix anything even close to a friend, but at the same time their conversation has been polite—up until the end. “Look at what she did for Kerry last year—for me as well. She unlocked his E and A so he wouldn’t go insane. She didn’t have to do that.”

“I agree. However—” Deanna leaned closer. “Did you ever consider the possibility that she allowed Kerry to get to the point where he almost went insane because she wanted to see what he, and those around him, would react?”

Annie grew visibly shocked. “No, I hadn’t.”

“Look at what she did. Kerry told us that during his E and A she turned him into a girl because she knew his mother always wanted one, so she gave him a way to reconcile with his mother. The only way she could have known that was to go through this thoughts.” Deanna paused for a moment as she gathered her thoughts. “If she knew that about his family life, it’s quite likely she was aware of his Bigender Gift, which means she’d know at some point during school he would begin having dreams as he approached recognizing his gift existed.

“While The Phoenix can say that she found Kerry’s transition interesting, keep in mind Kaity Caspersen and Lucyna Gorczynski were students then they each had their involuntary transitions. The only difference between them and Kerry is that we knew Kerry’s was coming and he didn’t hide it from us.” She gave Annie that warning look again. “She’s seen it happen before, so it’s likely she knew what Kerry was going through and she probably knew that keeping his E and A locked up would prevent him from reaching the last moment in his dreams where he accepted the gift.” She sat up and sighed. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say The Phoenix wanted to see how far Kerry could hold out before the mental strain became too great, as well as seeing what steps we’d take to help him acknowledge what was happening to him.”

 

For the first time the seeds of distrust are being sown and Deanna is making certain that Annie knows that The Phoenix is something so different from us that we don’t really know her.  Sure, she’s curious about Kerry’s change, but she saw the change happen in two other students–both mentioned in the last novel–with the main difference being no one else knew what had happened to them.  No one human, that is.

I should finished this up tomorrow, which means you may get a double post.  Or not.

One may never know my reasons for things, either…

Back In the End: Waking Up

After a lot of writing over the past few days I decided to take it easy and write just short of four hundred words.  Why?  Well, I’m a little tired.  See, last night was practice night and, for the first time in just about two months, I got to work out with the vets–

And I got my ass kicked.

I don’t mean like they literally hauled me off to a corner and started curbstomping me, but rather I was back to doing stuff I was doing last February, March, and April, before I got tossed in Derby Jail, and after two months of inactivity from what’s basically a lot of cardio, there were times when I felt like I was about to pass out.

I did 28 laps during pyramid sprints (you’re with a partner and while one of you skates, the other does squats and planks and other strength things), then five minutes of foot work. Then I skated a 27/5 and when that was over, we went back to doing about 10 minutes of foot work. Then we got into a pace line with about 15 people and did waterfalls.  This is simple: the person at the back of the pack skates on the outside of the pack to the front and as soon as they pass the person in front of them, they get in line and follow, and so forth and on. We did that like five times, so you get this continuous motion of the pack moving in the center of the track, while people on the outside line are moving around them.

Then, still in waterfalls, we did toe stops on the inside line–which is to say, starting with the front of the pack, someone drops out every 10 feet and does a 180 transition toe stop.  And just like with the ‘falls above, as soon as the person on your right gets back in the pack and goes past you, you follow.  We did that 5 times.  We also did the same kind of stops on the outside line 5 times.

I have to say I love this drill.  When you’re doing them right and you’re moving along at a quick pace, it’s a lovely thing to see.  And the more people in the pace line, the better.

Then we got into blocker/jammer drills and this is where I really had to draw on what little reserves of energy I had.  We were doing bridging drills, which is to say four blockers run a jammer back fifty feet from where “the pack” should be, which is a totally legal move designed to wear out the jammer, who, if knocked out of bounds, has to come in behind a blocker least she get a penalty, and then continue skating in the correct direction on the track.  (This is to prevent the jammer, who scores points, from gaining an advantage on anyone who she may not have passed for points.  If she doesn’t come in behind the person who hit her out, she gets a cut track penalty and has to go to the penalty box.)

