Shoot Down the Firing Line

Right before midnight there was a hell of a storm here in The Burg, and one bit of lightning went off that must have been right above the apartment, because the flash and bang were almost simultaneous.  Great way to see the first half of the summer out, right?  Doesn’t make for good time trying to get to sleep, however.

So the last two days I’ve skirted with the thousand word limit.  The day before last I had nine hundred ninety-eight; last night it was nine hundred eighteen.  Close, but not quiet there.  However, those thousands add up after a while, and with three more scenes left in Chapter Nine, I have a good shot of ending Act One right at eighty thousand words, especially since I crossed seventy-five thousand, four hundred words last night.

This also means that, sticking with my two weeks per ten thousand schedule, I’ll finish Act One in the upcoming week–right before I have to leave The Burg and head back to Indiana for some personal business.  I could even start Act Two while on the road.

But what about the end of Act One?  Where is Kerry?

Ginger Hair Boy got snapped at by Chestnut Girl, and neither are pleased that it happened.  But that’s the breaks when you’re training hard, and all the training, and learning, are in your hands.  Best then to take a time out . . .

 

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

“Yeah, you did.” Kerry chuckled. “Because it’s true.” He reached across his body to pat her hand. “Can we take a break?”

She tugged on his arm. “Let’s go sit in the viewing gallery.”

There were a dozen chairs in the viewing gallery, each big enough for a single person. Kerry chose one against the wall opposite the entrance. He held tight to Annie’s hand. “Sit with me.”

She eyed Kerry, then the chair. “There isn’t enough room for us both.”

“Sure there is—” He sat and patted his thighs. “Join me.”

Annie held her hands tight against her belly. “You want me to sit on your lap?”

“Sure.” He glanced up through the top of his glasses. “It’s not like you weigh a lot.”

She slid into his lap, chuckling as she wrapped an arm around his neck. “This all right?”

“You’re fine.”

“As long as you’re comfortable, my love.” Annie rested against his shoulder. “What’s bothering you?”

“I don’t know.” He slowly slipped his arm around Annie and held her close. “I just don’t get why it’s so hard—I know I’m seeing it correctly in my head.” He sighed. “How did you figure out the right visualization for blood coming out of the body?”

“Well . . .” She leaned in close and whispered. “I have some experience with blood coming out of the body.” She kissed the side of his head. “Like now.”

Kerry’s eyes rolled up for a second before turning just enough to see Annie’s face. “Oh, yeah: I forgot.” He snuggled his head against hers. “I did check this morning, Sweetie—”

“I know you did; you always do.” A soft sigh slipped out from between pressed lips. “You always make me feel good.”

“Except I got you upset.” Kerry began to smile as he felt his frustration slowly drain away. “I didn’t want to do that; I don’t like doing that.”

 

Once upon a time Kerry mentioned to Nurse Coraline during “The Talk” that he was aware of Annie’s cycle–and isn’t it a good thing he didn’t mention that to his mother?  I’d also mentioned that, knowing Kerry, he probably went and set it up on a calendar somewhere, so he’d know when Annie Dim Red Tides were upon high.  But noticed:  he didn’t blame her snapping at him on that; he says he knows he made her upset, and he’s chilling on anything else.

But there’s something else afoot here . . .

 

Annie shifted her body so she didn’t cause Kerry too much discomfort. “You didn’t, love: not really. I was—” She set back several centimeter so she could better see his face. “It was as if I could feel your frustration. And as you grew more frustrated—”

“—It affected you.” He chuckled. “I could feel it coming off you.”

Annie didn’t want to discuss what she felt from Kerry, or what he felt from her: she wanted to discuss the reason why they were here, and what she thought might be the source of Kerry’s frustration. “May I make an observation?”

He chuckled. “You can make as many as you like.”

She sat up, no longer leaning against her soul mate. “Whenever you’ve had this—problem—in the past, it’s not because you don’t know how to craft the spell: it’s because you’re over-thinking the spell.”

Kerry pushed himself back deeper into the chair, his expression changing as he eyed Annie. “Like the first time you spoke with me in Spell Class a year ago.”

“Yes—” She nodded slowly. “Just like that time.”

“Yes.” He leaned back and stared at the ceiling for several seconds as he remembered the time a couple of weeks after the start of Beginning Spells, when Annie took him aside and explained the difference between being a technical and a natural witch. How being a natural witch meant not seeing magic as a series of steps one needed to craft in order to perform a spell, but more of a feeling that magic should just happen a certain way . . .

Kerry slowly pressed the palm of his right hand into his forever. “Ohhhh . . .” He closed his eyes and exhaled. “I’ve been so stupid.”

