The Final Days and Nights: Summertime, and the Visits Are Easy

So, writing.  Yes, I did it.  Not as much as the two days before, but some of that was due in part to writing a two thousand word recap a few hours before, and that tends to drain me.  The good news is I only have one more Monday night recap to do and then I can sort of take the summer off.

Though, you know, I’m not sure what that means.  Take a summer off and do nothing?  I don’t know if I can handle that.

So what happens in the next five hundred words?  Plans, that’s what.

 

This excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Jairo shook his head. “That would never happen. You guys have been too much fun; we’ve enjoyed hanging with you.”

Kerry ran his finger around the rim of his mug. “We’ve enjoyed hanging with you guys as well.”

Penny pointed a finger at him. “I hope you won’t forget we got a lunch meet up this summer.”

He nodded. “How could I forget?” Penny had approached them both at the Midnight Madness the night of his birthday, with Alex, Jairo, and Kahoku in tow. Not only did they all want to wish Kerry a happy birthday, but Penny wanted to set up a lunch date between Kerry and her, as they were both in the UK and could fly to just about any location in the country. Penny also made it clear that she wanted Annie to know about the invite, and that she knew if Kerry were to ask her about getting together for lunch over the summer, he’d do so with Annie and Jairo present. “Just text me whenever you feel like meeting.”

“Which reminds me—” Alex turned to Annie. “Would you object to getting together over the summer? I’d love a lunch date with someone from school.” She looked around the table. “It was hard to do so last year, and may be difficult for Kaho this year. I thought it might not be a problem for you, though.”

Annie actually felt honored that a friend other than Kerry would asking about meeting over the summer. “I’d love to, Alex. I think it’d be fun.” Annie gave the matter a moment of thought. “Could you fly to Kiev? We could met there.”

Kahoku nervously coughed. “Or are you—?”

“Say that word and die.” Alex rolled her eyes as she glanced at her boyfriend. “Durnyy, bozhevilʹnyy khlopchyk.” She turned back to Annie, a slight grin playing upon her face. “Sure, I can do that. Dubno’s only three hundred kilometers away; I can make that in an hour.”

 

So there you have it:  at least once during the summer Kerry and Alex are going to get together for a lunch date–one where Annie was present when the asking was done, ’cause one girlfriend is respecting the personal space of another–but Annie’s gonna leave the mountains behind for a day and meet up with Alex.  The kids are getting out next summer, and not just to meet with each other–yes, that’s gonna get mentioned later in one of these last two chapters.  Even though they can’t be together all the time, they’re gonna meet for lunch.

Annie picks Kiev because not only is it in the Ukraine where Alex lives, but it’s likely easier for Annie to jaunt over a thousand kilometers than it is for Alex to do the same.  Alex can hop on her broom and jet across the country to get to her destination–

Three hundred thirty-four kilometers, no waiting.

Three hundred thirty-four kilometers, no waiting.

Whereas Annie needs her mom to jaunt her to the Sofia airport so she can take the jaunt station to the main train station in Kiev.

"Don't worry, Mama:  I'll call when I'm though visiting another country."

“Don’t worry, Mama: I’ll call when I’m though visiting another country.”

And since Pamporovo and Kiev are in the same time zone, there’s no trying to figure out when Annie should get there.  In fact, if she knows Alex is gonna meet her around eleven, she can leave home about fifteen minutes before to ensure she’ll arrive in time–depending on where it is they’re gonna meet.  And I know where they’re gonna meet–I’m just not saying right now.  Same with Penny and Kerry:  locked down their meeting area a few months ago, but you’ll just have to wait on the where.

This portion of the conversation leads into something else that has been asked about already–

 

“Good.” Annie sat back with a smile on her face and her hands folded before her. “You can send a message to my school account: I can access that from my mother’s laptop when I’m home.”

“When you getting your own phone?” Penny scratched behind her right ear. “That way we can just text you.”

Kerry looked across the table and while he kept quiet. They’d discussed this matter more than a few times since returning after Yule, and Annie promised that once she was home and settled in, she’d do everything possible to convinced her parents to let her buy a smart phone. He believed her, too: he was more than aware that when Annie wanted something . . .

Annie’s response was simple and direct. “I’m working on that. You may say it’s my summer project.”

Kerry noticed their four friends exchanging glances between themselves. “Something up?”

Being the closest to him, Alex answered Kerry. “We were wondering if you might like another project for the summer—”

Penny glanced at Annie to her left. “Both of you.”

 

Yes, Annie’s gonna work on getting a phone, and yes, that issue will come up in the next novel.  I know some of you are thinking, “She should have one by now, she’s thirteen!” but you ain’t Annie’s mother:  I guess I am, and I know why they haven’t gotten her a phone yet.  Just chill and wait.  You’ll see.

