On Beyond the Curtain: Taking Over

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

It’s what I do, right?  Sure it is.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

On Beyond the Curtain: A Visitor Calls

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

“I’ve felt that a couple of times.”

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

And now we have all the players here.

All that remains is to see where they go.

On Beyond the Curtain: Behold the Ghostly Hall

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

 

First, dinner.  Stuffed quail on a lemon risotto.

Dinner is here!

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And home-made strawberry shortcake.

Be jelly.

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

Birthday dinner, yay!

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

Getting ready to watch "Your Name" last night.

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

 

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

 

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

“Yes.”

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

“But what is it?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

On Beyond the Curtain: Getting Into the Open

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

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

I now know the real name of The Phoenix.

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

But it won’t happen tomorrow.  Believe that.

On Beyond the Curtain: Getting An Understanding

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

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

This is the fist time I've worn a full Dia ensemble that wasn't a dress to work. #BossLady #diaandco

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Once you know how to craft the spell.”

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

 

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

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

On Beyond the Curtain: Lay of the Land

Blessed Beltane, Happy International Workers Day, Have a Great Mayday:  all are valid today.  As such I stopped along the way to snap a picture from the cloudy, cool steps of the Capitol Building, much like I did last year–

Blessed Beltane from The Warzone (aka The Burg).

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Oh, it’s also the first day of MerMay, something stared by artist and animator Tom Bancroft, where people are encouraged to draw a mermaid picture every day in May.  I was told that since I’m not an artist I should write a little each day concerning the activities of a mermaid of my own creation.  We’ll see what happens tonight.

Now that real life is out of the way…

Today is the first day my kids physically travel beyond The Curtain and it’s nothing like what they’ve seen before.  And since I don’t want to keep people in suspense, let’s go!

 

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

 

There was no direct light source: it seemed as if everywhere within the Astral Realm existed within a perpetual state of Magic Hour. It was bright enough here to see everything clearly, yet the lack of shadows told Annie that anyone standing within this place would instantly know they were no longer within the Normal world.

And if one needed for the reminding, they needed to only look around at the colorful landscape.

This sky was a combination of glowing fluorescent and shimmering iridescent colors that seem to be moving at all times. To Annie’s eyes the sky appeared in constant movement, with colors swirling and merging with each other, creating complex, intricate patterns. She stood watching the same section of sky for nearly a minute and Annie was certain she never saw the same pattern repeat.

She examined the space around them. They were still standing inside the classroom, but the walls had taken on a ghostly translucence, making it possible to see through them into the other parts of Memory’s End. Annie looked down at her feet and saw the ground floor classroom below, picking out the doors and the pillows as well. It was then that it struck her: in order to see the sky, she was looking through the outer walls of Memory’s End to the world beyond.

Kerry, who stood alongside, appeared outlined by a brilliant sheath of color. Annie immediately realized she was seeing his aura, which had to be visible in this realm. She raised her right arm and saw the same ghostly outline of color surround it, her hand, and each of her fingers and thumb. But when she looked at Deanna she saw something completely different: while she could see her aura, it was far fainter, almost ghostly in appearance. And Deanna was no longer wearing the jeans and tee shirt she had on when she greeted him: instead she appeared to be wearing some sort of softly glowing armor that covered her from neck to feet. She wore a similar, faintly glowing helmet, as well as a brightly glowing sheathed sword set on her left hip.

 

We already know what we’re seeing on Deanna, because she wore this armor in the last novel.  However, we were the only ones to see this, which means she’s gonna explain things to the kids:

 

It was only upon seeing her instructor’s outfit that Annie finally broke the silence. “Deanna, what do you have on?”

Annie’s words were enough to pull Kerry back from his gawking so he could witness Deanna’s outfit as well. He was outwardly impressed by what he saw. “Holy geez, you look like Lady Sif.”

Deanna laughed as she placed her hand on the hilt of her sword. “I have to admit that I garnered the idea from the designs of her armor.”

Annie, however, needed an answer to her question. “Why are you wearing that? What is it?”

The seer turned towards Annie. “It’s Astral Armor. The concept is similar to the Physical and Magical Shields we throw around ourselves for protection in the Physical Realm. Here, both those magics are somewhat useless: you instead need something that form fits to your body while offering the same protection.” She shrugged. “I put it on out of habit, which is why you see it now.”

Kerry pointed at her waist. “What’s with the sword?”

“This is nothing more than Astral Energy forged into a shape that allows me to use it for all offensive and defensive measures.” Deanna tapped the health as she smiled. “This is really no different that the weapons you’ve learned to create out of Mystical Energy. The concept is the same; only the crafting source is different.”

 

We’re finally learning a bit about the unseen world beyond The Curtain.  Tomorrow we get to do a bit of looking around as we learn…

Beyond the Curtain: Making It Part

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

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

Not as big yet, but we got there. @momary02

A post shared by Cassidy Frazee (@cassidyfrazee) on

See, right there.  Out doing the protest thing.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

“What’s that?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Then by all means, we should began.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The glowing circle collapsed upon itself.

The classroom was empty.

 

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

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