 

You are stupid, Kerry–stuuuupiiiidddd!  Yep, with a little help he thinks he’s got it.  And what is “it”?  Pretty much what you think it is–

 

She slipped off his lap and stood. “Let us go then—” She helped Kerry to his feet. “My love.”

They reentered the test area and Kerry proceeded directly towards the table with the practice torsos. He examined the torso on the right as if he were looking for flaws and imperfections. “I think I got this.”

“Do you?” Annie stood slightly behind him and to his left. “Do you really believe you know this?”

He glanced over his shoulder. “Yes—” He turned and stared at the torso for about fifteen seconds before slowly drawing back his left arm, keeping his hand close to his side. He held it there for a few seconds, then pushed it forward, twisting his hand around palm-upward once his arm was fully extended.

The moment Kerry’s arm became fully extended, blood began running from the torso’s nose, then started to pour from its ears and eyes as the chest and arms turned red with blood oozing from the pores. The pulsing heart began slowing as the light grew lighter. Ten seconds after the Exsanguination spell hit the torso, the light faded away as the heart ceased beating.

He turned to Annie, a huge smile stretched from cheek-to-cheek. “I do.”

She returned his smile as she began bouncing on the balls of her feet. “What changed?”

“Over-thinking.” He turned back towards the torso. “Way too much.”

Annie stepped next to him and took his hand. “How so?”

“By doing what I did back at the start of spells class, Sweetie. Here I’ve been thinking about Exsanguination the same way oxygen moves from the cells through the walls and into the tissue . . . I was trying to work the spell the scientific way, and it was all wrong.” He gave her hand a squeeze before throwing his arm around Annie’s shoulders. “This time I just thought about blood pushing through everything and pouring out into and through the body—” He shot an excited glance Annie’s way. “You put enough blood into the body, and even if it doesn’t ooze out of every pore, it’s gonna come out somewhere eventually. Right?”

 

One might say there’s no science in magic, and for the most part they’re right.  And even as good as Kerry can be at times, he still slips back into old habits–which is what happened here.  He’s trying to come up with some strange ideas of how the blood permeates the arterial membranes, when what he needed to see is blood being drawn out of someone’s body.  He figured it out, and he wants to move on–

 

“Yes, it will.” Annie turned and gave him a hug. “I knew there was something like that holding you back.” She leaned back, her face beaming. “It’ll take about ten minutes for the torso to soak up the blood, so you can use the other one—”

He shook his head. “No.” He looked over Annie’s shouldn’t. “I want to try the homunculus.”

“You do?”

“Yes.”

Annie backed away slowly, her eyes fixed on Kerry while she teased him with her words. “You do the spell right one time—”

“And I know I can do it again.”

She straightened her back and shot a stern look his way. “Farm Boy, I had better see his homunculus dead.”

He did a quick half-bow. “As you wish.”

 

Sure thing, Princess Buttercup:  you get that blue cabinet open . . .

 

Annie skipped over and planted a quick kiss on his cheek before turning towards the cabinets. “Let me unlock the door—”

“Not the blue.” His eyes shifted to his right. “The red.”

A moment of uncertainty passed over Annie’s face. “You really want a Tracker?”

“Why not? It’ll give me an incentive to get the spell right.” He rolled his shoulders, getting loose. “I mean, the worse that can happen is it’ll touch me and the enchantment will knock me out, right?”

“Right as rain.” She unlocked two of the red cabinet doors and began walking back towards Kerry. “I’ll get hidden so it doesn’t track me, then open the door.” Annie glanced to her right and examined Kerry’s mood. He’s not the least bit nervous—just like when we were in Kansas City. “Are you ready?”

He sighed out his eagerness. “Yes.”

Annie vanished from sight; five seconds later one of the unlocked doors opened and the homunculus stepped out.

Kerry was well aware of how these things worked. An enchantment keep the homunculus from noticing anything until they were about two meters from their cabinet, at which point they locked onto anything breathing. They’d continue following people around until they were either put down, or they came into contact with a person—at which point an enchantment carried by the homunculus rendered them unconscious, often with a variety of special effects.

As had happened many times during A Level Self Defense class, the homunculus detected Kerry after taking a few stepped away from the cabinet. The teenage-sized humanoid, attired in a light-blue paper coverall, headed towards him in a slow walk. He wasn’t fooled by their slow, steady movement: thought he was only four meters away, if he didn’t move the homunculus would be upon him in about ten seconds.

Having a Tracker coming his way put him under pressure to act—and to make everything work right.

He took a single step backwards as he visualized the effect the spell would have. He drew on the dark energy needed to power the spell. His crafting nearly complete, all that remained was to exert his will upon his crafting, and . . .

