By the Light of the Cold Blue Fire

The chapter in the book is in the books now:  done, finished, over.  This one was actually a bit shorter than others–only eighty-five hundred words–but a lot got done, and now the Princess Buttercup is now the one girl few people in the school who’ll have people getting in her face.  And if they do–well, there’s always the Manor.

Where we pick up is around nineteen on the clock–about seven PM–and it’s pitch dark outside and cooling, with a new moon about the rise.  The kids are in Astria Portal, and their sitting in the mezzanine in their fall school jackets, because it’s getting colder, and there’s a ball of blue cold fire hovering near by–hence the title of this post.  And their snuggling like mad–what a surprise.

 

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

Normally they stopped to snuggle and kiss in the dim light of cold fire before heading to class, but tonight was special for them, for in the aftermath of Annie’s Judgment Trial victory, for Kerry had been particularly attentive. Annie figured that some of the extra affection was brought on her combat with another person; she remembered that after their recovery from their fight in Kansas City he’d been as equally attentive.

It’s not because I’m a girl and he’s a boy— Annie snuggled back into the fold of Kerry’s heavy school jacket, which they were now wearing as winter approached. It’s a natural reaction for him. It’s not because he feels I’m hurt or traumatized:  it’s because he wants me to know he loves me. “There is something I want to know—”

He tightened his hold around her shoulders. “What’s that?”

“Did you yell something during my trial? When I cast my Lightning spell?”

Kerry began chuckling. “Yeah, that was me.”

“What did you say?”

He cleared his throat. “I yelled, ‘Yatta, Lum-chan’.”

She arced an eyebrow as she twisted around to take in Kerry’s blushing face. “And what exactly does that mean?”

“Um, well . . . Yatta is Japanese; it means ‘I did it’, but it’s usually said in moments of happiness or excitement. And Lum-chan—”

“Yes?”

“She’s a character from a manga and anime. She’s a oni—that’s a demon—who can fly and has green hair—”

Annie broke into an enormous smile. “You have something for girls with green hair, it seems.”

“Um . . .” Kerry cleared his throat once more, visibly embarrassed. “She also has little horns—”

“Because she’s a demon.”

“Yeah. And she wears a, um . . . tiger-stripped bikini and matching boots.”

It was impossible to hold back the laughter. “Something you want me to wear next Samhain?”

“I wasn’t planing on that . . .” He glanced down as he recovered his composure. “There’s something else: she likes to call her boyfriend ‘Darling’.” Kerry ran his fingers through Annie’s hair as he attempted a girl’s falsetto tone. “Dar-ling.”

Annie shivered as she giggled. “Hum, that I like. Maybe I’ll have you call me that—” She half-closed her eyes as she ran the fingers of her right hand lightly down his cheek. “Darling.”

 

Of course Kerry knows Lum, because he’s Kerry, and a geek, and there’s something he must like about girls with green hair, as Annie pointed out.  She’s kind of old school for us who started getting into manga and anime back in the 1990s, when you had to hunt all over the place for imported manga and hope you could find someone on the Internet–using your copy of Netscape 2.0, mind you–who’d done a translation of the panels, because the odds weren’t in your favor that you knew Japanese.  Same with anime:  back in the day you had to buy VHS tapes from fan subbers who did know Japanese and would create subtitles for video they’d manage to get out of the Land of the Rising Sun.

But, yes:  Lum-chan, as my once Japanese girlfriend used to call her.  I mean, Annie does kinda fit the part now–

And she would probably look this pissed off, with lightning crackling around her, if she dressed like this for next year's Samhain--

And she would probably look this pissed off as well, with electricity crackling around her, if she dressed like this for next year’s Samhain.

–but that’s gonna be in another novel, so there’s no point worrying about costumes now.  What we have to wonder about is Annie’s thoughts on her judgment . . .

 

Kerry pressed his hand against hers. “I like that.”

“I do, too, my love.” She stretched out her legs and sighed. “Did it bother you that I didn’t include you in my judgment?”

“No. Your trial wasn’t about me: it was about you.” He shook his head slowly. “I had nothing to do with what happened. Beside, I don’t think Professor Chai would have allowed that.”

“I believe you’re right.” During the Formulistic Magic Class Erywin reminded Annie that Ramona was the final arbiter of judgments, and if she felt a student was asking for too much, she’d request they modify their demands—something Ramona pointed out before the trial began. “If I’d tried to include you, she likely wouldn’t have allow the judgment.”

