A Walk in the Park: The Magic Show

Happy whatever you are or aren’t celebrating today, for there are so many things that are and aren’t happening that it’s impossible to cover them all.  As I pointed out yesterday, Christmas Eve was once celebrated as Mōdraniht, which was a night when all the women got together and had a nice little fertility celebration for the coming year.  And today was considered part of the Wild Hunt, when Odin and the boys would go out and kill all the draugr that had collected during the year.  Draugr were undead, so yeah, it was a Walking Dead Holiday, and you needed to stay inside least you got mistaken for a Walker–which means Carl would totally have gotten smoked since Lori couldn’t keep him in the house . . .

But it’s April in my story, and in the last two days I’ve written just over two thousand words to finish up this current scene.  Thing didn’t progress as I’d planed, but I expect the next scene to start and finish today, and then . . . well, we’ll see what comes next, right?

As it is my kids are getting things set up for Tanith, and they’re not beating around the bush–but as I was informed yesterday, too, that’s sort of how kids are.  Why beat around the bush when you’re twelve and a witch?  Hop on the broom and zoom . . .

 

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

“Your father went to the same school we attend.” Annie moved a step closer to the girl. “He graduated a while ago and got a job with the people who run our school.” She looked down for a moment. “That’s where he met your mother—where they worked.”

Tanith closed her eyes. “You know about my mother?”

“We know where they met, what your father did, what your mother did—”

“What has he never told me any of this?” She stared at a point between Annie and Kerry near the base of the tree they stood alongside. “Why didn’t he tell me about magic?”

“Probably because of what happened to your mom.” Kerry tilted his head to one said and spoke in a low voice. “After your mom died your dad freaked a little and thought the people who run our school were getting into his life a little too much, so he left Albuquerque and came here.” He sighed. “He probably thought they were gonna start getting into your life, too, which was another reason why he left.”

“Why would he want to get out of Albuquerque, though?” Tanith shook her head. “I loved it there. This place—” She shook her head. “It sucks: I hate it.”

 

Hey, magical girls hate moving, too!  She liked it there in the Fictional Meth Capitol of the United States, and is not cool with Daddy uprooting her to one of the Rib Capitols of the World.  And why was that?

 

“The people who run our school have a large presence in Albuquerque. That was one of the reason your father wanted to move: to get away from them. And like . . .” Annie almost forget to use Kerry’s code name and caught herself at the last moment. “Gavin said, he was probably worried they would start watching you. Maybe he knew what was happening to you.” She watched Tanith closely. “Have strange things been happening around you?”

Tanith nodded slowly. “Yeah.”

“Such as?”

“It’s like . . .” She brought her hands together into a fist and rested them against her chin. “Sometimes I’ll be looking for something and I can’t find it, and it’ll just show up. Usually a top or bra or something like that.”

Kerry chuckled. “I had that happened a couple of times; I’d look for a book and it’d be sitting on my desk.” He looked at Annie. “I didn’t talk about it until after I’d started school and begun using magic.”

“It didn’t matter by that time.” She turned away from Kerry and back to Tanith. “That’s fairly common: it’s called Involuntary Translocation. You’re basically calling something to you, but you have no real skill in crafting the spell, so it just pops in somewhere close. I had the same thing happen to me when I started becoming Aware, but I was like five at the time.”

Five?”

“My mother and father are witches, as are my grandparents.” Annie tried not to sound like she was bragging, but she couldn’t help being proud of her lineage. “We’ve had witches in our family lines going back seven generations.”

“Oh.” Tanith glanced at Kerry. “You, too?”

“No. I come from what you call a Normal background—that’s with a capital ‘N’.” He scratched himself as he smiled. “There was a witch in my family about five generations back, but I’m the first one since then.” He motioned towards Tanith. “You’re more like . . . Nadya: you’re a Legacy.”

 

For the first time we hear that Kerry noticed some strange things happening to him as well, but he’d started doing magic before he ever had a chance to talk about it–or did he?  After all, he spoke to Annie in his dreams, and after she told him she was a witch, you’d think he’d say something like, “You know, there’s some strange stuff happening to me . . .”  But did he?  Hum . . . maybe I know if he did, maybe I don’t.  I’m not saying–least not yet.

But all this talk of Normals and Legacies and levelmates, it brings out things that one shouldn’t be showing . . .

 

Annie shot Kerry a quick glance. “That’s someone who comes from witches—”

Kerry laid his hand against Annie’s arm. “Of which she’s the only one in our level. The rest of the witches are like me.”

“No, they’re not.” Annie reached around and took his hand. “None of them are like you . . .”

They stared at each other for a few seconds and only broke eye contact when Tanith cleared her throat. “Um, are you two like together, or something?”

“Or something.” Kerry dropped his hand from Annie’s arm.

“Um, huh.” Tanith turned to the smiling girl standing next to the smiling boy. “You said I’m becoming like you?”

 

Damn, kids, keep it in the hotel room, will ya?  You’re gonna scare the proto-witch with the long, lingering looks if you keep that up.  I blame the hormones . . .

But what’s the point of coming out here to the park and going all invisible and stuff if you’re not going to do something.  Well, the something is about to go down.

 

“You guys did that floating . . . thing in the mall.” The look in Tanith’s eyes said it all. “Can you show me more?”

“That was the idea.” Annie glanced over to Kerry. “Ready to do what we were talking about?”

“Sure thing.” He went and stood next to Tanith and spoke to her in a low voice. “Watch this.”

Annie stood with here hands at her side and stared straight ahead, right through Tanith and Kerry. Her eyes shifted to Kerry for a moment as the crease of a smile radiated from her face. Centimeter by centimeter Annie rose off the ground, as if she were being lifted into the air by unseen cables. In twenty seconds she was three meters above the ground, floating without a hint of wavering or shaking.

Tanith’s eyes grew wide. “Wow. That’s incredible.”

“That’s Levitation.” Kerry crossed his arms an smiled up at Annie. “She’s really good at doing it to herself. I’m still learning to do it that way, but I can levitate other things—”

“You ready?” Annie folded her hands in front of herself as if she was still sanding on solid ground.

“Sure thing.” He leaned over and whispered to Tanith. “Don’t get too freaked out.”

“At?” Tanith began waving her arms about. “Whaaaa—”

He took her left hand and held on. “Relax: she knows what she’s doing.” He looked down and saw Tanith and he were already a good fifteen centimeters off the ground and rising slowly. They’d planed for Annie to do this to them both due to her skill. In about thirty seconds they were both almost eye level to her. “And here we are.”

“Who’s doing this?” Tanith looked around, her worry replaced with wonder.

“I am.” Annie still appeared as relax as if she were discussing the weather. “I levitated myself and then lifted you both.”

“Don’t you need like a wand, or something?” Tanith looked down and moved her feet back and forth.

“Naw, that’s just for fictional witches.” All three children dropped slowly towards the ground as Kerry explained magic to Tanith. “It’s all about visualizing the effect, then powering the spell, then crafting it all with your willpower. It’s the middle part that makes your aura glow—”

“Because you’re constantly drawing upon that mystical energy—” Annie set them down as gently as if they were stepping off a curb. “Even when you’re not casting.”

 

Now you know why the aura is always glowing with these witches:  mystical energy is in their bodies at all time.  We also see just how good Annie’s gotten since that first Wednesday in October, when she was on the verge of despair because she couldn’t levitate a small plush; now she’s levitating herself and her boyfriend and another girl.  And no wands!  That’s really gonna cut down on selling ideas if this story ever becomes a movie . . .

This means that there’s a question to ask Kerry–

 

“Cool.” Tanith poked Kerry. “And what can you do?”