Kerry kept his hand close to his side this time, pressing his palm in the direction of the homunculus. Blood began flowing from the ears and nose, but it didn’t gush as it had with the practice torso. Now three meters away, the homunculus staggered slightly, but the lose of blood was only enough to slow the creature in its forward advance.

He took another step backwards and quickly re-crafted. He wasn’t rattled: his mind was clear and worked through his VEW steps rapidly. He drew in a breath, held it as he prepared himself, and pointed at the homunculus as if he were ordering it to sit.

Blood squirted from the nose, ears, and eyes. Red spots began appearing across the coverall as blood flowed from the pores, and small streams of blood flowed down the legs and dripped over the ankles. The homunculus took three staggering steps and slipped to the right, crashing to the floor. It twitched twice then lay still, leaving Kerry to stand over the homunculus and stare down at it in much in the same way he’d once done to a student during A Level Sorcery class.

 

Standing over a student in Sorcery Class?  Maybe one who is writhing in pain on the floor?  Yeah, that’s the Dark Kerry we’ve seen before, and he’s finally back.  He’s not only got this, but he knows something else:

 

Annie appeared at his left, having dropped her light bending spell. She hooked her right arm around his left. “I would say that was a successful use of Exsanguination.”

Kerry humphed. “It wasn’t perfect.”

“No, it wasn’t. Took you about twenty, twenty-five seconds to drop the target.”

“Yeah.” As much as he wanted to celebrate his accomplishment, he knew what was necessary. “I want to do it again.”

“I thought you might.” She turned him until he was facing her, then kissed him on the lips. “You’re becoming like me.”

“I’ll never be as good as you.” He kissed her back. “But I do want to get it right; I don’t want a repeat of the Link Bridge.”

Annie nodded. “Neither do I.” She pulled him closer. “Like it or not you are like me.”

“And I know what you would do—”

“Do you?” She nodded and released his arm, then hung both arms around his shoulders. Where the other kisses were quick and playful, this time she kissed him slowly and with enormous passion. My dark witch has learned his lesson

She broke the kiss but kept her eyes close as she breathed in his exhilaration. “Were you thinking of something like that?”

Kerry kissed her on the nose before glancing towards the red cabinet. “That was great, but . . . you need to set up another Tracker for me.”

Annie lightly pushed away from Kerry and performed her own little bow. “As you wish.”

 

Nothing like using a metaphor for “I love you” while learning spells designed to kill people, right?  One could say they are entirely too happy about this success, and a few people would be right:  they are happy.  There could be a myriad of reasons why, but sealing off the Firing Line for these two to wreck havoc was probably done not so much to keep them from being distracted, but to keep other students from seeing that they might just be having a little too much fun.  There’s also the kissing parts, too–at least this time they’re not covered in blood.  (I would still love for someone to draw that picture of them embracing after the zombie fight.)

So here we are:

Closer to the end, for sure.

Closer to the end, for sure.

And I’m really shooting for finishing this act up next week.

But first:  minion duty.  Maybe.

Remembrances of Posts Past

It’s one of those dark and stormy mornings here in The Burg, and in about ninety minutes I’m gonna have to get up and walk out there and maybe get rained on.  It’s hard to say, because at the moment it doesn’t look like it’s raining, but that could change by the time I’m dress and made up and heading out the door.

That’s the way life is:  one moment you’re blogging, the next you’re stuck in a thunderstorm and walking a mile in the rain.

I wrote last night.  I wrote a lot.  About a thousand words for my recap of a show I’m reviewing, and another thousand for the novel, and that’s a lot of words for one night.  It does seems as if I get up, write, go to work, program, come home, write, and crash about eleven at night.  Every night.  Well, almost:  I do take some weekends off.  Not a lot, but they are there.

One of the things I’ve done in the last few weeks it take some time and go back and read a few of my old posts.  Most of them aren’t really that interesting:  there was a period in 2012 where I didn’t say much of anything, and then suddenly:  boom!  I’ve got a lot on my mind and I’m gibbering all over the place.  I do know there were weeks in early 2012 when I was depressed as hell, and I struggled to write.  I struggled a lot.  Hell, I was struggling with everything–but that let to me getting therapy, and that was the first step I took to becoming who I am today.  Which may or may not be such a good thing, but that’s another post.

Last night I was checking out a few of the old posts and ran across one that I remember fondly, but hadn’t read all the way through in years.  I remembered the last third of it quite will, but I’d completely forgotten the majority of the post, and in their I found the story, pretty much laid out from the beginning, of how Annie and Kerry started.  It brought back a lot of memories, for it was a different local, a different time, and I was a far different person.  There were things I wanted to say, and I’d yet to begin writing the way I do today:  about the only time I’d speak in prose was here in this blog.  There were no stories other than the ones I was creating in my head–

And I was sharing them with only one person.