“Yeah, well—” He kissed her forehead. “It’s over. Lisa is vanquished—”

“For now. I’m certain the spiteful little witch will find a way to make a nuisance of herself.” She tapped Kerry’s cheek. “She may turn attention upon you.”

Humph. Let her. I can call her out just as well.”

 

Kerry’s not bovvered he’ll have Lisa bothering him–does he look bovvered?  No.  And they’re both right:  Ramona wouldn’t have allowed her to include him, because she was giving Annie shit, and Kerry was trying to walk away.

Which is something else Annie has in mind–

 

Something had been nagging Annie for most of the day, since after she’s told Professor Semplen about calling out Lisa. “You didn’t want me to confront her, did you?”

He didn’t attempt to hide his feelings on the matter. “No, I didn’t. I didn’t think she was worth it.”

A cautious tone crept into Annie’s voice. “There’s something I want to say, but—”

He shrugged. “Go ahead. You can always be honest with me.”

“Well . . . You’re accustomed to having people make derogatory comments about you—” She felt her mouth dry up. “Because of what you went through in your life—with you parents.”

Kerry remained quiet for a few seconds as memories flooded back. “Not just them; there were a lot of people in school who used to make fun of me, and they’d say a lot of things that—” He leaned against Annie. “They used to talk crap.”

“And you didn’t stand up for yourself.”

He closed his eyes. “No.” His sigh carried a great deal of the dejection his memories carried. “I wasn’t strong, physically, emotionally, or mentally. I was afraid to say things because I thought I might get beat up, or something.”

“What about with your parents?”

“What would I do about them?” He snorted. “Get upset and yell? That’s about all I can do—and look how that worked out.”

She knew he was referring to the conversation he had with his parent the day he received his school travel package, and how he’d become angry and reveled that both of them were given a talk by Nurse Coraline concerning their burgeoning sexuality. Annie was aware that his parents had shook him up enough that he’d lost control over his feelings and said something he shouldn’t have told them—the end result of that confrontation was telling Ms. Rutherford that they were unhappy the meeting had occurred without either of them being notified. “That’s because your parents do not respect you, my love. When they realize how special you are—”

“They’ll continue to think I’m a strange kid.” He held one of his fingers up to Annie’s lips. “I don’t want to talk about my parents, not tonight: not after what you did today—” Kerry twisted around and kissed her passionately, enveloping Annie within his arms. When his broke the kiss he graced Annie with a slight, sweet smile. “Darling.”

 

At times Kerry can seem kinda wimpy.  He’s been mentally, emotionally, and verbally abused, and he’s just bore the anguish and keep everything bottles up, until he decides to let it out.  We saw a lot of that in the last novel with him crying.  This is why when he flips out–as he did when he thought Annie was leaving him–it’s usually not a good thing.  He knows he’s emotional, he knows it can lead to outbursts, and those outbursts usually get him into trouble.

He’s becoming far more confident these days, though, because he’s a racer and a witch and, oh yeah, his girlfriend has shown him how to kill people.  Has your significant other done that for you lately?  No?  I thought so.

So out of one chapter and into the next–

Looks just like this, I promise.

Looks just like this, I promise.

And the next chapter is Kerry-centric and starts out by taking him somewhere he’s seen but never visited until I write about it–

What are the odds he says, "Step away from your busted ass vehicle, and put your hands on your head"?  I'd say pretty good.

What are the odds he says at least once, “Step away from your busted ass vehicle and put your hands on your head”? I’d say quite good.

Dining Hall of the Lovelorn

Here I am again, kiddies, and believe me the last night and morning have been sort of NaNoish, only in the sense that I’ve been writing a lot, but I haven’t exactly been stringing all those words together at the same time.  I wrote nearly eight hundred words last night, and just a shade over a thousand this morning, and while that puts me in the, “I made my word count!” category, it means I gotta step up my game in the next couple of days if I’m gonna “win” my third consecutive NaNo.  I know what I need to do to get it done, it’s just getting it done that’s been a pain in the butt of late.

And today has been sort of an all over the place kind of writing.  The last time I spoke of my current scene I had Erywin Sladen sitting down with a somewhat feeling out of it Kerry whom, it would seem, was suffering  from Annie Seperationits.  That’s to be expected:  it’s only been a few weeks since he came to grips with his feels for her, and now she’s off on the other side of the world from him, and he’s missing her oh, so much.

In comes Erywin to the rescue, because . . . well, it’s not like Coraline is the only romantic in the house . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

A huge smile was spread across here face as she sat. “Thank you.” She slowly crossed her legs; Kerry thought this was the first time he’d ever seen her in jeans. “How are you feeling?”