Now, what is the summer project that is going to be asked of Annie and Kerry?  Well, that’s tonight’s business.

And that means you have to wait until tomorrow to see.

The Agony of the Finish

Last night was something of a first for me, because I did a couple of things I haven’t done in a while.  First, I started and finished a scene in one sitting.  Second, in doing the first, I wrote almost two thousand words.  Well, it was more like eighteen hundred and fifty, but you get where I’m coming from:  I haven’t done that in a while.  I did it by kickin’ it old school:  lots of music, most of it of the older variety, like 60s and 70s, and just kept pushing myself to get it done.

And done I did get it.

The vibe in this scene is far different it that it’s not all Kerry out there in the snow and cold all by himself.  Racing at this joint is a lonely affair, and it’s been proven because you don’t race with others on this course, you race the course, and that means you race alone.

Here you go:  all of the scene in it’s depressing glory:

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

If it weren’t for the fact he was on the last lap negotiating the last major turn on the last section of the Katahdan course, Kerry would have DNFed and headed for the paddock. He wasn’t prepared for the stress the race placed upon him, and over the last twenty minutes he’d fought with the cold, he’d fought with the messy and at times impossible-to-see course, with the constant stop and goes and left and rights—but most of all he’d fought to ignore the throbbing in his left knee. Though he couldn’t prove it, he was certain the initial collision on Lap 1 tore the outer ligaments, and over the course of Lap 2 and 3 he’d torn the other two sets.

It didn’t matter: at the moment his knee was engulfed in flame that has found its way up his thigh and into his hip. He was tired of the pain. He’d raced hurt in other school races, but never for nearly two hundred and seventy-five kilometers, and Kerry was continuing on fueled by endorphins, adrenaline, and sheer willpower, and the same mantra that saw him through a few bad moments during the last school year: A good sorceress keeps their wits about them when everything is going to hell around them.

He flew through McCarty Pass and eased his way towards the Lowland turn. After doing the Perimeter Road flyover all that remained was the straight into Wrap Around and the short chute into Final before zipping across the Start/Finish line. He had no idea where he was in the standings: the last person he’d passed had happened all the way over in Section 2 during this lap, maybe twenty minutes earlier. He knew he hasn’t seen Penny or Nadine since they’d passed him on Lap 1, so he figured there were still ahead of him.

Which, if he were correct, meant there were still a lot of people behind him.

He bounced into Lowland and sailed through the flyover before turning on another quick burst of speed towards the end. There was little left ahead, and behind him—

For the first time in a while he checked his rear view and spotted two racers, then a third, shoot over the flyover and hit the straight behind him. He wasn’t about to try performing calculations in his head, which left him guessing—and his guess was they wouldn’t catch him before Final turn. I’m going to do this; I’ve got this . . .

Every second in Wrap Around left his knee feeling as if someone was jabbing a hot needle into an open nerve. He shook it off and concentrated on getting through Final. On last glance in the rear view and he watched one of his pursuers come out of the last turn. He didn’t bother with IFF: they weren’t going to catch him. He pushed through Final as hard as he could take it, staying to the far outside of the turn so he could keep his speed up, then pushed forward as hard as he could stand. The final gate flashed green as he reached the Start/Finish line and put three lap and three hundred kilometers behind him.

The race was over: he’d completed the Katahdan course, though not in one piece as he’d hoped.

 

Here’s the last segment, Section 8–

We're just about home--literally.

Which is a good term for being nuts, now that I think about it.

Kerry’s done his three laps, and he’s ready to come in.  It wasn’t something he was ready for mentally, and it’s showing.  There’s also something else bothering him as well–

 

Kerry pulled up and away from the course, slowing in a long, high loop to ease the pain on his knee. He was about to call in when Professor Semplen called him. “Congratulations on finishing your first Katahdin race, Kerry. Over.”

“Thanks, Professor.” He gulped as he flipped up his visor. “I need medical attention: my left knee is damaged and it’s killing me. Over.”

“Rodger. We’re contacting the hospital now.” There was a slight pause before Professor Semplen returned to the comm. “Do you think you can stand on it? Over.”

Kerry shook his head even though there wasn’t anyone else around. “Not a chance. Over.”

“We copy. Return to the paddock and remain hovering on your broom, or if you feel you need to lay down have someone help you off and stay on the ground. Someone will be there shortly. Over.”

“Got it.” He angled towards the small open grove just to the north of the Start/Finish line. “I’ll be waiting—over and out.”