“He’s good with transformation magic.” Annie’s eyes twinkled. “Aren’t you, dear?”

Tanith’s brow furrowed. “Dear?”

Kerry ignored her. “Let me show you what she means . . .” He lightly touched her hand, barely brushing his fingers across her skin. Seconds later Kerry’s hair changed, darkening and becoming as curly as Tanith’s. A moment after that his complexion darkened, becoming a perfect match to hers in under five seconds.

He bent his head to one side and held up his hands in mock jubilation. “Ta da.”

For the first time since they’d gotten together Tanith laughed. “Oh, cool. You could be my brother.”

“Maybe.” His hair changed back to the color Kerry was using and his complexion changed back to his original. “I’ve found I can do this pretty easily; it’s like all I have to do is be around a person, and I can do a small personal transformation.”

“You changed your hair and complexion—” Tanith scoffed. “That’s small?”

“We’ll be able to do full transformations into just about anything in a few years.” Annie patted Kerry on the arm. “Ready for the next?”

 

There’s been hinting that Kerry is extremely good with transformation magic, and the things they both did here in the scene will be mentioned later in the story, because these things Annie and Kerry did here, the things they’re good at–they’re really good at them.

And as Annie indicated, they’re not finished . . .

 

“What’s next?” The smile on Tanith’s face grew wider. “There’s more.”

Annie nodded. “A little sorcery this time—”

“Sorcery? Like black magic?”

“What you might call black magic, yes. It’s mostly magic that can be used against another person either offensively or defensively.” She held up her right hand, keeping it close to her side. In about five seconds a small ball began to form just above the palm of her hand. A few seconds later the bright blue ball was about fifteen centimeters across.

Tanith moved a little closer to examine Annie’s magic. “What’s that?”

“Cold fire. On the surface it’s room temperature—” She ran her fingers over the top, just inside the interface before she reached out and levitated a stick towards her. “But inside . . .” Annie grabbed the stick and thrust it into the center, where about five centimeters of the end burst into flame. “It’s as hot as any natural fire.”

Kerry nodded. “Or a lot hotter.”

Annie blew out the fire on the stick before dropping it to the ground. She flicked her hands to the side, vanquishing the cold fire. “If you know what you’re doing, you can incinerate a body in less than a minute.”

Tanith said nothing, just taking in the information. She looked at Kerry. “Can you do that?”

“I’m working on it, but . . .” He grinned as he raised his left hand. “I’m working on something else.” A bright pin-point of light appeared over Kerry’s upturned palm. It expanded to almost the same size as Annie’s cold fire, with a dull violet color instead of bright blue. “A different kind of ball.”

“Is that—” Tanith leaned closer to it to hear the faint crackle and feel the charge running near her skin. “That’s electricity?”

“Ball lightening.” He flexed his hand and the ball vanished. “Same thing, though, more or less. I’ve been working on that for a few months.”

“He’s become good with the spell, too.” Annie took Kerry’s arm; at this point she didn’t care of Tanith saw them acting this way or not. “Though he’s convinced he can do better.”

Kerry shrugged. “That’s just me.”

“I know.”

Tanith ignored the touchy-feely stuff going on between these two: whatever story they were trying to pull off, “Nadya” and “Gavin” were far more than friends, and it showed before this moment. “Would I be able to learn that if I, you know, went to your school?”

 

And there’s that “touchy-feely” stuff going on again.  Annie doesn’t care:  she can only stay away from her “brother” for so long before she’s gonna hold hands or something.  Since Ms. New Witch noticed this already, no need to hide any more, right?

With the magic show over, it’s time to state why they’re really here . . .

 

Annie shook her head. “We’re more than that. We wanted to tell you that you’re becoming like us—”

Kerry placed his hands in the pockets of his jacket. “Show you that magic exists—”

“And let you know you, too, can learn.” Annie linked her arm through Kerry’s. “We were sent here to bring you in.”

Now Tanith was back to being confused. “Bring me in?”

“Yes. The idea now is to take you somewhere and have you meet with the rest of our group, then visit your father, speak with him, and . . .” Annie glanced at Kerry, who was looking back at Annie. “Convince him that it’s best you embrace your new life.” She smiled softly. “It’s time to bring you home, Tanith.”

 

“It’s time to bring you home . . .”  Salem as home is a point that’s going to pop up time and again in the story of Annie and Kerr, because The Foundation–and Salem in particular–is becoming their home.  The dream space was their first home, and now the school is becoming their next home.  What homes will they have after that?  Stay tuned.

I also did something here I’ve not really done before:  I wrote a small snippet that was so nice that I moved it ahead to another scene.

It's just a few words, but it's a break from habit.

It’s just a few words, but it’s a break from habit.

But the last seen is done.  Now on to the next–

And something else I have to do.

The Future in the Mall

And now we start the dance . . .

This is an important chapter, only in that it’s the heart of the operation I’ve been building up to for the last thirty-five thousand or so words.

See the numbers under "Total Word Count"?  Scrivener and I keep track.

See the numbers under “Total Word Count”? Scrivener and I keep track.

Which means about half of everything I’ve written so far for Act Three (which is now just over sixty-five thousand words) has led to this moment–or should I say, series of moments.  Can’t say how much is gonna get written in the next three scenes, but this chapter will probably take the act over seventy thousand words, and I’m more than certain I’ll end this act somewhere between ninety and one hundred thousand words.  Not quite the length of the other two acts, but you’re still getting a novel out of just this part.

What is happening?  Kids Hanging at the Mall, that’s what.  Only a couple of the kids are there not to window shop, but to keep an eye out for someone important . . .

 

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

Kerry stood to the left side of the main mall entrance watching his tablet display carefully. If he read everything correctly, Tanith was off the bus and walking towards the main entrance—she couldn’t be more than fifteen meters away, and closing. He pressed the bud tightly into his right ear and send out his thought to Annie and Erywin. She’s right outside the entrance; should be here in a few seconds.

He heard Annie’s voice in his head. I see her— Kerry looked up and saw Tanith about to step inside. I’m ready.

Same here. He waited for Tanith to walk by before sliding tablet into his backpack and slinging it over his shoulder. He stayed about four meters behind her, keeping his eyes straight and locked on the back of the girl’s head. He knew Annie was waiting not far from where they ate yesterday, and she’d wait until Tanith was sitting before she’d approach. For now, it was Kerry’s job to watch and keep his distance . . .

Not that there was a chance he’d lose her. Nothing was open yet: most of the stores would open at eleven, but a few of the food places would open in about five minutes. Kerry had confirmed those times last night with everyone before Annie sent off the message to Tanish asking her to meet “Ruth” for an early lunch and some shopping. It was agreed that it was a good idea to get her there early so she’d have to wait, making it easier for Annie to approach and start a conversation, and that was the plan they were following this morning.

 

It’s on, as they say.  Tanith is there and the game’s afoot.  Erywin’s also in the mall, but she’d a floor above and using magic to look through the floor at the action below, and waiting for them to come up to the second floor so they can take the walkway across the street to the park where they’ll give Tanith a little demonstration of their powers.  For all intents and purposes the kids are on their own.  All they have to do, as Kerry thinks at one point, is to get to talk to them.

And that’s where Annie swings into action . . .

"X" marks the spot of the action.

“X” marks the spot of the action.

 

He caught Annie looking in his direction; he nodded, then looked towards Tanith. She nodded then stood. Slowly she walked up behind Tanith as Kerry left his spot and moved towards the two girls. He took a seat a couple of tables away as Annie reached their target . . .

“Excuse me.” Annie stepped around to face Tanith while holding up her phone. “Could you tell me the time: I’m not certain my mobile is working right.”