He shrugged. “I’m okay.”

“Mmm, hum.” Her eyes bored hole through Kerry’s head. “She left at nine, am I right?”

“Yeah.” Kerry looked down at his untouched plate of food.

“Do you know what she’s doing now?”

Kerry answered without even thinking. “It’s almost nineteen in Pamporovo; she’s either waking up, or she’s been up for a bit. If it’s the later, she’s probably getting ready to go out to dinner with her parent.” He looked up from the plate and sat back. “It’s what she told me she was going to do.”

“Is that what you’re going to do when you get to San Fransisco?”

“Probably not. By the time we get out of the airport and back to my grandparent’s house, it’ll probably be close to twenty-one.” Kerry shrugged. “Maybe we’ll pick up something on the way and eat at home, or stop at a restaurant.”

Erywin studied Kerry for a few moments, watching his face, watching how he sat and touched his silverware and ignored his lunch. She leaned forward onto the table top. “May I offer a bit of advice?”

“Sure.” Kerry was only half paying attention to the professor up to the point where she asked her last questions. Before then his mind was on Annie, thinking of her home, sleeping, wondering what her room looked like—

Kerry.”

His looked up. “Sorry, Professor.”

“Erywin.”

“Erywin. What did you want to say?”

 

“You’re being a noob, kid.”  No, really.  She wouldn’t say that.  Helena, maybe, but Erywin, no.  She has other advice:

 

“You’re missing Annie, missing her dearly. Your mind is a aflutter with thoughts of her, and you can’t seem to concentrate on any one of them for long. Correct?”

He wasn’t going to lie. “Yeah.”

“You have to look at your separation from the standpoint of . . . time.” Erywin chuckled as she laid one hand upon the other on the table. “You know a little about that concept, yeah?”

Her question elicited a chuckle. “Yeah, I know a bit about that.”

“Then here is what you do. First, imagine the time you cherished during her departure. Remember the important things: hand holding, a hug, a touch, a conversation, a kiss. Keep that close to you, Kerry: hold it within you and don’t let it go.

“Then, when you start to miss her, think about those same moments, but frame it in the time since they happened. Start thinking, ‘It was only yesterday that happened’. Then, ‘It was only two days ago—’ then four days ago—then five and six . . . and before you know it, you’ve reached the mid-point of your holiday, and you’ll begin counting the days towards your return.”

She sat back, her eyes remaining on Kerry’s brightening face. “Then you begin imagining what it’ll be like when Annie and you are together again, and your hold that idea in your mind and think, ‘I’ll see her in a week’, then ‘I’ll see her in five days’; then it becomes three days, then two . . .

“After that it’s ‘I’ll see Annie tomorrow; maybe at night when I arrive, or maybe the next morning, but we’ll be together again’. Then you go to bed, wake up . . .” Erywin held up one hand and spread her fingers as if she were catching rain. “And it happens. You’re together again. This sadness that plagues you is over.”

 

It may not be the best advice in the world, but it’s something she employed when she was a young student who was away from her “pretty girl” during the holidays.  She also knows something else . . .

 

“Good. And, Kerry—” Erywin touched her heart and lightly patted her fingers against her chest. “This pain you’re feeling? It’s a good pain. It’s the the pain you feel when you know you’ll be reunited with someone you love, and who loves you as much.“

He slowly took in a breath and released it quickly. “It doesn’t feel that way.”

“Trust me: it is.” Erywin leaned across the table. “It’s when there isn’t anyone waiting for you that it becomes a horrible pain that you wish would go away forever.”

That’s a horrible thought. “You ever have that happen?”

“No.” She sat up and looked about to see if anyone were watching them. “I’ve been lucky; I’ve only had to deal with being separated from Helena, and no matter how long that lasted, she always came back to me.” She curled the fingers of both hands and slid her nails back and forth against each other for a few seconds. “I hope to never feel that second pain—and I hope you never do, either.”

 

When it comes right down to it, if there’s anyone at Salem who understands pain, it’s Erywin.  Her experiences as a young, open lesbian in love in the early 1980’s wasn’t the easiest, particularly when you know that she’s always worn her heart on her sleeve and has never been one to hide her emotions–hey, she sounds like someone else in this story, particularly when you consider her girlfriend/companion/partner who is really good at being a sorceress and keeping her feelings hidden from others . . .

You might say if there’s anyone at the school who sorta understands Kerry, it’s Erywin.  And it’s a relationship that will only build in time.  You heard it here first.