So, we have four blockers on the track and one jammer who gets run back.  Everyone got to play each of the five positions.

Including me.

Being a jammer is a whole lot of cardio.  You’re skating hard, you’re jumping around on your toe stops–oh, and you’re getting hit as well.  Some people love being a jammers, but there are a lot of former jammers who’ll tell you they don’t miss it.

So, blocking wasn’t that big of a deal, though I was rusty as hell.  And tired.  So I hung in as best I could.

But when I was jamming?  Oh, shit.  A couple of times I got light headed and had to stop and reset because I thought I was gonna pass out.  Two months ago I’ve had kept going, but this is now and my endurance is down.  I got hit out; I got knocked down. I was winded and I did my best, but there’s a whole lot of room for improvement.

Then we did the same drill again, only this time we had to bridge the jammer forward as well, which means more skating hard, more getting hit, more–in my case–feeling tired.  But I’m getting there.

Then we finished out doing a lot of strength moves.  When I got home all my gear and clothing was soaked with sweat. At one point the tape I use to keep my left wrist guard on got so wet it wouldn’t stick any longer.  I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to move real well and I was right.

But… it was a lot of fun.  I missed that shit. And I hope to do some more next week.

Now, on to writing.

So Annie pretty much got bum rushed outta the Astral Realm, which means there’s only one place her essence could go.  And we’ll head there…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie drew a sharp breath as she became instantly awake after snapping back into her body. She didn’t make a sound as being forced out of a astral projection was much like a big snap, the sensation she’d experienced when her homunculus was killed why she was puppettering.

She was awake for only few seconds when the light came on at a low level and Deanna knelt by her side. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine.” Annie started to sit up and winced due to some pain in her lower back. “That hurt more than I thought it might.”

“What happened?”

“I encountered The Phoenix. We chatted for a bit and then she—” Annie mimicked her finger-flicking motion. “Sent me back into my body.”

“Sounds like something she’d do.” Deanna sat on the floor next to Annie. “How was your projection, besides that?”

“I was good. I felt like I had control the entire time.” Annie looked to her right where Kerry still lay, eyes closed. “I didn’t see Kerry.”

“He fell asleep.” Deanna chuckled. “I don’t believe that was his intention, however.”

Annie grinned. “He was probably more tired than he’d thought.”

“Perhaps.” Deanna’s tone softened. “How was your visit with The Phoenix?”

It was impossible for Annie not to hear the concerned in her instructor’s voice. “You suspected she’d show, didn’t you?”

“She did when we went Astral Walking, so why wouldn’t I expect her to show up now?” Deanna looked at Annie carefully. “My question still stands.”

Annie knew she’d not avoid this discussion so she spoke. “She seemed interested that I was there. She took me to the edge of the outer walls and talked about what’s outside. I saw a wendigo; she gave some explanation on The Curtain. Not much more beyond that.” She considered adding one more detail and did. “She came to me looking like Kerry’s female self.”

“Oh.” Deanna seemed surprised. “Did she give a reason why?”

“She didn’t say. I assumed she was just trying to be slightly annoying.” Annie glanced over at Kerry for just a moment. “She said she was curious about Kerry’s transition and told me she watched us.” She looked back at Deanna. “I gathered from the conversation she’s been watching us awhile.”

Deanna gave one quick, curt shrug. “I’m not sure that’s a good thing.”

 

I stopped here because I know what Deanna wants to see about attracting the attention of way old spirits who like to fuck with you, and I knew it might take more than a few hundred words to get it down, so I’ll bring it to you tomorrow.  You can guarantee that–

On the Astral Winds: Easing Between Worlds

Here we are, the day after I reach one million words, and more words are coming.  In fact, I finish this scene today, needing six hundred and sixty-five to make me feel good–though I want to add one more just because.  In looking at the scene stats, this scene ran almost three thousand words, almost three times more than the scene before. Something tells me I may be back to writing now.