The young girl looked up at Annie with a puzzled look on her face. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, I’m not certain my time is right.” She nodded towards Tanith’s purse. “Could you check yours and tell me the time?”

Kerry saw Tanith nearly roll here eyes. “Your phone’s picking up the signal from the tower; there’s no way you can set it.”

That was Kerry’s cue to step in. “That’s not really true—” He stood alongside Annie but spoke to Tanith. “Maybe the SIM card is locked on the last time zone it was in.” He’d come up with this bit of technobabble because he figured Tanith wouldn’t know enough to realize if he was BSing her or not. He turned to Annie. “Where did you come from?”

“Boston.”

“Well, that could be it . . .” He turned back to Tanith as he sat in the chair across the aisle from here table. “Could you check your phone?” He set his backpack on the floor next to him.

The girl did roll her eyes this time, but reached into her purse to check here display. “It’s ten-thirty.” She held the display out for Annie to examine. “See?”

“Yes, I do.” Annie checked her own display, then pretended to touch the screen. “Thank you.” She turned to Kerry. “And thank you, too.”

Kerry nodded. “No problem.”

Annie didn’t leave, though. She stood staring at Tanith as if she were seeing her for the first time. “You have a lovely aura.”

Tanith looked like she’d been told there was something hanging out of her nose. “What?”

 

And that’s how you start a conversation:  “My phone is jacked, do you have the time?”  Then someone comes over, talks crap, you get the time, and then–“You have a lovely aura.”  And, of course, the person you’re telling this to is going to be very receptive . . .

 

“You have a lovely aura. It’s becoming brilliant . . .” She lowered her voice as if she were telling a secret. “But you feel that, don’t you?”

Tanith sat back and crossed her arms. “You crazy or somethin’?” She shook her head and looked around Annie. “I’m waitin’ on someone, so if you—”

Kerry cut in on the conversation. “We’ve seen it. We saw it yesterday.” He reached inside his backpack and removed his tablet. “We got it right here.”

Tanith scrunched her brow as she turned to Kerry. “You were doing what?”

He ignored her and addressed Annie instead. “You want to show her?”

Annie didn’t take her eyes off Tanith. “Is it clear?”

Kerry looked about one last time, making sure they weren’t being observed. “Yeah, it is.” He levitated the tablet about five centimeters above his right hand. “Like right now.”

Annie nodded and held her left hand close to her body. The tablet quickly floated from Kerry’s hand to hers; the moment she had it she punched up a picture and turned the display so Tanith could see the image there. “This was you, yesterday. That’s your aura. It’s changing: it’s become like ours.” Annie motioned towards the chair on the other side of the table. “May I sit?” She didn’t wait for a yes or no: she pulled the chair out, sat, and set the tablet upon the table. “Thank you.”

 

That’s Annie for you:  she wants to sit, she sits.  And a little “Float the tablet from one person to another” stuff always works wonders, too–you just have to be certain that no one is watching.  Which is why Kerry was looking around first before kicking that off.  He’s even ready to step in and help explain their actions–

 

Tanith started at this strange girl who had just sat across from her. “Who are you?” She looked down at the tablet. “How did you do that?”

Kerry leaned towards the confused girl and remembered back to his first night at Salem. “It’s a kinda magic.” He smiled and winked at her as Coraline had done with him.

“Yes.” It was time to make their pitch, and Annie knew if they couldn’t pull this off in the next five minutes or less, they’d lose Tanith. “It’s just a small example of what we can do.”

“We?” She turned to Kerry. “You did that, too?”

“Just a little.” He nodded towards Annie. “She did the heavy lifting.”

Tanith chewed on her lower lip for a few seconds before speaking to Annie. “What do you want?”

Annie folded her hands over the tablet. “To show you something.”

“Whaddaya want to show me?”

There was a quick glance towards Kerry, then Annie was completely focused on the emerging witch across from her. “Your future . . .”

 

Do you think Annie tried out cryptic lines on Kerry while they were sitting in bed last night listening to pop music?  That would be an interesting scene to write–assuming, of course, they weren’t talking about things like, “Um, you think we’re gonna have to kill anyone tomorrow, Sweetie?”  “Probably–”  (Gives him a kiss)  “See you in the morning!”  (Snuggle snuggle)  Naw, I think even Annie would be a little bothered by the idea she might have to take out a bad guy in the morning–

Just a little, though.

The next scene, though–it’s going to be interesting.

Team Salem on the Job

First off, happy Winter Solstice to you all.  This is the shortest day of the year, and as I told some friends, it’s all uphill from here until June.  So while I would suggest going out and dancing naked around a tree, if you are of a mind, go out and do something to enjoy the day.  Me . . . I’ll probably stay home and write.

And speaking of writing, I finished up a scene I started last night.  I wanted to get that done before writing this post, and when I was done I checked my word count to see what I’d done this early, chilly morning, and discovered . . .

I don't read anything into this, but I do find it funny I've done this three or four other times.

I never read anything into this, but I do find it funny I’ve done this three or four other times.

So there:  finishing scenes and doing research–did I mention the research?

Yeah, that was last night, and one of the reasons I was a little choppy in my writing last night, because–well, you’ll see in a moment.

The actually moves over to the Crown Center mall now, but in order to get there, Annie has to do something she’s never done before . . .

 

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

Annie was glad to be out of the cold, but in doing so she’d stepped into a world that was far different from what she’d experienced before.

For one, she’d ridden a bus for the first time . . .

Their instructions had been to wait for school to get out, then follow Tanith to the Crown Center mall. Her normal routine was take the public buses to the Center, spend a few hours eating and working on homework if necessary, then taking the bus home. Since Tanith would ride the bus, they would have to ride the bus just so they could keep an eye on her.

Annie had never ridden in a bus in her life. She’d taken the subway in a few cities in here lifetime—she’d loved riding those in Paris and Hong Kong—but busses were something completely foreign to her. She had a pass and had been given instruction about how it was used. Still, it was a new Normal thing, and when it came to trying something new that everyone around was comfortable using . . .

There were no problems, however: Kerry went first, which allowed her to watch him closely. He entered and used his pass as if he’d done this forever, and Annie did exactly as Kerry. They took seats tow rows behind Tanith—Kerry let her sit by the window, which she enjoyed—and they were off to the Center.

They were fortunate that the bus route they were on, the 123, went directly from the school to the Crown Center. They didn’t say much during the trip, just kept their eyes on Tanith and tried to appear as if they fit in with the other riders.

 

Annie’s never ridden a bus.  She’s been on subways, and has probably taken cabs and hired cars–read that as limos–now and then, but this is her first time doing the public transportation thing.  It’s not a big deal for Kerry–he’s probably ridden a bus or two–but whole new thing for our Girl From Pamporovo.

And the bus thing is what held me up last night.  See, everyone thinks I’ve got all my research down pat, but not always.  I’d intended for them to take the bus from Tanith’s school to the mall because that’s what she does, but what bus?  So I had to run out to the website that handles the Kansas City bus schedules, and hunt down the one they’d take from the school and that Tanith would take home.  And what I discovered is Route #123:

Get on this bus, kids.

Get on this bus, kids.

But in finding this route, I discovered that it doesn’t run on the weekends, which sort of threw a curve at my story, because something coming up real soon involves Tanith taking the bus to the mall on the weekends, and if the one that runs by her house doesn’t do the Saturday thing, well, then, I had to find a route–or routes–that did.