I don’t want to say “Those were the days,” because in a lot of ways they weren’t good days.  I was in a lot of pain, and even though the pain returns once in a while, it wasn’t like that pain.  Then again, I didn’t write today like I did back then, either.  To be honest it was more fun, because I was creating from scratch, and ideas were flowing, and it was helping me through hard times.  The ideas are still there, but today . . . I don’t seem to have the magic that I once had.  Maybe that’s because of . . . reasons.

Sometimes it feels like this.  Then again, I probably wouldn't mind this . . .

Sometimes it feels like this. Then again, I probably wouldn’t mind this . . .

My therapist always tells me not to look back because you can’t change the past.  I don’t want to change the past.

But I would love to bring parts of it to the present so I can hold it in the future.

Regretting the Firing Line

It wasn’t all the busy yesterday, and I was in one of those afternoon funks where I didn’t feel like doing a lot.  It does seem like afternoons are not good for me; most of my writing is done in the morning and evening these days, and the rest of the day is spent for running around and relaxing–or taking deep naps, if you want to look at it that way.

Though, once more, between what I wrote in the morning an what I wrote in the evening, I still managed to add about a thousand and fifty words to the story.  If you consider that I also managed close to a thousand words on my first review–yeah, I know:  shut up.  Just shuttity up, up, up.

Go about your jobs, Cassie.

Back to the Firing Line, where things are not going well . . .

 

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

There were times early on during his A Levels when Kerry felt worried that he wasn’t getting spells right, or fearful that he was going to screw up something and had a spell go sideways on him. There were even times he considered the possibility that he simply wouldn’t get the spell, and never figure it out.

Today, just over a year after he began understanding how to craft spells, and do magic, he encountered an emotion that he’d yet to experience:

Frustration.

 

We saw Kerry, early on in the last book, get frustrated with magic–not a lot of times, but it was there.  We saw Annie get flustered once when she couldn’t get a spell.  Both times the other was there to help out, and they got through their moments.

When you’ve been around someone long enough, however, sometimes you forget they have those moments.  Kerry is sort of like, “I don’t remember the last time this happened to me.”  Unfortunately, Annie’s feeling the same way, and she’s also getting a bit flustered by his inability to bleed out his practice torso.  Maybe Annie should try another approach:  “My love, why don’t you just bleed that torso out.  Do it for me?”

But that’s not what happens:

 

His last attempt produced the same results, causing him to flip his hands into the air. “Ah, screw this.”

Annie wasn’t about to accept his comment as the last word. “It’s all right. Let’s try again—”

He shook his head. “I’ll get the same result.”

“You will if you think that way.” She crossed her arms as she shifted her weight from foot to foot. “Please, try again.”

He stared blankly at the torso. “I’m just gonna do the same thing—”

“I know you know you can do this.”

He half turned and scowled. “I’ve been trying—”

You aren’t trying hard enough.”

Kerry almost recoiled as Annie snapped. She didn’t shout or yell: she didn’t even raise her voice. But her tone let him know that she wasn’t pleased, and that he needed to work harder. Instead he lowered his head and stared at the floor, wondering what he was doing wrong, why he couldn’t get the spell to bend to his will—

Annie was there, along side, with a light touch on his arm and a soft and comforting look upon her face. “I’m sorry, my darling. I shouldn’t have spoke that way.”

He leaned his head towards her and shrugged. “It’s okay, Sweetie.”

“It’s not. I didn’t mean that.”

“Yeah, you did.” Kerry chuckled. “Because it’s true.” He reached across his body to pat her hand. “Can we take a break?”

She tugged on his arm. “Let’s go sit in the viewing gallery.”

 

You’re always hardest on the one you love, right?  We’ve not seen that with these two, but of the two it seemed likely that Annie might be the one to get a little . . . stern with Kerry.

Perhaps they can talk about it when they walk back to the Pentagram for dinner . . .

"It's okay.  You were right:  I should have been able to bleed out that dummy and kill it--"

“It’s okay. You were right: I should have been able to bleed out that dummy and kill it–“

Ah, young love:  doing spells and killing homunculus together.

It doesn’t get any better.

Preparing the Firing Line

It all feels a bit strange this morning, as I progress with the development of the novel, and in particular the latest scene.  According to my record I’ve written almost sixteen hundred words since yesterday morning, and yet, it feels like I’ve written almost nothing.  Perhaps this is due to having a lot on my mind of late, and feeling a lot of distractions all around as I work upon this final chapter of Act One.

Also, last night, I was screwing around with a map route an trying to fill out the spell list, so that only added to the feeling that all is not as well in Salem as it should.  What is more likely is that I’m just freaking myself out over nothing, and given that I’ll probably start on the next scene this afternoon, as well as start on my first television review of the AMC show Humans tonight, this later hypothesis doesn’t require a great deal of testing to ring true.