Last night was another Recruitment Night and had some enthusiastic women come out to see if they wanted to get involved in this insanity that has become a part of my life.  Most of the group did a wave and in the process I caught a new freshie’s hand right in the face, which is why I’m all blurry.

Such a small price to pay for so much fun.

 

Now, let’s get into the writing, shall we?

We shall.

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

There was a thought at the back of Annie’s mind that had her asking another question. “I remember reading that Vivian Lovecraft and Selena Malthus fought a wendigo in Selena’s Meadow.”

The Phoenix turned her way. “That’s true. That happened thirty-eight years before Lovecraft died, seventy-five years before Malthus joined her.”

“Well, if the wendigo is a creature of the Astral Realm—”

“How did it get into the Physical Realm?”

“Exactly.”

 

Hummm, seems like Phee is pretty exact on those dates and there’s a reason for that: I have time lines!  You knew that was the answer, admit it.

In fact I’ve had this information in place for some time–like, six years or more–and Aeon Timeline does a great job of allowing me to track it all.  Here’s a screen shot of the over-all history:

 

And this shows a little detail.  As you can see this happened twice about six weeks apart, and the first time Selena was out by her lonesome and had to battle the creature, which nearly killed her.  As it was, killing the windigo nearly costs both Selena and Vivian their lives, but they managed to end it before it ended them.

 

And something interesting here: the school was only officially three years old at the time this happened.  Before this happened the Five Founders had sore of an unofficial thing going down, maybe for a year, before they decided to make Salem a thing.  Such are the things you learn.

And speaking of learning, what’s up with stuff walking from one realm to another?  There’s a simple answer:

 

“The Curtain isn’t uniform. Some parts are thicker, some thinner.” The Phoenix nodded over her right shoulder. “And there are some parts of The Curtain where it’s so thin that under the right conditions, entities that exist in one realm can find their way to another.” She gave Annie a second or two to take in this new information before continuing. “Did you ever wonder why flight training is held in Selena’s Meadow?”

Annie nearly said it was due to it being a large, open space, but she knew this was a trick question. “There’s another reason, I’m certain.”

“You’re correct. The Curtain is extremely thin in the Meadow. This makes crafting exceptionally easy because your life line is not just siphoning off mystical energy from the Astral Realm, it’s literally draining all the energy it can handle. Back when flying a broom meant enchanting a real broom and putting a witch in control, the thinness there made flying a lot easier than anywhere else in the area.” The Phoenix quickly tilted her head to the right and back. “Of course, that also meant that, from time-to-time, things on this side of The Curtain found their way into the Meadow, and that caused some problems now and then.”

“Like having to fight a wendigo.”

“Yep. It also meant that witches could sometimes find a ‘hole’ in The Curtain and accidentally find themselves taking a walk in the Astral Realm.” She saw Annie was about to ask another question and halted her. “If you going to ask if a thin Curtain is responsible for unexplained disappearances around the world, you don’t need to ask. There are places all over the world where The Curtain is thin enough that even Normal have gone through when conditions are perfect.”

 

Now you know. This is one of the reasons you’ll hear of “Places of Power” where strange things seem to happen.  It’s also why, in my world, witches have an easier time crafting spells in some places over others. The Curtain isn’t the same all over the world and once in a while, it’s thin enough to let things through.  Which brings up another question:

 

While her question was answered, Annie found it leading to another. “Why doesn’t that still happen in the Meadow today?”

“It’s possible to put up wards that prevent accidental passage; it’s one of the reason students are suddenly flying into the Astral Realm while learning to pilot their brooms. And since the Meadow is now enclosed by the outer walls, that keeps all the larger, more dangerous entities on their side of The Curtain.”

“One last thing: is a thin Curtain the reason ghosts are seen in certain places around the world?”

The Phoenix nodded with pride. “I knew you’d figure it out. Yes, sometimes a person’s essence gets stuck in a certain location and it doesn’t want to leave. It usually happens where there’s a still considerable pull from the Physical Realm, so the essence remains in the area. And when the conditions are right—”

“The essence is seen in the Physical Realm as a ghost.”