I know what some of you are saying:  “Just make it up, Cassie!”  And I could, save I’m dealing with the real world here, and sure as the sun comes up tomorrow–unless it goes supernova tonight, which it can’t, so I’m certain it’ll be up tomorrow–someone would read my made up stuff and go, “That’s not right; in Kansas City–”  Yeah, yeah, I know:  that route doesn’t exist.  I’ll probably get a few like that anyway, but who cares?  I’m in the ball park, and that counts more to me.

So they’re at the mall and things are getting set up . . .

 

Tanith made their operation easy by headed for the Z-teca Restaurant, which offered quick Mexican food, mostly burritos, but tacos and salads were also available. The nicest feature for the place was the majority of the seating was outside the store in the mall concourse. Neither of them wanted too eat much as they were going to dinner after Tanish was back home, so Kerry ordered a couple of tacos for himself, and a salad for Annie, while Annie found a seat where they could watch the concourse and their target.

The phone Annie carried was enchanted so that she could eavesdrop on a person from any distance as long as they were in light of sight. Helena had told them they didn’t expect Tanith to have much to say, but she might receive a call. Annie could also pick up any text message the girl received or sent, as the enchantment could protect on to Annie’s phone whatever Tanith saw on hers.

Kerry’s tablet would allow him to work on Tanith’s aura; he needed nearly twenty seconds with the individual in the tablet camera foci to get an interactive view of their aura. They couldn’t do it while they were invisible, and there were only a few times at school where they could have had a clear view of here as it was. This would be their first chance to get her in the clear, while they were visible, today.

 

Equipment is at the ready, the kids are all set to go.  What happens next?

 

He returned to their table about a minute after Tanith sat at her table and began picking at her quesadilla. “Here ya go, Sis.” He set the salad in front of Annie, giving a wink only she could see.

“Blagodarya vi, moya lyubov.” She figured no one in the mall would know she was saying “Thank you, my love” since she didn’t expect anyone else to understand Bulgarian. She slipped in an earbud as Kerry took his seat across from her so they could mentally speak in private. Did she check her phone when she was ordering?

He almost shook his head out of habit. No. She ordered her food and headed out here. I was right behind her the whole time. He nodded towards the girl sitting a few tables away. She’s checking it now.

Great. Annie held up her phone as if she were trying to get a signal and turned towards Tanith. She was half-turned towards her when Annie launched the enchantment and received a shiver in her right arm as way of letting her know it had taken. Done. Now we can catch her conversations.

Let’s just hope she says something interesting. He reached into his backpack—which he’d brought with him from Salem—and removed the tablet that had been on standby since they’d boarded the bus. No time like now to give her an aura check.

I agree.

 

So the spying begins.  All pretty simple at this point, but do they find anything?

 

Kerry lifted the tablet and pointed it at Annie. “Here, let me get your good side.” He positioned himself so that Tanith was behind Annie and he had a clear line of sight on her. He activated the enchantment and then pretended to so something else on the display. “Just a minute; the app is being difficult.”

“Okay.” Annie knew there wasn’t anything wrong with the app, and that Kerry was simply stalling so he could give the enchantment time to work.

A few seconds later he set the tablet on the table and removed the kickstand from his backpack. I should have done this . . . He attached it to the back of the tablet and kept it turned towards Tanith. He waved Annie over. “Here you go; take a look.”

Annie scooted around the table so she was on Kerry’s left. She scanned the display. “Looks good.” She offered another opinion to him silently. You’re going to scan her constantly?

I don’t see why not; this way we can get the best reading yet. He pointed at the display. Is that reading right, you think?

I think it’s reading perfectly. Tanith’s area, seen in real time, was a yellow wavering back and forth before Normal dullness and Awareness bright. She’s on the cusp; she’s becoming Aware.

 

There you have it:  All in All, Just Another Witch in the Mall–sorry, I had to do that.  Now that they’re watching her, time to get the other player in on the show . . .

 

Yeah, that’s what it looks like. Kerry tapped his right earbud twice to bring in the other two witches on watch. Yo, Mom.

Erwin’s thought came across loud and clear. Is that a proper way to address your loving mother, young man?

Sorry, I thought you were my real mom for a second. He flashed a smile at Annie then continued. We have a positive aura here.

You’re certain?

Annie chimed in. I’m looking at the display, too . . . Moma Phoebe. She grinned knowing how much Erywin hated her code name. Tanith is definitely on the cusp.

 

You gotta love the banter between everyone, and wonder if Erywin’s gonna get called “Phoebe” now and then back at the school.  Probably not, ’cause that would blow whatever cover they have going back at Salem and make other students wonder why they’re referring to the Magical Formula instructor by the name of a spacey blond from the show Friends.

Now they know this is happening, and everyone wants to talk . . .

 

Helena joined the conversation. How are you observing her?

I’ve got the tablet on a kickstand. Kerry touched the tablet and turned it slightly as another girl about Tanith’s age sat at her table. I’m doing a constant scan.

Annie removed her phone from her jacket. I’m monitoring her conversations, too. We should start getting something because someone just sat with her.

Who?

Girl about her age. She just sat and . . . Annie caught Kerry’s sharp intake of breath and turned to him. What is it?

He nodded at the display. Look.

Annie did and swallowed hard when she saw what he’d seen. Mom?

Helena’s tone of concern carried through her thoughts. What?

We have something here we weren’t expecting . . .

 

What?  Not expecting what?  Lizard people?  A transdimensional portal?  A thirty percent off sale at Forever 21?

You guys can make your own guesses . . . and I’m certain you will.

Champagne Dreams

Yes, the post is getting out a little late this morning, but only because I just finished writing fourteen hundred words to finish up a scene I started last night.  And seeing how I said yesterday that it’s one with Annie and Kerry, some of you are probably wondering about the title of the post.  Trust me, they’re not getting hammered on Korbel when they should be spying on Tanith.  The title refers to something else.  But of course it does.

We jump ahead a few hours and we’re outside Tanith’s school.  Someone else is there, too . . .

 

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

Kerry sat with his back against the tree truck, keeping it between him and the steady wind coming out of the north. He’d pulled up his hood and keep his hands in his pockets trying to remain comfortable, and found he was succeeding marvelously. Once more he was happy he’d packed the microfleece hoodie his grandparent gave him for Christmas, because not only was it warm, but it had enough internal pockets to hold some of the devices he was using for this operation.

He was sitting on the front lawn of Lincoln Preparatory Academy waiting for his partner in crime to join him outside. While he’d waited for a delivery from Erywin, Annie was busy following Tanith and waiting for the right moment to secure another tag on her so she’d be easier to track with his tablet. She’d said she’d likely have an easier time of placing a tag on her, and he didn’t disagree: after all, if Tanith noticed a boy following her—tagging her with an enchantment wasn’t something they could do while bending light around them, not yet—she’d probably think it a little strange.

So he went outside to wait for his phony mother while also waiting for his real girlfriend . . .

 

The thing that comes from this is there’s a lot of waiting going on.  That’s the spy business for you:  a day’s worth of boredom sometimes punctuated by a few seconds of terror.  But the terror part’s the one that everyone likes, right?  Well, only if you’re the reader . . .

And what about that real girlfriend?

 

“Miss me?”

He turned to his left and watched Annie fade into view as her light bending field merged with his. “I was counting the seconds.” He patted the ground to his left and waited for her to get comfortable. “You have any problem tagging her?”

“No.” Annie partially unzipped her jacket and removed the light scarf around her neck. “I followed her into the bathroom and put it on her there.”

“The girl’s bathroom.” He chuckled. “The one place I can’t go.”

“It’s not that great.” She stretched out her legs. “Most girl’s bathrooms aren’t nice.”

“It’s not much better with the boy’s bathrooms, trust me. The only nice one I’ve seen is back at our school.”