But you don’t want to hear that, do you?  You want to see, not be told.  Seeing it is, then.

Homunculi and training torsos are in place, and Professor Chai has jaunted out of the house.  What does this mean?  You know it won’t take long to get to that point . . .

 

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

Now that they were alone, Kerry decided it was time to ask questions. “What’s up today, Sweetie?” He came over and joined her. “What’s up with—” He ran a hand lightly over the red cabinet. “—these?”

Annie took a deep breath before answering. “I spoke with Helena Tuesday night while you were in class. She wanted to know how our development was coming along.”

He didn’t need to ask about development in what. “You mean in sorcery?”

“And in transformation magic. We told her and the others last school year that I would teach you and you would teach me.” She gave him the slightest of smiles. “Helena wanted an update on where we were.”

“And what did you tell her?”

“The truth, my love. I said including the spells we learned in class last year, you knew Shadow Ribbons and Cold Fire, that you knew how to charge a Fireball and Air Hammer with dark energy, and that you could do the same with normal spells. Along with Physical Shields you were developing Minor Spell Shields and that you’d start on the major version of that . . .” She paused only long enough to catch her breath. “I also said that as far as Morte spells were concerned you were well versed with the minor version of Electrify, but that you hadn’t quite mastered the spell, and that you were starting to develop Exsanguination.”

 

As pointed out yesterday, it’s scary enough to know these two can toss around fireballs powerful enough to light up a large bonfire, but then you add in the Shadow Ribbons and C0ld Fire and dark versions of shields and Air Hammers, and it becomes a bit more frightening knowing how formidable they are–which, of course, a majority of the school doesn’t know, but can only guess.

But what about these death spells?  Well . . .

 

Kerry dropped his gaze towards the floor. He’d kept his birthday promise from last year, when he’d told Annie that he’d walk with her and become a Guardian—as she had put it, she wanted him to be “her Dark Witch—but learning Exsanguination hadn’t progressed beyond the visualization stage. He pointed to the cabinets. “I guess it’s time to do more than start developing.”

“Yes, it is. Helena said she wants you to reach my understanding and use of the spell as soon as possible: Her reasoning is that, should the need arise, we’ll complement each other with equal knowledge of both Morte spells, and that will make us more formidable should we—” She slowly arched her brow. “—run into another situation where we need those spells.

“While I teach you that, she wants you to help me improve my mastery of Electrify, since you have a better understanding of the spell.”

 

There you have it:  Helena worries they may encounter another . . . situation . . . and so the best thing to do is be more bad ass.  Just wait until Helena has kids of her own:  those will be some scary youngsters.  Just like Mom was when she went to witch school.

But is that all?  Of course not!

 

“It’s not.” Her gaze locked on to that of her soul mate. “I’m going to show you how to do Shadow Net, which is another Shadow Discipline, and can be used to restrain or capture someone. There’s also Blend With Darkness, which is also a Shadow Discipline and works something like Light Bending.”

“Why do we need that if we can already bend light?”

“It’s far harder to detect, especially at night. At low levels you are invisible and you can move seamlessly from shadow to shadow, but at higher levels you become completely insubstantial.” Annie’s eyes twinkled as she grinned. “Helena said it’s just like being an astral form within the Physical Realm: people can walk right through you and never know you were there.”

Kerry couldn’t help but smile as well. “Like being a ghost.”

“Exactly. Now, that’s what I am supposed to show you—” She tapped him on the chest. “You, my love, are to show me what you’ve learned as far as Minor Personal Transformations are concerned. We know you’re working on changing your features, because Jessica is speaking with Helena so she’s aware of everything you’re doing that class.”

“Guess I can’t hide anything from you guys.” He pulled Annie close and wrapped her up in an embrace. “How do you want to do this, my little pumpkin?”

 

No, death spells aren’t enough:  time to rock those transformations and Shadow Disciplines.  Blend With Darkness was what Isis used during The Scouring, but she could, and still does, only use it at a minor level:  as Annie mentions, once you’re using it at higher levels, you are a shadow.  And how does one combat a magic wielding shadow?

Just ask The Doctor:  he hates fighting shadows.

Become one with the Vashta Nerada.  And eat all the chicken you like.

There’s also transformation spells that Kerry is learning that, according to what Annie has learned from Helena, will allow him to change his features.  Meaning what?  Remember Jessica showing up at last year’s Samhain dance looking like a Na’vi?  Or Emma looking like a katana-swinging, zombie-killing woman of color?  Those are pretty good examples of “changing your features,” and if they figure these out quickly, they could be very popular with other students looking for costume ideas in a couple of weeks.  If not, there’s always next year . . .