“Got it in one.”

 

Now you have the reason why ghosts are seen in some places.  They are real and they just trip on over to this side from time-to-time and say “Hey” and scare the shit out of Normals.

Annie has learned a lot.  But it comes with a warning:

 

Annie felt like her head was about to spin from all that she just learned. “It’s so incredible.”

“It is.” The Phoenix’s tone shifted from friendly to serious. “But you need to remember, Annie: there’s things out here that can kill you—and no matter how good you think you are now, you’re not that good. You need to get in a bit more practice in a safe space before you venture out here again.”

Annie nodded. “I know, but—”

The Phoenix shook her head. “That’s it for today. Now—” She raised her left hand. “Drizzle, drazzle, drozzle, drome; time for this one to come home.” She flicked her fingers at Annie—

—And she was flung backwards at high speed, zooming over the school grounds and back into Memory’s End—

 

That last line from Phee is something Kerry would instantly know, mostly because of its connection to The Matrix. True story, bruh.

There we are.  Annie’s projection in the Astral Realm is likely at an end.  Which means it’s probably time to wrap up–

One Million

Today I’ve been writing my little fingers off and, for the first time in a while, managed over a thousand words in a single sitting.  We got Annie and Phee still in the Astral Realm, talking about walls and buildings and stuff, and we finally learn a bit about how magical stuff in the Physical Realm is built, because–well, you’ll see.

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“Exactly.” The Phoenix appeared pleased by the answer. “It’s the one thing that a witch could strengthen Natural material and make it nearly impervious to others of their kind.” She grinned as she along the length of the wall before them. “It took your Foundation a while to get that message and construct them correctly.”
While Annie was currently learning a little of the history of Salem, she suspected The Phoenix had a tale that wouldn’t be found in their history books. “What happened?”

“The former tenants of this school told the new Foundation reps that unless the walls were constructed a certain way, all manors of magical folk and supernatural denizens would find their way on to the grounds. So when this northern section was under construction—” She spread her arms wide to signify the construction before them. “—the witches would wait until a segment between towers was completed and use magic to blast holes through segment.” She shrugged. “After a few weeks of having to repair damaged segments of wall, The Foundation got the message and began putting up the walls they way they were constructed in the past.”
Annie laughed. “I can’t believe they were so ignorant.”

“Well, keep in mind this was around the time The Foundation was just getting into all things magical and everything was a new experience for them. Also, at the point in time ninety percent of The Foundation membership was male, while nearly all the known witches of the time were female. Let’s just say when The Foundation was in charge of putting up these walls, there was a whole lot of the Ninetieth Century version of mansplaining going on.” She chuckled again, something low and almost sinister emanating from what would have been her throat were she human. “You should have seen their reaction when they were told I was part of the deal when it came to buying the school. Not. Happy. At. All.”

 

At least we know The Phoenix is up on all the new slang, but given that she watches humans rather closely, it shouldn’t be all that surprising.  This is the first time we’ve seen that the male-run Foundation wasn’t always having the best of time with all the female witches, and we’ll learn, over time, that this lead to a lot of bad feelings–lots of them.

And we also learn–more or less–that while The Foundation wanted the School of Salem, they didn’t want to self-professed Benefactor and Protector of the school staying around.  It would be interesting to find out if they tried something stupid like, oh, I don’t know, tried to get rid of her–and how fucking disastrous their efforts were.  I’m certain the truth will come out in time.

Now that Annie knows how the walls were built, she’ll want to move on to the next obvious question:

 

Such were the Phoenix’s infliction that Annie heard the periods behind every word. She wanted to ask her what exactly happened that forced The Foundation to accept her as the “person” that decides who came to Salem and into which coven they’d live, but she was fairly certain she wouldn’t get an answer should she ask.

She elected to ask something different. “So, what is out beyond the walls? I know there are…” Annie wasn’t certain what word to use next and went with the simplest one. “…things out there—”

The Phoenix’s right eyebrow arched in a rather perfect imitation of Kerry doing the same thing. “Things like me?”