Annie nodded. “I agree.” She nodded at the bag on Kerry’s right. “Lunch?”

“Yeah.” He set it in his lap. “Mom brought it about ten minutes ago.” Kerry stayed with the code names and pronouns assigned as they’d been told. He reached in the bag and removed a wrapped sandwich. “Lean roast beef with lettuce and onion—and a touch of horseradish—on rye.” He handed it to Annie. “Oh—” He removed another item. “And a dill pickle. Just as you ordered.”

“Thank you.” She partially unwrapped the sandwich and breathed in the aroma. “Lovely. What did you get?”

“Turkey with lettuce and onion—and a touch of mayo—on sourdough.” He removed a smaller bag from the larger one. “With a side of potato chips.”

“Not regular chips?”

“I will admit they do chips up better in Cardiff than they do in the States, so I passed.” He pealed open the wrapping and took a quick bite of his lunch. “Not bad.”

“Mine’s good, too.” She removed her pickle from the plastic wrap it came in and nibbled. “Though the school makes them better.”

“They do have an advantage other places don’t.”

 

In case you were wondering, lunch is served right under that tree.

In case you were wondering, lunch is served right under that tree.

The one thing to take away is if your girlfriend likes onions, you better have them, too, otherwise you’re gonna smell it on her all day.  And Kerry loves that turkey, it seems.  So, once more, they are enjoying a nice lunch together on a chilly day, only this time they’re invisible under a tree in Kansas City instead of sitting out in the open on a bench in a park in Salem.  They love their lunches together, and the discussions that come with them . . .

And their discussion this time was a bit about romance.  Annie talks about the things she’s seen her parents do–little touches, kisses, terms of endearment–and she tells Kerry that romance in a relationship is important.  It’s also noted that Kerry’s seen none of that behavior in his parents, and why am I not surprised?  Annie attributes part of his wanting affection to having spent a little of his life growing up around her, and there is probably some truth in that:  he felt her love early on, and his soul cried out for whatever she radiated.  Annie comes right out and tells Kerry the truth:

 

Annie stopped him abruptly. “You’re not your parents; not in any way. You want affection—maybe that’s because you grew up, in a way, around me and you felt what I felt.” She lay her head against his shoulder for a few seconds. “I couldn’t be with you if you were like your parents. It would kill me.”

“I know. I think that’s what the girl in my rune dream was telling me.” He rested his head against hers for a moment before sitting up straight. They both finished their lunches in silence after a few minutes.

 

Pretty harsh, soul mate, but a whole lot of truth there.  And as Kerry says, it’s what the girl in his dream was trying to tell him:  he couldn’t be cold to Annie, she would hate it, and he had to open his heart to her in order to make her happy.  Smart girl, whomever she was.

They discuss a bit of the dream from the night before, and it’s obvious that Kerry is done California Dreamin’.  They both come to the conclusion that it wasn’t so much the home that Kerry was attached to as it was the personal items he left behind.  There was love in the memories those things brought, and when he left them behind, he left behind those memories.  But the home–screw that.  He knows it wasn’t a home, not based upon the definition that Annie gave him.

And that’s when Annie begins the reminiscing . . .

 

Annie took Kerry’s hand in hers and held it tight. “About a month before my eighth birthday my mother and I went away to a house her parents own just outside Pocancy, France. That’s in the Champagne region—do you know it?”

“I know of it. It’s like north-east France, right?”

“Yes. Beautiful country: lots of low rolling hills and fields and wooded areas. My grandparents have had that house there since the 1950s, I believe.”

“Why did you go there?”

“My mother had spent the summer on a project and she wanted to get away and rest.” She cuddled up against Kerry. “We spent three weeks there, with my father popping in every so often when he wasn’t testing or racing.” She smiled as the memories came back to her. “Every other day my mother and I went bicycling.”

“You did?”

“Yes. We’d ride maybe ten, twelve kilometers, stay out all day. That was how I got to see so much of the surrounding area.”

Kerry squeezed Annie’s hand. “Sounds wonderful, Sweetie.”

“It was.” She paused just a moment before telling him the rest. “I’d love to live there one day.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I have it written in my wedding book. A little château, walled off, with a garden in the back where I can grow vegetables and herbs. Maybe a small house in the back where I can have a lab like my mother’s.”

Kerry turned to Annie, a huge smile upon his face. “You have it all thought out.”

“Yes, I do.”

 

Leave it to Annie:  she knows what she wants, and she writes it down so she doesn’t forget.  And once it’s down in her wedding book, well, hell, it may as well be set in stone.  And since this was right before she turned eight, she was already in love with her Ginger Hair Boy, so you can imagine she was probably imagining him as the Master of the House.

Maybe right close to where the grandparents live.

Maybe it’ll be right close to where the grandparents live.

She adds something else in, which Kerry catches right away:

 

“What about your lake house?”

“Oh, I’ll always have my lake house; it’s not going anywhere.” She turned and gazed into Kerry’s eyes. “That will always be there for me to us, and once we learn how to jaunt, it won’t matter where we live, we can go there for a night or a weekend and get away from everything, just rest and relax and . . .” She pressed her cheek into Kerry’s arm. “Do whatever we like.”

He didn’t need to have “whatever we like” spelled out for him; Kerry’s suspicion was that it had something to do with what they’d already seen in their wedding vision. “You just said something telling—”

“What’s that?”

“You said ‘we’. When ‘we’ learn to jaunt ‘we’ can go there no matter where ‘we’ live.”

She lowered her head slightly and looked up at him. “Does that bother you?”

He shook his head once. “No.”

“Good. Because given what we’ve seen—given the possibility that it’s going to be true—my lake house will be your lake house one day.” She gave him a quick kiss. “And my house, wherever I live, will be yours as well.”

“A little château in France?”

“That’s one possibility.”

 

What’s mine is yours, Kerry, and she isn’t hiding it.  She knows their future together is possible, and she’s going with that.  There’s also the “whatever we like” line which Kerry gloams upon right away.  It’s an unfortunate fact that they both saw something that should have remained imagined for some time, and that will have an effect on them as time moves forward.  Annie could be talking about getting the Monopoly game out and spending the evening trying to force Kerry into declaring bankruptcy, but I’m gonna say she’s got something else in mind.

Kerry’s imagining something as well–

 

Kerry slipped his hand out of Annie’s and wrapped his arm around her. “I’m thinking . . .”

“Yes?”

“One day I’d like to wake up early and get the bikes out, and ride into the nearest town. Find a small cafe and sit and have breakfast—”

“Alone?”

“No.” He pulled Annie against him. “I’d do this with the person I love.”

She chuckled. “Anyone I know?”

“You do: she’s right next to me.”

Annie closed her eyes so she could visualize Kerry’s words. “What happens after that?”

“Well, we spend a couple of hours eating and talking before getting on our bikes and heading off—maybe riding to the next town, or two towns over, or maybe even another beyond that. Then we buy some things for lunch—bread, meat, cheese—”

“And a little wine.”

“Have to do that if we’re in France . . . We take that and find a nice, shady place on the side of the road, and have a picnic. Eat, relax, enjoy the weather.”

“Sounds wonderful.”

“It would be. And when we’re done, we bike home, take a nap—’cause we’re gonna be tired—and then clean up and get ready for dinner. And if we are in France, and we can jaunt, there are so many places where we could dine.”

Annie saw all this in her mind’s eye: the riding, the picnic, resting at home, getting dressed and going out . . . “And is there anything after that?”

“Sure we go home, or . . . we go to our lake house where we rest, relax . . .” He kissed her on the cheek. “Do whatever we like.”