He floated out of the sky and was over the confines of the paddock only ten seconds after his conversation with Professor Semplen. With the excitement of the race behind him the adrenaline stopped flowing and the endorphin high was rapidly fading. Even before he reached the ground Kerry’s vision had begun graying out from pain. He leaned over his broom’s control column before sliding to his right—

“I got ya, Kerry.” Penny held him tight, easing him to the ground while Nadine removed his helmet. “You’re okay now, just relax.”

He moaned as his left leg bent the wrong way. “Where’s Coraline?” He clutched Penny’s arm, digging his gloved fingers into her arm. “Where is she?”

“The professor called; a nurse is on their way.” She gave him a reassuring smile. “Hang in there, mate. You’ll be okay.”

“What happened?” Alex came running towards them, sliding to a stop next to Nadine, who was kneeling at Kerry’s left. “What’s wrong?”

Nadine had the answer. “Remember Emma getting a slow down at the start of the race for rough racing? Erywin told me she collided with him in the Pond Switchback.”

“She hit my leg.” He spoke through ragged breaths. “Screwed up my knee.”

“Again?” Alex shook her head. “Son of a bitch—”

 

So Nadine and Penny are there, which means they were up near the front as Kerry suspected.  And Alex is there as well, so she’s somewhere in that mix.  Now what could make this party complete?  How about . . .

 

“Kerry? How are you?”

All three girls attending turned to Emma, standing about three meters past Kerry’s feet. Nadine tilted her head slightly to the left. “You might want—”

Alex was on her feet, taking a few menacing steps towards the Mórrígan racer. “Did you do this? Vy nimyy suka.”

Emma’s demeanor alternated between upset and pissed. “I only wanted to see how he was feeling—”

“He’s hurt.” Penny shot her a withering glare. “How did you think he was gonna feel?”

“I didn’t know, Penny.” Emma’s tone was beginning to match those of the other girls. “That’s why I came over.”

“Well, now you know.” Penny looked down at the injured boy, who was sweating profusely in the cool Maine air. “Now you need to get out of here.”

Emma wasn’t taking the hint. “Who do you think—?”

Penny was standing and not bothering to hide her anger. “Piss off, Neilson.” She dismissed the girl with a wave. “Move your arse out of here before we move it for you.”

Nadine put herself between the Cernunnos girls and her teammate. “Come on, let’s go.”

Even with this Emma still hadn’t caught on that she wasn’t wanted. “I just wanted to—”

Let’s go.” Nadine stiff-armed the arguing girl and led her out of the area before a fight broke out.

“Let us through.” At that moment Nurse Bianca Gallard appeared wearing her white hospital jacket and carrying a stretcher. She left the stretcher floating just beyond Kerry’s head as she knelt next to his head. “How are you feeling, Kerry?”

 

Really, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, huh?  The Mistress of the Misstep causes a calamity and then comes over so see how things are.  Maybe she figured Nadine being there would keep the Vipers chilled out, but no:  Emma came within moments of getting an ass beating, and it required her team captain stepping in to pull her out of harm’s way for her to get the messages.

At least help has arrived.

 

He answered in a soft, weak tone. “I’m hurtin’ bad.”

Bianca gave him a tiny smile. “How’s your pain on one to ten?”

“About a seven.” Kerry closed his eyes and swallowed. “Maybe eight.”

“Okay. Here’s what we’re gonna do—” She looked across his body. “I’m going to immobilize your leg so we can get you to the hospital with it moving about as little as possible. My assistant is gonna give you something for the pain: just enough to dull it, nothing more.” The smile returned. “Got that?”

“I got it.”

“Okay.” Bianca stood and turned to someone standing behind her. “Give him a Number Two patch; we just want to manage the pain right now.”

“Yes, Nurse Bianca.”

 

An assistant?  We haven’t seen any assistants working in the hospital before–Oh, Wait!  Yes we have, back during the Day of the Dead attacks.  Yeah, they exist, so I wonder who got tagged for this duty?

 

Though Kerry hadn’t seen the person the nurse spoke with, he recognized the voice and accent instantly. A large grin appeared upon his face as Annie—also wearing a white hospital jacket over her sweater—knelt next to him. “Assistant, huh?”

“I am a member of the Triage Team, am I not?” She removed his right glove. “Coraline thought it would be a good idea if I came with Nurse Bianca.”

 

As if you hadn’t expected this one–Nurse Annie to the rescue!

“I’m sure you ran to the hospital and offered your help, too.”

Annie nodded as she reached inside her jacket and removed a medpatch. “You know me all too well, my love.”

He watched her unwrap the patch and cracked it to activate the enchantment that would get the medication into his system. “You gonna make me feel better now?”