The novel sort of looks like this now–

Moment by moment, scene by scene.

Moment by moment, scene by scene.

And what’s this?  A subscene!  My first of the story.  Given that it’s called Dark Witch Frustration, it could mean that Annie or Kerry, or both, are running into a bit of difficulty with this particular lesson–

Enter the Firing Line

This has been a crazy week, and yesterday was probably as cray-cray as any day I’ve seen–but I mean that in the best of ways.  It started out with a crying jag at seven-thirty, and ended with a swollen face that needed considerable icing–

I believe, "Stingin' like a mofo" is the technical term for how I felt.

I believe, “Stingin’ like a mofo” is the technical term for how I felt at the time.

But I got my brows shaped as well, and because of holidays and travel in the upcoming weeks, I don’t go back for more electrolysis until near the end of July, so I can give my face a rest from the last nine session of having a small probe pushed into your face followed by having a hair pulled out–something I actually watched for about three minutes last night.

On the way to and from my session I thought about the scene I’m working on now.  It goes to a place that was only mentioned in passing in the first book, but now we’re finally getting a look at the Firing Line.

Right there in the upper left-hand corner.  There's no reason why it's placed away from everything else--why do you ask?

Right there in the upper left-hand corner. There’s no reason why it’s placed away from everything else–why do you ask?

As mentioned in the scene Annie and Kerry where their to show Wednesday they could toss fireballs with the best of the D & D wizards, and if you don’t think a majority of students didn’t feel a bit of a chill watching those two light up those Beltane bonfires, you’re not thinking this out.  Mom and Dad Malibey should watch those personal questions in the future . . .

It plays out in the scene that Annie has requested Kerry’s presence here on a Thursday afternoon, which, you’ll eventually discover, is free time for them.  If you have free time, might as well fill it up, right?

 

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

The interior was as sparse and unadorned as the exterior. The entryway was a large viewing gallery situated behind physical glass enhanced with enchantments. Beyond that was nothing but open space sixty-five meters long and sixteen wide, insulated against every destructive magic known. They passed through the viewing gallery and headed into the main structure. They weren’t alone: Professor Chai was there standing next to the covered work table and two large, color coded cabinets. Annie wasn’t surprised: she expected to find the self defense and weapons instructor waiting for them. “Hello, Professor.”

“Hello, Annie.” Professor Chai tilted her head slightly to the right. “Hello, Kerry.”

“Hello, Professor.” His attention shifted to the cabinets next to the small instructor. “What are those for?”

 

Glad you asked, Kerry–

 

“Training.” She looked at Annie as she spoke. “Here you go, just as Helena requested: training torsos and homunculi.”

Annie gave the professor a quick nod. “May I see the torsos?”

“Certainly.” Professor Chai pulled back the covers revealing the two training torsos, which weren’t actual torsos as they were human-looking bodies minus limbs. They looked a great deal like the one she’s practiced on at home—though that one never had the slight discoloration in the center of the chest see saw now. “Beating Heart option?”

“Yes, just like on some of the homunculi you practiced on last year.” The Beating Heart option allowed students to see how close they were to “killing” their homunculus: a strong pulsing red meant they were in full health, but as their health deteriorated the pulse would grow weaker. “These, like the ones in the cabinets, are modified so the color becomes lighter as they lose blood. That will give you an idea of how well you’re doing with your spells.”

“Good.” Annie moved towards the nearest cabinet, which was dark blue. “Why the different colors?”

“Different homunculi. The ones in the blue cabinet are Roamers; they’ll wander about aimlessly and won’t take action against you. The ones in the red are Trackers, and you know all about those—”

Kerry moved closer to the red cabinets. “These are the Walkers, aren’t they?”

“Yes: the zombies Annie and you dispatched so readily last year.”

 

Boy, do Annie and Kerry remember those zombies:  the test that set them apart from the rest of their levelmates, put them on a different path than everyone else, and left more than a few students retching in the aftermath of the bloody mess they left behind.

But what’s happening here?

You’ll have to wait and see what else I have to say . . .

That Which is Known and Unknown

A funny thing happened on the way to finishing up my writing last night–I was reading.  That’s not really that funny, but it points out that research can sometime mean going back and finding new . . . things.

I was reading over some scenes from the last novel, a scene that I knew pretty well, or at least thought I did.  It’s a good scene, explained more than I remembered–and then I saw it.  A single line, maybe eight or night words–but the moment I read it I thought, “Well, damn:  I’m going to need to change that.”