“I suppose I should have said, ‘Creatures like you’.”

“It’s all right. It’s not like you can hurt my feelings. Besides, your concept of what you think I am as opposed to what I really am—well, it’s quite amusing.” She twirled her left index finger. “But please: do go on.”

Annie drew a deep breath out of habit, as she was aware she wasn’t breathing. “What lives in the Astral Realm that could harm us?”

The Phoenix said nothing for five second then pointed to the northeast, in the direction of where Halibut Point State Park existed in the Physical Realm. “There. Just to the right of the tower. Try and magnify your vision if possible.” She half turned her head. “Act like you’re

It took Annie a few seconds to get her eyes to actually act like a telephoto lens, something she’d learned from Kerry just a few weeks before, but she figured it out quickly and located the object The Phoenix wanted her to see. A gaunt humanoid-like entity with a wide set of antlers and perhaps half the height of the eighteen meter tall observation tower moved slowly towards the southeast, in the direction Andrews Point and the northern-most section of Pigeon Cove. Every few seconds it would turn its head and look in their direction; Annie sensed it not only knew of their existence, but knew better than to approach. “What is it?”

 

It can be a little nerve wracking to be standing next to an entity that can kill you just by looking at you, and one may think calling it a “thing” is the sort of stuff that’ll get you whacked.  Fortunately for her Phee cuts some humans a little slack and doesn’t take offence.  But know you, she isn’t the only thing out here and she’s gonna tell Annie about one of those things–

 

“That is a wendigo.” The Phoenix cleared her throat. “It’s an accumulation of astral energy that’s achieved a form of sentience. It’s also a nasty piece of work, as the astral energy its accumulated often comes from sources that are—shall we say corrupted?”

Annie was intrigued by this last statement. “How does astral energy become corrupted?”

“Astral energy is a component of all things found in the Physical Realm and we know there are areas in your world that epitomize the essence of corruption. Scenes of mass murder, genocide, butchery, battle fields—all of those achieve a certain corruption over time and that corruption can find its way into the Astral Realm.” She shrugged. “Ergo, corrupted astral energy.” She stared off towards the creature. “You know about Danvers Asylum, don’t you?”

“I’m in love with Kerry.” Annie chuckled. “Of course I’ve heard of Danvers Asylum.”

“Then you know for a long time it was one hell of a snake pit. People died there not only out of neglect, but some where—helped along from time-to-time.”

“You mean murdered.”

“Yeah, whatever.” The Phoenix offered her best smirk. “That place is still surrounded by corrupted astral energy, which acts like a tar pit for the essence of those who’ve died there. I’ve had to go in there on more than a few occasions and pull a few out so they could reach their Portal through The Veil.”

 

Now you know: Astral Energy can become corrupted.  Gather enough of it together and sometimes it starts thinking on it’s own.  And that corruption comes from us, from the Physical Realm, and if you know the history of Danvers Asylum–and you should since I’ve written about it before–then you know there’s likely a ton of corruption there, just as The Phoenix points out.  And you shouldn’t have a problem figuring out where to find this shit.

Now just one last thing–

 

Annie knew what The Phoenix meant, so it wasn’t necessary to ask questions. When a person died their astral essence—what some often called a soul—was drawn to the edge of The Veil, which was the membrane between this universe and the space between The Multiverses. There they would find their Portal, the opening to the empty Space Between. Witches didn’t fear dead as did a lot of Normals, as they knew their essence carried all that they once were when alive, and that essence lived on for thousands of years in the Space Between, sometimes longer.

As for those essences that couldn’t make it to their Portals, those that became trapped in the Astral Realm for some reason…

 

And I’ll finish off Annie’s thought tomorrow.

Now, something is happening here.  You may not see anything out of the ordinary at the moment, but keep reading–

Because this is a special excerpt.

Oh, so special.