 

He’s going with the idea that perhaps their future together is in somewhere in Europe–maybe a walled château in France–and that they’ll have access to their lake house whenever they need to get away.  And Kerry’s words have an affect upon Annie–

 

Annie heart raced as Kerry’s ideas for their day together came together in her head and the images became real. She so wanted to speak his name right now, but knew she couldn’t, that even though the odds they were being watched were small, she didn’t want to go against the instructions that Helena gave them this morning.

She half-unzipped her jacket, then took his hand and held it against her chest. “Do you feel that?”

Kerry sighed. “Yeah, I do.”

She pressed their hands into her shirt. “That will happen one day. I promise.”

He said nothing for a few seconds. “No, you won’t.”

Annie turned her hand and gave him a shocked look. “What do you mean?”

“It’s not yours to promise.” He smiled. “It’s mine.” He quickly kissed her on the lips. “And one day that will happen. I promise.”

She had agreed last night they wouldn’t think about a future wedding, that they wouldn’t discuss the mater out of fear they would destroy the possibility of it occurring. But after hearing this, Annie could do nothing but hope and wish that their visions come true. “I’m going to hold you to that promise, my love.”

Kerry did his best to ignore his own racing heart, if only to keep the emotions running through is mind out of his voice. “I’d expect nothing less, Sweetie.”

 

Racing hearts and emotions.  I think the next novel will end up titled B for Because Hormones Are Out of Control, as that’s going to be a problem by next year.  Or will it?  Because there are probably more than a few magical ways to keep these kids from getting too carried away.

Then again, I know things about that story, and . . . I can’t say.  I’m a stinker, I know.  And until I write it down in a story anything I say makes me an unreliable narrator, because I don’t want to tell you too much of their future.

But we know now:  Annie wants a future in France.  And Kerry can see them sharing it.

Pretty nice deal coming out of a spy operation, wouldn’t you say?

At the Intersection of Tenderness and Concern

Here’s it is, early morning outside The Burg, and I just finished a scene and I’m hard at work getting this out.  I didn’t get a lot of writing done yesterday, because I spent five hours at the salon having my nails and brows done, and let me tell you, doing the whole manicure/pedicure/brow wax thing is a thing of beauty.  It leaves you feeling a lot better about yourself, though you’re usually ready for a nap once you get home.  Which I did.  Then I got up and turned on My Fair Lady and got about nine hundred words into the scene before I needed to crawl off to bed.

New brows; new nails; Sexy Rexy being a douche.  It's time to write witchy maheym.

New brows; new nails; Sexy Rexy being a douche to Eliza. It’s time to write witchy mayhem.

The focus of this scene turns not to Annie and Kerry, but to Helena and Erywin, who are off in their own room while the kids are camped out in theirs.  They have things to discuss, and not all of them are mission related.  In fact, there is going to be a “what the hell is that?” moment here early on in the scene, so be ready.

How does this start?  Like this:

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

Erywin watched as Helena emerged from the bathroom and made her way across the bedroom wearing the nightgown she’d given as a present this last Yule holiday. A lovely cream color, the gown dropped to her knees so she could move without hindrance, while the top was low cut front and back and held upon her shoulders with spaghetti straps. Erywin had picked out the gown because of the way it showed off the ta moko on Helena’s shoulders, upper arms, and back.

She’d always found Helena’s ta moko fascinating. She still remembered the first time she’d seen it: the night the bonfires were lit for Beltain. Though there had been plenty of opportunity through their first year together to run off and hide and “show themselves” to each other, they’d stayed up until 23:30 to watch the lighting of the bonfires, and on their walk back to The Pentagram Helena pulled Erywin into a small clearing just off the main path from the Flight School and said that she wanted to let her see something before everyone else saw them tomorrow night . . .

Naughty girls:  showing off native markings at twelve.  And the line there about letting Erywin see something before everyone else saw them tomorrow night–yes, that gets explained, but not for another two novels.  Yes, I suck.  But you love it.

This, however, leads up to something a little unexpected, so I’ll just let the scene speak for itself:

As Helena turned around the foot of the bed and Erywin, who knew her partner’s moods, saw the wince cross her face just before she set on the edge of the bed. She reached over and touched the sorceress’ back. “Are you all right?”

Helena sighed. “I’m fine.” Though she tried hard to mask her tone, the weariness in her voice came through.

Erywin slid across the bed and sat to her love’s left. “You don’t sound fine.” She bent forward a little and saw the pained looked on Helena’s face. “You’re hurting.”

“Not more than I have before.” Helena rolled up the heme of night gown, exposing her thighs. She ran her fingers across her thighs as she released the enchantments and winced once again as the nerve endings tried to compensate for of the sudden lack of sensation.

Before Helena could act Erywin was off the bed and half-knelling before her partner. “Sit back and let me—” She gently removed the right leg from Helena’s thigh and set it against the wall, then did the same with the left. Erywin laid her hands against the remains of Helena’s legs and crafted a soothing spell she’d learn long ago. “Better?”

Helena nodded. “Much.”

Erywin pulled down the nightgown, draping it over the truncated thighs. “Cuddle?”

Helena flashed her warmest smile. “Yes.” She pushed herself back against her pillow while Erywin retook her place on the bed, softly settled Helena against her body, and wrapped her right arm around her partner’s waist.

Neither spoke for almost five minutes while Erywin’s left hand lightly touched Helena, bringing her comfort and protection. When she found it necessary to speak, Erywin only wanted to confirm what she already knew. “Phantom pain?”

“Yes.” Helena folded her hands across her lap and continued to enjoy the attention. “A little worse than usual, but nothing I haven’t felt before.”

“You should go to have your legs regenerated.” Erywin pressed her face against Helena’s newly cleaned hair and breathed in her scent. “You’ve promised me for the last four years you’d get it done.”

Helena knew she wasn’t going to get out of this conversation easily. “I know.”

When I started designing Helena a long time ago–really, way back in 2011–I’d decided then that she’d find herself involved in a horrible situation that would result in a life-changing event.  I’ve hinted at the event at the end of Act One, though I’m not sure I posted that moment as an excerpt.  I’ve also left a few clues that there was something different with Helena’s legs:  she always wore pants, she was never seen running, and the one time she wore a skirt, some observant geek kid remarked that it seemed a little longer than it should be.

Now everyone knows The Mistress of All Things Dark;  she’s a double amputee, and it’s only through a combination of magic and technology that she can walk.  The event that caused her to become this way will get explained in this novel, even in this part.  I wouldn’t leave people hanging.

There’s a slight discussion about a medical procedure that Helena has promised herself for years but never gotten around to doing, and then Erywin gets into the reasons for the pain:

Erywin stroked Helena’s hair. “So tell me, my pretty girl, why the pain? What has you bothered?”

“What makes you think I’m bothered?” She looked out the window and took in the city. “Do I look bovvered?”

“I’d have to see your face.” Erywin chuckled as she hugged Helena. “But something is bothering you; that’s the only time you get phantom pains, when something is bothering you. And it’s been bothering you for the last month.”

Helena saw no point of hiding her concerns now. “The operation. I always worry when I’m on one.”

We also pick up in the last part here that both Erywin and Helena are fans of Lauren Cooper.  I’ll leave that to you to look up.  But what is wrong with the operation?  What has Helena bovvered?

“I thought there wasn’t anything unusual about this one.” A slight worry began playing inside Erywin.

“There isn’t. But even after I’ve read every report, covered every contingency, thought of every possible problem, I continue to wonder if I’ve missed something.” She slowly shook her head. “Everything is a knowable unknown: the people we’re observing, the location, even us.” Helena turned her face upwards toward Erywin’s. “We’re the biggest knowable unknowns.”