She’s so comfortable speaking with him about these things that she makes an offer that she doesn’t normally make to anyone else . . .

 

Erywin fell into contemplation for a few seconds, then spoke a bit more quiet than before. “Every solstice I offer up an invocation to our coven goddess—I don’t think I need to name name’s.” She took a couple of slow, measured breaths. “With your permission, I’ll ask her to watch over Annie and you so nothing bad happens to your relationship.”

Kerry didn’t say anything for a few seconds. He wasn’t traditionally religious—his mother was Catholic, his father was Protestant, and while he’d gone to church when he was younger, no one in his family had set foot in one since just before he turned seven—but he got that the school still followed the older beliefs that were started by the witches who’d founded Salem back in the Seventieth Century. It was the reason for the coven names, and why they referred to the various holidays by their traditional names.

He also got that there were a few people here who did more than pay lip service to “the old ways”, as he’d heard some people say. He knew Erywin was one, as were a few of the other instructors. None of them had ever offered to do anything like this before, and he was unsure if he should thank her and say no, or if he should qualify his statement first . . .

He lay his elbows on the table and slowly rubbed his palms together. “You know I don’t believe in any of that.”

“I know.” Erywin didn’t appear upset at all by his statement. “Which is why I asked if I could do so with your permission, because I know you and I don’t share the same beliefs.” She gave him a soft smile. “If there’s one thing I don’t do, it’s proselytize and arm twist.”

 

Little is said about the “old beliefs” at the school.  I know the school follows a few traditions that, to outsiders, would seem strange.  And none of it is forced upon the students–if you want to call Samhain “Halloween” or not participate in any of the little traditions that happen that weekend, you don’t have to join.  If anything, the traditions that were started in the 1600’s have changed over the centuries, and the witches who founded Salem would likely not recognize most of what happens at Beltane when the Blodeuwedd Coven starts the party going.

Erywin is being friendly in offering to say something to her deity on behalf of Annie and Kerry, but she also knows he may be offended by the offer, and tells him, “Hey, you don’t want me to do this, it’s cool.”  No one’s asking Annie, though, but then she knew about this stuff long before she entered school, and for all we know she’s down with the idea.  Maybe one day we’ll see.  Given how she’s taken to the idea that he’s become comfortable using the original holiday names, one must wonder.

And that’s when this happens:

 

“Well, that’s different.” Erywin smile brightened. “You participated in our Samhain traditions, and you didn’t experience any adverse affects, did you?”

She’s got me there. “Nah, none at all—and Annie loved walking between the bonfires.” He brushed a few strands of hair back from his face. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to have a Celtic war goddess watching over our relationship.”

“I agree.” Erywin reached over and touched Kerry’s hand. “And, for the records, I can’t say I’m entirely certain The Mórrígan exists—but our Phoenix is real, and so is Baba Yaga and a—”

“Wait—” Kerry wasn’t quite sure if he’d heard the instructor’s last statement correctly. “Baba Yaga is real?”

“Yes. She’s like our Phoenix: an old and powerful spirit living in Russia. She’s not pleasant to be around, either—ask Adric about her . . .” She tapped Kerry’s hand twice before pulling back. “My point is I don’t know if The Mórrígan is real: maybe yes, maybe no. But I find comfort in her protection, and who knows? Maybe she is out there watching—in which case I want to be on her good side.”

Based upon what he’d seen so far at the school—and vaguely remembering his E and A with the Phoenix when he arrived—he thought it entirely possible there could be something out there in the world calling itself The Mórrígan, and that it might actually like the fact that people believed in her protection . . . “It’s amazing the things I’m learning here. Six months ago I wouldn’t have believed there really were these powerful spirits—

“Six months ago you wouldn’t have believed you were a witch and sorceress, either.” She cocked her head to one side. “Look how that turned out.”

This time he laughed out loud. “Yeah. Can’t be skeptical about that any more, can I?”

 

Not only do we discover that Erywin is skeptical that a deity she’s offers invocations to may be real, but we discover that a creature of Russian folklore is real.  Does she have a hut with chicken legs, or does she just wander around the countryside and kill people because that’s how she rolls?  Now we’re beginning to see there are creatures out there that people have believed for centuries were just myths and stories, but surprise!  Not really.  Like Erywin tells Kerry, six months ago you wouldn’t have believed you were a witch–what do you say now, kid?

You say it’s a good idea you keep your options open.

Where I am right now is half-way through Chapter Twenty-Six.  It’s coming along nicely–

And look what's coming next!

And look what’s coming next!

Yeah.  Next scene is gonna be fun . . .