 

You may not be able to see what’s written in the lower left hand corner, so I’ll show it to you:

 

“Annie knew what The Phoenix meant—” The word “what” is the one millionth word written in the series.

 

One. Million. Words.  Now you know what the title means.

And in case you want a breakdown of the counts:

 

A For Advanced:  425,031 Words

B For Bewitching:  331,350 Words

C For Continuing:  243,728 Words and counting.

Total:  1,000,109 Words

 

Yep, I’m now like George R. R. Martin, only without the fame and money and a far lower body count in my novels.  Of course I could use the money and maybe one day that’ll happen.  For now I’m happy just to write again.

Yeah, all the way back on 1 November, 2013, I started with this paragraph:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Though many of the surrounding mountains reflected the bright morning sunshine, there were still valleys that remained untouched. Within the hour, however, every valley in and around the resort of Pamporovo, Bulgaria, would lay bathed in light, but for now most remained enveloped within quiet shadows.

 

And now I’m back to getting the story told on this kids.  And it makes sense that since the book started with Annie, a million words later her astral version is thinking about matters of death.  A million words to get not even half way through the telling of their third year at Salem, which means–what? Another million words are coming? Maybe.  Probably.

Yeah, if I get around to it–

On the Astral Winds: Building the Magical

Did I not promise another excerpt today?  Of course I did!  And I delivered.  But first–derby!

Yesterday was my first team bout since April and I was–well, I was nervous.  Which means I needed to take an anti-anxiety med about ninety minutes before leaving.  I also brought along my computer so I could listen to music over my Bluetooth earphones, and that helped me focus a lot on just getting things down on video.

In case you wonder what I looked like when I’m filming, here’s a few pictures.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bj29OE4h2t0/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

Yes, I’m up on a podium and I have my GoPro on a selfie stick in my left hand, my video camera is on my right and my digital camera is on my left.  What you don’t see is my mobile phone, which is taking this picture.  But wait!  You can see it here:

 

I took this with my GoPro using a voice command to trigger the camera.  You can see my computer sitting in my chair and behind that is my third tripod with my mobile phone adapter.  Yes, they make these for phones, which means I can set the timer and get a great picture every time.

And another of me:

 

Again with the selfie stick, this is how I look throughout most of the bout, with my eyes stuck to the viewfinder as I follow the teams around the track.  If you look closely, you’ll see my blue earbuds are in place and I do believe I had the music streaming from one of my YouTube playlists as I took this photo.

And how did HARD do?  Well…

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bj3OXlHBplW/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

We Won!  The second consecutive win, which makes us 2-1 for the season so far.  I managed that photo above with my mobile phone, so I was able to post the picture right away to the Facebook, because I’m all about social media.

Now with that out of the way…

Yep, back to the Astral Realm, where a certain school spirit asked a question of a certain girl from Bulgaria. Do you want to know what she said?  Sure you do.

 

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie found her heart softening towards the ancient created. She’s probably seen this part of the world evolve over many millennium—and yet, she found Kerry’s transition fascinating. That says quite a lot about her. “No, I can’t hold it against you. It’s just—” She looked down as she chuckled. “You can be quite annoying at times; you know that, don’t you?”

“But if I wasn’t annoying I wouldn’t be charming.” The Phoenix laughed. “Enough about me: what are your plans here, Ms. Kirilova?”

“I haven’t actually given it much thought.” Annie spun around in mid-air, noticing that her lifeline twisted around her form before sliding through her waist so it was once more sticking straight out of her lower back. “I figured I’d look around.”

The Phoenix rolled her eyes. “Well, if you’re gonna look around—” She reached out and took Annie’s hand. “Why not let someone who knows her way around show you the sights.”

Before Annie could say anything The Phoenix took off a high speed towards the east wall, pulling her along. Even though Annie knew there wasn’t any physical connection between them, she knew she’d never free herself from the spirit’s grasp, as the elemental knew so much more about the rules of the realm. Annie could struggle all she’d like to free herself and it would be of avail.