“Because three of us are new at this?” This continued to be Erywin’s biggest fear, that her complete lack of experience was going to hinder the operation.

“I’m new at this as well; I’ve never had to handle two A Levels in the field before. It’s not just everyone else.”

“Then?”

“It’s wondering how we’re going to do as a team if things go tits up and we find ourselves deep in the shite.” Helena clutched Erywin’s hand. “That’s the greatest knowable unknown of them all.” She cut off Erywin before she denigrate herself and her abilities further. “You were at the heart of The Scouring at the school, and you were Vicky’s second on patrol and air assault during the Day of the Dead: don’t tell me you can’t do this.”

If there’s one thing that Erywin keeps ignoring, it’s just how bad ass she can get when duty calls.  During the Scouring she zapped her fair share of bad guys, and you can bet she was zipping around the school during the Day of the Dead killing Deconstructors and Abominations alike with that big gun she turned on Wednesday.  She might not be the sorceress her life partner is, but don’t cross her; she’d probably do you in without a second thought.

That leaves just one last thing–well, two actually:

“Yeah.” Erywin lightly ran her fingers over the ridges of Helena’s ta moko. “That leaves those two in the other room. Any concerns there?”

“Only one.”

“And that is?”

“Hoping they can handle what comes after if we have to turn them loose.” Helena lay back as far as she could and stared at the ceiling. “Everything else is secondary.”

What does Helena mean by “turn them loose”?  Are they going to be in a Loverboy video?  Far from it . . .  I think you know what she means, so no need to elaborate.

Up next:  We switch over to the other room, and see if Annie is still wearing the pants in this relationship . . .

Welcome to the Hotel Kansas Witchy

I am finally into the part of the story were we are all out of the school, at least for the weekend, and it’s not a holiday.  It’s Spying Time, and my kids are all ready–well, as ready as they’re going to be.  On the way over to Panera this morning I kept thinking of a good title for this post, and I finally fell on a variation of “Welcome to the Hotel California,” which, if you sing this title out, matching the syllables and time signature perfectly.  And now, when you re-read the title–which I know you’re doing right now–you’re singing it out in your head.

My ladies, and one guy, are doing what everyone does:  they’re getting into their rooms.  Of course, when the leader of your group is a slightly paranoid sorceress, things are done a little differently.

 

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

They entered the hotel room silently, as Helena had instructed them while they were in the elevator on the way up to the floor. Helena looked about the suite—a closet; a doorway to the left and another to the right; a sofa, love seat, table, and television at the far end—then pointed at Erywin before pointing at the door on the right. She raised her hands and initiated the spell as Erywin opened the other door, entered the adjoining room, and initiated her own spell.

A grayness swept along the walls and ceiling, hugging it, touching it, slowly caressing it. It moved over the wall to the left, the wall at the far end of the room, then over to the wall on the right before slipping up to the ceiling. It hovered against the ceiling for almost five seconds before fading into nothingness.

Erywin stepped out of the adjoining room and gave Helena a quizzical look. Helena nodded towards the door to her left. “This room’s clean: let’s check the other.” They entered the room, leaving Annie and Kerry behind.

A minute later they returned. “Both are clean; we can talk.”

Anne pushed here roller bag against the wall. “You were checking for listening devices, weren’t you?”

“Yes.” Helena set her luggage and briefcase next to the door leading to the other room.

Kerry found the situation a bit curious. “Who’s bugging the room?”

“The Foundation.”

“Really?”

Helena peeked into the other room. “Sure. We’re a new team out on a field operation, and there are nosy people in the Guardians who want to make certain we’re doing all the right things.”

 

Nice to know The Foundation–really, the Guardians–might be listening in on you.  But there’s a reason Helena suspects this:

 

Annie, on the other hand, understand this world better. She addressed Helena. “You’ve put in listening devices, having you?”

“And enchantments that do the same thing. How do you think I knew what to look for?” She turned to Erywin, who was looking out the window. “Nice view?”

“I can see the Center—” She pointed at something outside to her right. ”Just across the street.”

“Which is where we want to be.” Helena moved to the center of the room and looked about. “Not bad for an executive suite. Then again, The Foundation is paying the bill, so why not give us something nice?”

 

Yep, let’s do a little spying on people, because someone’s gotta watch the watchmen.  Also, now would be a good time to show everyone where the action is taking place.  First, there’s the Crown Center in downtown Kansas City:

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

The scene of the crime, so to speak.

The center is also the location of the mall where the girl they are watching, Tanith, goes and hangs; on the picture above, it’s right where it says, “Crown Center Ice Terrace”.  The hotel where everyone is staying, the Sheraton Crown Center Kansas City, is the building in the upper right hand corner with the circle on top, which is actually the restaurant and lounge.  Here’s a better picture:

Hey, I can see Erywin in the window!

Hey, I can see Erywin in the window!

We can figure out from Erywin’s view that they are on the south side of the building, and probably high up, because they have nice rooms . . .

 

“It is pretty good.” Kerry stepped over to the door leading to the room next door and looked in. “The other room is just like this?”

“Yes: I asked for adjoining suites.” Helena snapped her fingers to gain the children’s attention. “This is the living area, as you can see. Main closet is right there—” She pointed to the area next to where Annie stood. “Through this other door is the sleeping area, with a king-sized bed and another television, and the bathroom.

“Here’s the plan for this evening. We’re going to leave for dinner in about an hour. I know you’re both hungry, but we’re in a different time zone here and we don’t want to make it look like we’ve just gained an hour. The restaurant is close by and is affiliated with The Foundation, so we’ll have a nice table off to the side where no one can listen in on us, so we’ll be able to discuss our plans for tomorrow without fear.”

Helena on the arm of the sofa where Erywin was already resting. “In the morning we’ll dine in the restaurant downstairs before heading out. I want to give the impression we’re a family, and dining in the open with others is the best way to do so.” She crossed here arms. “We’ll stick to the same morning schedule here as we have Salem: up early, down for breakfast by seven. And keep in mid we’re not adjusting for time, so plan on being up before the alarm and heading off to bed a little early. Ker—” She caught herself and smiled. “I mean, ‘Gavin’, I know you have your phone, so set the alarm for five-thirty.”

 

I’ve actually stayed in a suite like this in the Sheraton Kowloon during one of my visits to Hong Kong, and they are nice.  And they have joining rooms, which is a nice deal–in fact, in some hotels you can get three of them side by side and actually use the room in middle for your entrance.

And about that “Gavin”; that’s the first code name you find out they’re using.  But if I’m gonna tell one, I have to tell them all . . .

 

Kerry grimaced after hearing his phony name. “I really hate that name—Auntie Brenda.”

Erywin snorted. “I’m Phoebe: would you like to get stuck with that?”

Annie decided to join the name game. “I’m Nadya. I knew a girl at my private school named Nadya: she was a snooty little Normal bitch.”

This argument was one they’d already had, and Helena wasn’t about to go over it again. “Take it up with San Francisco: they picked the names.” She stood, dropping her hands to her sides. “Let’s unpack, change if you feel the need, and get ready for dinner.”

 

There you have it:

 

Annie = Nadya

Kerry = Gavin

Helena = Brenda

Erywin = Phoebe

 

And there you have it.  Do you think Kerry will tease Annie about having the name of a snooty little Normal bitch?  Not if he knows what’s good for him.

This brings up something that was likely on Kerry’s mind since walking in the door of the joint:  sleeping arrangements.  Being the only dude in the group it does bring up the question, “Where do I camp out for the evening?”

