The Road to Recruitment: Here Be Gear

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

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

Sometimes you gotta add them ’cause it makes sense.

 

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

 

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

 

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

He smiled. “You know it.”

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

“Annie Kirilova.”

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

Annie nodded. “It does.”

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Made it through one of my hardest practices. #HARD #RollerGirl

A post shared by Cassidy Frazee (@cassidyfrazee) on

 

And my current helmet:

Time to practice! #HARD #RollerGirl

A post shared by Cassidy Frazee (@cassidyfrazee) on

 

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

How I looked a year after recruitment. Not bad. #HARD #DerbyGirl #StillMovingForward

A post shared by Cassidy Frazee (@cassidyfrazee) on

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Almost.

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The Road to Recruitment: Opening Night

Believe it or not, I’ve been writing.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Tonight was Recruitment Night.

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

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

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

 

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

Annie’s making some other observations–

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

This is why you sign a release, Annie.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I haz skatin’ insurance.

 

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

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

Until then, try guessing Annie’s derby name.

She already has it picked out.

Back At the End: With Friends Like That–

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

Yes, it really is.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

“But what?”

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

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

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

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

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

“So just be her friend.”

“If that works, yes.”

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

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

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

 

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

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

Back At the End: About Your Friends…

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

Soon…

A post shared by Cassidy Frazee (@cassidyfrazee) on

 

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

Wait for video: it’s coming.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

“Her being nice to you?”

“Yes.”

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

One may never know my reasons for things, either…

Back In the End: Waking Up

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

And I got my ass kicked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Including me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, on to writing.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

“What happened?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

On the Astral Winds: Easing Between Worlds

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

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

Such a small price to pay for so much fun.

 

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

We shall.

 

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

 

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

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

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

“How did it get into the Physical Realm?”

“Exactly.”

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

“Like having to fight a wendigo.”

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

“Got it in one.”

 

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

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

 

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

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

Annie nodded. “I know, but—”

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

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

 

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

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

One Million

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

“You mean murdered.”

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

 

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

Now just one last thing–

 

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

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

 

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

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

Because this is a special excerpt.

Oh, so special.

 

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

 

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

 

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

And in case you want a breakdown of the counts:

 

A For Advanced:  425,031 Words

B For Bewitching:  331,350 Words

C For Continuing:  243,728 Words and counting.

Total:  1,000,109 Words

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Yeah, if I get around to it–