They came to a stop just a couple of meters short of the wall and about twenty meters sound of Polar Portal, the northeastern most wall tower and the only exit through the wall in the north. Few students ever left the school on foot through Polar Portal these days as it was a little over a kilometer to the ocean and few people wanted to walk that distance, particularly when they might have to go through the yards of local residents.

Annie had traversed the portal once with Kerry, in mid-October during their B Levels, the weekend before he was moved up to the Coven’s racing A Team. They flew up to the portal on Kerry’s broom and then walked about a hundred and fifty meters to an old, seldom-used dirt road that traversed the north end of Cape Ann. They walked west toward Bay State Quarry and the outskirts of Lanesville before slipping back into the woods and flying back into the confines of the school walls. Though they weren’t gone long, Annie remembered the walk because so little was said—it was her love and her walking hand-in-hand, enjoying each other within the silence.

She peered through the shifting curtain of the defense screens, seeing the world outside the walls was much the same as inside, though it didn’t seem as bright. “Does everything appear slightly duller because we’re looking through the screens, or—?”

“No. It’s the way of what you call the Normal World.” The Phoenix stared at the screen for a moment and a large section, twelve by twelve meters, grew in lightness, making the outside view clearer. “While everything has a presence in the Astral Realm, little of it is imbued with the same energy as that which has been touched by what you call the Aware. You’re attached far more naturally to this realm, which is why you can do magic. It only follows that all that you touch, all that you build, is also touched by the same energies. That’s why—” She turned slightly to her right and motioned towards the main school to the south. “Everything inside these walls appears so much brighter.”

Annie looked lower, focusing on the outer walls. “Then why are they so dark?”

The Phoenix paused for a moment before speaking. “Think about what you’d need to keep out all that wants to hurt you.”

“Of course.” Annie turned to her right. “Dark Energy. They were likely constructed using as much as witches could channel.”

“Exactly.”

 

If one were to look at things in a certain fashion–and I am one of those people–one could say that The Phoenix is trying to teach something to Annie. Of course I’m not going to say if that’s really the case, but every time either of these kids run into ol’ Phee, it’s like she’s trying to impart some kind of lesson upon them.  That lesson could be, “Never trust a fucking thing I tell you,” but so far that hasn’t happened.

Is there more tomorrow?

Why not?  This is becoming a habit, you know…

On the Astral Winds: Not So Chance Meeting

Holy Jeez, as Kerry may have said at one time, it’s a real post!  Even one with–shall I say it? One with an excerpt.  Yep.  I got out today and did some writing. But first, how I got here–

As you may, or may not, know from yesterday’s video, I was out skating in the morning. That meant I did some editing and uploaded the video to my YouTube account. I found out after shooting this video that I was slightly short as fat as skating the whole length of a WFTDA track, so when I got out at some point this week, I’ll make adjustments.  But here I am skating 12 laps with some commentary following.  Form could be a lot better, but keep in mind I was doing this a little after seven in the morning yesterday.

 

After this I got something to eat and then drove down to Lancaster–or as they say here, “Lan-kes-ter”–to watch Dutchland Roller Derby play a double header.  Naturally I had to post this info to social media:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bj0b37fBYGt/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

And today I’m down to Little Amps, where I usually enjoy Sunday morning coffee, and got caffeinated before getting into the writing:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bj2Hgong5Jg/?taken-by=cassidyfrazee

 

It’s also Bout Day for me and it’s my first home bout in two months.  Already the anxiety is hitting, so the chances are good I’m gonna need to take a pill about an hour before showing up to film. It shouldn’t affect me, but hey, shit happens, right?  Don’t worry, I’ll be all right.

So, novel…

Yeah, I started on the next scene of Chapter Twenty-one and not only is Annie astral projecting, but he’s off the leash and outta the building.  That means she’s floating around in the astral winds, seeing this real as it truly appears:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie was through the wall of Memory’s End and into the astral skies much like she’d done when Astral Walking, only her nakedness and the presence of the light tug at the small of her back told her this was a far different experience. For some reasons all actions seemed easier; everything felt more fluid. She didn’t required a lot of reflection on the matter: now she was a being of astral energy and as such all her actions were conducted by the rules of this realm.