Why, you may ask?  Because it was something stated that will affect a scene I haven’t written yet, and the moment I saw what I had written, it hit me that I’d have to, at the very least, modify the line to allow something that would be said in, oh, maybe another thirty thousand or so words.  So I need to do a little rectoning–not much, just change the line a bit–but since that novel isn’t out, no harm, no foul.

Though I also found two other students who I hadn’t accounted for, and I had to do a little retconing on one of them so they’d fit in with my attendance these days.  Look, I’m only a half a million words away from where I started two years ago, give me a break.

Speaking of breaks, Kerry’s up, and it looks like something’s happening–

 

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

“Hello, Annie; Kerry.”

Professor Semplen approached the table, appearing relaxed and friendly. Annie hadn’t seen much of him since their time in Berlin, though he did stop by and wish her an happy birthday as he had the year before. She through they could were missing each other—save during his class—because Kerry’s and her schedule was so different from the rest of the B Levels. “Hello, Professor.”

Kerry set his hand in his lap. “Hello, Professor.”

“I hope I’m not interrupting—” Professor Semplen approached the table and stood opposite his covenmates for a few seconds. “May I join you for a moment?”

The children exchanged glances before Kerry nodded. “Please, have a seat.”

The professor chose the chair across from Kerry. “I won’t stay long: I just wanted to catch you before you headed to the Flight School. I saw your name on the tryout sheet for today.”

 

Kerry and racing sign-up sheets.  Annie had a few thoughts on that, and all along she’s said he’s going to do it, so why act like he’s not?  Because he’s Kerry, that’s why.  But here he’s got this coven leader–and I should mentioned, one of the coven racing managers and the head of their coven team–coming to him, so it much be something important, right?

 

Kerry didn’t appear nervous or self-conscious about the question, though. “Yeah, I signed up for the seventeen-fifteen slot so I can get down to The Diamond after class.” He set his elbows against the table top and leaned forward. “Should I come down earlier?”

“Actually . . .” Professor Semplen shook his head. “You don’t need to come down at all.”

Kerry went from appearing concerned to looking worried. “Is—is there something wrong? What’s going on?”

Sitting where she was between them, Annie easily read Kerry’s and Professor Semplen’s expressions and body language. She saw the answer before Kerry because she was a bystander. “Kerry . . . I think the professor is saying you don’t need to try out for the team.”

Kerry stared at his girlfriend for about three seconds before the her statement made sense. He slowly turned to his coven leader. “Is that true, Professor?”

Professor Semplen adjusted his glasses. “Only four people signed up for try-outs, and I’d already decided that you were going to get one of the B Team slots.” He shrugged. “Based upon everything we’ve seen from last year, and everything you’ve done, I’ve no doubt you’ll do well.”

“But I’ve never competed before—”

“No? What about the test races you were in on the Green Line and The Diamond? What about your accident last October?” The professor looked away for a moment. “What about the flying you did during the Day of the Dead?”

As Kerry was about to respond to the professor’s questions, Annie spoke to him instead. “This has been on your mind for a while, and the closer you get to the moment of proving yourself, the more you feel you’re not going to do well.” Her grin turned into a near smirk. “Once you wrapped your mind around magic you never had a problem. And you won’t have a problem with racing. Do you know what my father says?”

The fact that Annie was bringing up her father told Kerry all he needed to know about what she was going to say. “What?”

“Don’t worry about racing: just race.” She reached over and lightly touched his arm. “Professor Semplen is right: he doesn’t need to see you try out, my love. The moment the track lights turn green, you’ll know what to do.”

 

Annie never brings up her father unless it’s important, and here she’s quoting him to put his mind at ease.  But she’s known all along that he’d make the team–and given there are so few people in their coven to try out for those three slots, and Kerry is one of the best up and coming fliers, that it was ridiculous to believe he wouldn’t.  So after that all that remains is to tell him to show up Sunday to get fitted for his racing gear and get checked out on a Class 2–which he already has–and be ready to race in two weeks–

If he were on the A Team he's probably start next Saturday.  I know because . . . I know.

If he were on the A Team he’s probably start next Saturday. I know because . . . I know.

All that remains now is for Annie and Kerry to have a small, quiet moment together . . .

 

Once Professor Semplen was out of hearing range, Annie moved her chair closer to Kerry so that she didn’t have lean in order to touch his arm. “Well . . .”

Kerry looked down, full well knowing what was coming. “Yes?”

“Do I get to say I told you so?”

He lifted her hand from his arm. “Sweetie—” He kissed her hand tenderly. “You’ve been telling me that since I said I may go out.”

Annie chuckled. “You know I’m always right, my love.”

He laughed along with her. “I know, Sweetie. You’d think I’d get that by now.”

 

. . . and bring about the end of the chapter.

End of the chapter?  Yep.  Sure is.

End of the chapter? Yep. Sure is.