“Yes.” She gently slid the patch against the back of his hand and pressed it in place.

“With a kiss?”

She leaned close to his face and whispered. “That’s for later tonight.”

Bianca was standing over the couple. “I’ve got the knee set. You want to get him up so we have an easier time getting the stretcher under him?”

“Yes, Nurse Bianca.” Annie stood and took a step back from Kerry before raising her hands so they were level with her waist. Kerry slowly rose from the ground as Annie levitated to where he as high as her knees. “Ready here.”

Bianca slapped the stretcher over him, phasing it through his body before getting it set under him. She pointed towards Kerry’s feet. “You take that end.” Annie moved into position as Bianca raised

Kerry until he was level with her waist. “Okay, Kerry; we’re taking you directly to the ward. Hold on though—” She cradled his broom in his right arm. “Wouldn’t want to leave this behind.” He looked across to her assistant. “You got a good grip, Annie?”

Annie held tight to the stretcher handles. “I’m ready.”

Kerry stared straight up into the gray, snowy sky as he heard Bianca give a three-second countdown before there was the now-familiar sensation of something light pushing against his skin and quickly vanishing. He started up into the lights of the first floor ward as he was moved down the corridor, finally ending up in familiar surroundings: Bed #2 in Bay #1.

Bianca whipped the stretcher over him and slid it into the bay across the corridor, then turned to Annie. “Start getting his accessories off and set them on Bey #1 with his broom. I’ll get the IVs and what we need to clean him and set his knee. I’ll be back in a moment.”

“Yes, Nurse Bianca.” Annie set his broom on the other bed along with the glove she’s held since they’d arrived. She moved to the other side of the bed to get his other glove. “Just relax; we’re gonna get you all better.”

Kerry had little difficulty relaxing now that the pain meds were in his system. “You’re going to clean me up?”

She began sliding off his comm helmet. “Doesn’t the staff always clean you up?”

He started grinning. “Does this mean you’re gonna undress me?”

Her right eyebrow rose. “What do you think?” It returned to its normal place of rest as Annie chuckled. “I did say we were going to make you feel better . . .”

 

Don’t worry, it’s all medical stuff gonna happen, so if Annie just happens to be there when Kerry’s in his birthday suit, it’s because she’s helping out the hospital staff.  That Annie, she certainly knows how to work the angles.

There you have it:  the end of Kerry’s race on the big track.  And the penultimate scene to this chapter:

It really is because I show you that it is.

It really is because I show you that it is.

One more scene, and then I put the penultimate chapter to this first part of Act Three to bed and move on to something . . .

Well, you’ll see.

Right On Down the Line

I’ll tell you, coming down to my local coffee shop on Sundays and writing for three hours straight has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.  I’ve finished the current scene after writing seventeen hundred and sixty-eight words, I’ve pushed the chapter over five thousand words, and the novel is now a few hundred words short of two hundred and twenty-nine thousand words.  I’m also sitting by a great window seat and dressed about as comfortably as ever.

Totally slipping into Basic White Girl land here.

Totally slipping into Basic White Girl land here.

Yes, that’s what I’m wearing today.  I’ve swapped out the Uggs for my leather Clark’s boots, but the leggings and Old Navy sweater dress are a reality, and I’m totally not sorry for being out like this.  It’s quite comfy, and it’s warm enough to be out like this, so it’s really great to get out and enjoy myself.  So I can work.  Yeah, why not?

A whole lot has happened out on this start/finish line, and I’m gonna give it to you all, because that’s the way I am.  And it more or less proves that I’ve been working, yeah?  Sure does.  So what did Kerry see after seeing Emma off?  Well . . .

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

He joined the group and hovered his helmet and gloves to his left. “Hey, guys: what’s up?”

Manco nodded in Kerry’s direction. “I just wanted to say a few things.” He looked down for a second before speaking. “First off, I need to have this said. Beginning of the season, when you came up—” He nodded towards Kerry again. “—Darius and I were pretty shitty to all you guys—”

“Pretty shitty?” Penny crossed her arms while a slight smile played upon her face. “I’d say it was more than pretty, considering you acted the same way towards Alex and me the season before.”
Manco considered Penny’s comment. “You’re right, we were—I was. The way we treated you last season sucked and was totally uncalled for.” He paused to see if someone else would comment, and proceeded when no one spoke up. “You all proved me wrong; you showed everyone—not just me, but all the other teams—who the best racers were in Cernunnos, and you did it where everyone could see: out on the track. I know it’s probably not going to mean a lot, but I want to apologize.” He looked at Penny and Alex. “You should have never been held back last season. It was wrong, and the team got screwed because it happened.”