 

Kerry lay a hand on the handle of his travel bag. “So where are we sleeping—” He couldn’t help but grin. “Mom?”

Erywin pointed to the open door to his left. “Your room is in there.”

“Cool.” He glanced into the room. “You want me sleeping on the bed, or the sofa?”

Erywin stood next to her luggage. “Doesn’t matter to me; you can sleep where you want.”

Kerry was about to ask where Erywin was going to sleep when Annie was next to him, touching his arm. “Dear, she means that’s our room.”

“There are times when your significant other is far smarter than you, Clever Boy.” Helena indicated the bedroom behind her. “Adults are in here, and children—” She pointed to the open doorway behind Annie and Kerry. “—are in there.” She tilted her head slightly to the left. “Unless there’s a reason you two can’t be trusted alone for the evening.”

Annie glommed onto Kerry’s arm. “No, ‘Mama’. You can trust us.”

“Good. Here are the rules: that door stays closed when we are separated. If you want to come in and speak to us, knock and we’ll answer. Same goes for you: we’ll knock and wait for you to let us in—”

“However, if you don’t open the door—” Erywin smirked. “—we might have to come in and see if you need . . . assistance.”

Helena nodded. “Don’t leave by way of your hallway door; all comings and goings are through our door. Oh, and if you feel the need to raid the mini bar go ahead: someone else is paying the bill.” She held up an admonishing finger. “No room service. If you want something, let us know.” She waved them away. “Okay, go unpack and get ready. We’ll let you know when we’re ready to go.”

 

Helena–I mean, Auntie Brenda–is being pretty trusting letting the kids share the same room, what with those visions of wedding nights they’ve seen and the raging hormones they both have.  But, I mean, come on:  Erywin and Kerry sharing a room?  Not gonna happen.  And they would probably be a battle if Helena and Annie were sleeping together . . .  At this place and time Helena is quite aware that these two sack out during the Midnight Madness all the time, and chances are she’s aware they’ve spent a night or two–or more–down on the commons sofa.

Beside, if you don’t think Helena doesn’t have a spell up her sleeve that would keep them apart, you don’t know her like I do.  And seeing as how I created here, you don’t know her like I do.

The kids will be fine.  I mean, there are separate sleeping arrangements in these suites–

 

Kerry followed Annie into the other room and closed the door behind him. He scanned the living area of the identical suite, but said nothing for a few seconds as he considered his next words. “Well, um, I could—”

Annie turned her head and gave Kerry her best cold stare. “If you are even considering the idea the sleeping on the sofa, I won’t speak to you for the rest of the weekend.” She walked smartly towards the bedroom entrance and stopped just before heading inside. “Come along, my love: let’s unpack and get ready dinner.”

Kerry closed his eyes as he shook his head as little as possible as a huge grin spread across his face. “Coming, Sweetie.”

 

And . . . you can forget about that sofa, Captain Clueless.  What Annie wants, Annie gets, and what she wants is for you to be sleeping right next to her.

Why, it’s almost like being married . . .

Westbound Witches

As I like to say, Chapter Thirty-Four and Part Eleven are history.  Both were finished last night after completing a short scene which did little more than wrap up what has so far happened with the kids up through the month of April.  They are, as the title of this post says, westbound.

And in the process of them leaving, we learn a few things:

 

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

Erywin entered the Witch House classroom as the last of the A Level students were streaming out with unhappy looks upon their faces. She waited until she was within whisper distance of Helena. “I sense a bit of disappointment among the children.”

“Today we were working on Minor Spell Shields today.” Helena looked up from her tablet. “We’re been working on it the last two weeks, and I thought today was time to give everyone a bit of a challenge . . .”

Erywin picked up the hint of mischief in her partner’s voice. “What did you do?”

“Oh, I had someone who could use Air Hammer use that against the others.” She quietly cleared her throat. “Did I say ‘someone’? I meant to say, ‘someones’.”

It wasn’t difficult for Erywin to pick up the meaning of the last statement. “You didn’t.”

“Oh, I did.” Helena shrugged. “They’d figured out the spell right away, and I figured they needed a little experience controlling their Air Hammers so they didn’t kill anyone.”

“But was anyone sent to the hospital?”

“No, but the nurse needed to tend to a few of the students who didn’t bother to learn the spell correctly—or take their opponents seriously.”

 

So Helena is taking her two best and letting them “help her out” in class.  How did that work out?

 

The expression forming upon Erywin’s face revealed her feelings. “I don’t understand that last. They’ve been able to do Air Hammer since the second month here.”

“I know. And Ramona has been working with them off and on since November to learn how to control it better.” Helena chuckled. “There were a few interesting moments—”

“Oh?” Erywin’s right eyebrow shot upward. “How so?”

“I paired Emma against Annie, and I thought Emma was going to run the moment she saw Annie preparing the spell.”

“Really.” Erywin tried not to seem too surprised, but she’d heard part of a tale from Coraline—told in confidentiality, of course—that Annie and Emma, as Coraline put it, “had words” in the triage center after the later’s life was saved by Kerry. “And the other interesting moments?”

“I pared Kerry with Lisa.”

“And Lisa is still with us?”

“Oh, yes. He took it easy with her.” The sorceress glanced at Erywin out of the corner of her eye. “Though he may have knocked here off her feet at the end. Not to mention . . .”

 

Being one of the people who help other people–as well as having to keep a lot of secrets–we already know that Erywin, Coraline, and even Deanna, chat among themselves about some of the students.  Annie’s . . . “action” against Emma was obviously something that Coraline mentioned to the other counselors, if for no other reason than to have them keep an eye out when those two were together.  “Had words”–but of course they did!  Where those words, “Oh, damn, I’m bleeding!”

And what is this thing you are going to mention, Helena?

 

Helena waved the classroom door shut so she could be completely alone with Erywin. “I’ve been showing Annie how to use dark energy with some spells, and had her show it to Kerry.”

“When did you start doing that?” Erywin had learned some time before that Helena was aware of Annie showing Kerry the things she was learning on the side at the Witch House, but this was the first time she’d known of Annie being told to show a sorcery spell to Kerry.

“I few months ago. She already knew how to combine dark energy with normal spells, so I asked her to start showing Kerry.” Helena packed here tablet away in her case. “He could have use that against that Abomination back in November.”

Erywin nodded slowly. “You’re right. I just hope . . .”

Helena felt her partner’s hope taking up space in the classroom. “Don’t worry: we’ll be fine.”

“I still worry.” She looked towards Helena’s office. “Where are they?”

“In the restrooms changing. I didn’t want them heading back to their tower. The less time out in the pubic view—Ah—” Helena looked up as the door opened and Annie walked in with Kerry behind her, both of them attired in their normal clothes. “Go ahead and lay your uniforms across your desks; housekeeping will be along later to get them back to your rooms.”

 

Nice to know that Helena is finally admitting that Annie has been showing things to Kerry, but this is the first time she’s mentioned that she told the girl to take something she was shown and mentor him.  Why is she doing this?  Oh, there’s a reason, I assure you.  You’ll just have to wait and see what it is.

So this is the old and the new–

And inching even closer to the end.

Which is inching even closer to the end.

–And I’ve made some changes to Chapter Thirty-Five, namely I’ve added two scenes and changed the names of the existing two scenes.  This part was one that when I plotted it out over a year ago I had the meta idea in place, but I wasn’t quiet sure of the detail.  Now I have the detail, for in the last month I’ve really worked out everything, so I know what’s going to happen.  In fact, there’s one part in particular which I was able to finally figure out every little thing, and all that remains is to set up the plotting.  And to check and make sure the time line is right.

And there are a couple of big reveals coming up in this new chapter.  I guaranty it.