Now on to nine, and we’re going see some crazy here, because you can probably guess what Dark Witch Instruction is about–or maybe not.  You’ll just have to tune in and hope I write after my face burning tonight.

To There and Back Again

For once I was recharged and ready to go yesterday.  I mean, I was tired after work, but only because it was as long, boring day, and I wanted to get home bad.  But there were things to do:  a paper to edit (okay, I wasn’t really into that one), a novel to write, and a intro to the television reviews I’m going to do.  I got in there and did them.  Did them hard.  Got the paper out of the way, wrote up almost nine hundred words on my intro, then turned around and added another six hundred and sixty four words to the novel.  Really, I tried making it to sixty-six, but it didn’t happen.  Maybe next time.

Another goal was reached as well:  seventy thousand words passed.  And this time in twelve days instead of fifteen.  I had to make up for lost time, right?

It only seems like six weeks ago this had just become a novel.

It only seems like six weeks ago this had just become a novel.

The rate at which I’m working leads me to believe I’ll finish Act One in a couple of weeks–probably during the time when I’m back home in Indiana.  If this is true, then the first act will end up somewhere between eighty and eighty-five thousand words, and the other two acts, if the same size, will pull the novel in at a quarter of a million words.  Though that can change, because I believe Act Three might just end up a little bigger than the others.

Doesn’t matter.  At least I can release this book as one book, and not as a multi-volume encyclopedia.  It’s easier to read that way.

And what about those six hundred words?  Well, they’re right down here, and it’s a bit of a continuation for Annie . . .

 

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

Annie remembered the first time Kerry and she walked into the Dining Hall with their flight gear on and their brooms in hand—the first Saturday after the first week of classes. She’d visited Deanna in Memory’s End while Kerry was with Vicky getting checked out on an Espinoza. He later met her as she was walking back to The Pentagram and convinced her to fly around the school grounds with him.

Mid-way through their day they buzzed the Great Hall, landed in the garden, and went inside for lunch. Though Kerry didn’t seem to notice, Annie was keenly aware that at least a third of the students in the hall watched them as they walked to their then always-reserved table, set down their brooms, then unzipped their flight jackets as they sat and waited to order.

Since then they’d done the same thing many times, including twice in the last month since returning to school. Only as they entered the Dining Hall this time, Annie felt something different. It was akin to the buzz she noticed the first time the walked in like this, as if they were once more drawing attention to themselves by simply looking different.

It’s entirely possible people know something about me and my training. Most of the B Levels were aware that she was spending time with Isis in the Aerodrome, and that Kerry had been with her the first time, and today. She figured there were rumors floating about, but so far nothing had reached her ears. Whenever anyone asked either of them what she or they were doing, the answer was always the same: flying. Not that we’re misleading anyone with that answer . . .

Kerry held her seat and waited for her to get comfortable before taking the seat to her right. “You still hungry?”

“More now.” Annie unzipped her jacket, shrugged it off, and hung it on the back of her seat. “Particularly after that second flight.”

“Yeah.” Kerry retrieved the short lunch menu in the center of their table. “I wasn’t expecting a quick trip to Ipswich after getting back to the Aerodrome.”

Annie hadn’t either. Upon returning to the school they landed inside the Aerodrome—entering through the same roof entrance Annie had used the week before—and spent about twenty minutes discussing the flight. After going over a few minor issues, Isis told Kerry to saddle up once more, and motioned for Annie to follow her into the open air beyond the Aerodrome.

The moment they were outside they flew up to five hundred meters and struck out on a westerly course. They flew on a direct course for ten kilometers to the train station at Ipswich, paused there for about five minutes so everyone could get their bearings, then covered a fast five kilometers to the Crane Estate at Castle Hill. They touched down in the gardens far away from the mansion, walked around for about thirty minutes, then returned directly to the school. Isis pushed Annie on this last leg, getting her speed up to near one hundred and twenty kilometers and hour, a third more than the sixty and seventy kilometers and hour they’d flown on the first flight.

 

That route was easy to figure out–

Because you know I did.

Because you know I did.

And though not stated above, it was nearly thirty-two kilometers, or twenty miles, right on the dot.  An interesting thing here is the Castle Hill/Crane Estate area.  If you’ve seen The Witches of Eastwick or Flowers in the Attic, you’ve seen the house:  it was the estate used in both movies.  You can also do a wedding there if you have the money.

Or, if you're Annie, Kerry, and Isis, fly in and see the place from this angle.

Or, if you’re Annie, Kerry, and Isis, fly in and see the place from this angle.

Who know, there might be something important about this house–like, owned by The Foundation, or something?  Or maybe someone in the novel will get married there–

Let me see:  are there any couples in this story?