She cut sharply to the left then gained about a hundred meters of altitude in but a few seconds. She stopped and looked at the school as it truly appeared in this world—

The trees were a shimmering dark green, thick and mostly unbroken. The outer walls were as dark and bright as obsidian glass. All the buildings seemed made of molten gold, each surrounded by a halo of pink and yellow energy.

Above the walls the air appeared to Annie as a dome of shifting grays, blues, and red, varying in brightness for only a few seconds at multiple locations. She realized this must be the outer defense screen that surrounded the school at all times and the bright flashes she witnessed was the result of something coming in contact with the screen, either here within the school walls, or on the outside.

She released a long sigh. “It’s magnificent.”

 

Yeah, for sure it’s beautiful out here.  But you know, if you’re floating about in the astral winds of the School of Salem, chances are good you’re not gonna float alone…

 

“Isn’t it, though.”

Annie spun around slowly. She recognized the voice, but she realized there wasn’t any way the actual person connected to that voice was astral projecting. A since glance confirmed her suspicion. “Checking up on me, Phoenix?”

The Phoenix—who looked exactly as she had when she mimicked Kerry’s female form when they were Astral Walking—mocked a hurt expression. “What gave it away?”

 

You know this bitch is gonna show up for something like this and just like in A For Advanced and B For Bewitching The Phoenix is appearing two different scenes.  But I’ll let you in on a secret: she’s gonna get a third scene in this book, though it’s not happening again until late in the Act Three.  I know she’ll make an appearance in every novel, but I can’t remember right now when and where she’s appearing in the next novel.  But trust me: she’ll be there.

But what about now, Cassidy?  Yeah, about that:

 

“Kerry’s in his normal form at the moment, so I can’t imagine him astral projecting as his female form. Also—” She cocked her head slightly to the right. “You don’t have a lifeline. Nor are you naked.”

“Damn.” The Phoenix chuckled. “You’re right: I don’t need a lifeline. As for being naked—”

“Please don’t.” Annie held up her hand. “I don’t need to see that.”

“At least not yet. Am I right?”

Annie floated closer to the ancient spirit. “What I have seen of Kerry, both dressed and undressed, is none of your concern. As for seeing his female form naked—” Her eyes narrowed. “I’ve seen her that way, which I’m sure you know.”

“Oh, yes.” The Phoenix appeared to think for a few seconds. “That’s right. You wanted to make sure she saw herself in the altogether.” She gave Annie a knowing look. “Your aura really reflected your true feelings then; would you like to know—?”

“So you were watching.” Annie had always suspected that The Phoenix not only watched over the school, but observed the actions of certain students from time-to-time. At the time of Kerry’s involuntary transition, she was convinced The Phoenix was watching their every action, if for no other reason than to see how they both handled the situation. I should ask if she watched us when we went to dinner in Salem that night, but I’d rather not know if she’s spying on us even there…

The Phoenix shrugged. “What can I say? It’s not like I’ve had a lot of opportunities to witness something like what happened to Kerry happen. You know?” She gave a little smile. “Believe it or not, there are some events even creatures like me find incredible—and what happened to her that day was one of them. Are you gonna hold it against me for being curious?”

 

Now we get some insight into what Ol’ Phee gets up to when she’s got time on her hand. As suspected, she does check in on individual students now and then and during Kerry’s transition she watch both Annie and her. She saw the moment when Kerry undressed in front of Annie while they were in ICU and she, as well as Annie, saw what Kerry looked like as a girl–saw it all.  And not only was Phee watching, but she spied on the kid’s auras, so she know pretty much what Annie felt at that moment when she got to see Kerry in a complete state of undress.  What did Phee see?  I know, but I’m not tellin’.

Now, does the excerpt today mean there’ll be an excerpt tomorrow.  Yes, there will.  I promise.  And you can yell at me if I don’t deliver.