Neither girl spoke for a few seconds, then Alex put their thoughts to words. “Thank you for telling us this, Manco, but you know, you’re team captain, and this is something you should have said in the ready room in front of Darius and Professor Semplen. It’s good that you’re saying this, but you should say it to everyone.”

Penny nodded. “This should be said in front of the whole team. You’re team captain, man; you gotta stop letting Darius get away with all this lame shite because you’re worried he’s gonna piss and moan.”

Manco chuckled as he looked down. “Yeah, well, you don’t have to share a room with him.”

Kerry figured it was time to speak up. “Yeah, but you’re just enabling him to act like a butt muffin to the rest of us. Anymore, all he does is race pissed off and he doesn’t do the team any good.” He looked around. “You notice he isn’t here.”

 

And the phrase of the day is “Butt muffin.”  Manco is trying to write a wrong here, and he’s actually apologizing to the girls more than to Kerry.  Which is fine with him, because he knows Penny and Alex should get apologies from the captain of the team.  Penny is right on the mark as well:  Manco should say this in front of everyone, not just the only girls on the team when he’s away from a disruptive teammate who we now discover is also his dormmate.  He’s getting the message, though, as well as a bit of support–

 

“I almost didn’t make this, either.” Manco looked away, not wanting to face anyone. “I’m lucky to be here.”

“Yeah, but you can race—” Penny lay a hand on his arm. “You can race; you’ve gotten a couple of podiums this season, and damn near won a few times.”

“You can turn this around.” Alex took a step closer to the boy. “You need to tell Darius to come with the rest of us, or tell the professor that we need to bring up another flier from the B Team.”

Kerry nodded. “Yeah, man; that’s your job.” He chuckled. “That’s why they pay you the big bucks.”

Manco finally laughed which got everyone else to laughing. “Yeah, right. I don’t know what to do with all the cash they’re sending my way.”

They had no sooner stopped laughing when they heard a voice in their comm helmets. “Attention, this is Race Control. The race will begin in ten minutes. All fliers make final preparations. We will light the starting grid in five minutes. Please stand by.”

The four students looked at each other while allowing the silence to fill the moment. Manco finally spoke, as he was team captain and felt it was his duty. “I know you guys are gonna do great. I’m gonna do my best to point: like the professor said, this is the first time in a long time the coven’s had four racers on this course, and all of us pointing would be a hell of a jump in the team standings”

Kerry playfully slapped Manco’s shoulder. “You can do a top-ten with ease, man.” He looked toward Penny and Alex, who were both nodding in agreement. “This is gonna be a good day.”

“You know it.” Penny stuck her right arm out and made a first. “Cernunnos.”

The rest of the team pressed their fists against Penny’s and echoed her sentiments. “Cernunnos.” Manco had the final word before they began their final preparations. “Let’s have a good race.”

 

The one thing we have not seen from Kerry’s team is a lot of unity, and this is really the first time we’ve seen them come together seem to be not just individual racers, but a real team.  I guess this is what comes of first acting like a butt muffin and thinking the girls and the new kid on the team are gonna suck, then continuing to act that way because they’ve proven you wrong as hell.  Tweener/Teen Drama:  even witches can’t get past this shit.

It looks like that’s changing with fist bumps all around and a general feeling of good will upon the course.  Now that Race Control–which is really Vicky as the over-all coordinator–has spoken, it’s time to get the show rolling:

 

Kerry grabbed his gloves from his helmet and slipped them on before pulling his hard racing helmet on over his soft comm helmet. He flipped up his face plate before touching the right side of his head. “Race Central, this is Starbuck. Comm check. Over.”

Professor Semplen voice came back soft and clear. “Starbuck, this is Race Central. We have you five-by-five. Over.”

“Rodger, Race Central. Read you five-by. Over and out.” Kerry pulled his Espinoza from Hammerspace and waited for his grid position to light up. He was slightly amused by the notion that for a race so long and arduous they still did this even on Class 1 PAVs. The reasoning, he was told, was one of tradition: since the race was run on the old, classic wooden brooms, there wasn’t any reason to make any changes. However, Erywin had told him a few weeks earlier that one of the reasons they’d decided against using Class 2 or 3 PAVs was the fear that someone would kill themselves.

“This is Race Central.” Everyone at the Start/Finish turned attentive as their final order began. “The race will begin in five minutes. We are lighting the grid in one minute. Remember that this is an inverted start, with those lowest in position starting up front and the best positions beginning at the rear. Each individual position will have you name and indicate your position. Once you position is illuminated, place your broom in position and await further instructions. The grid will appear in thirty seconds. Please stand by.”

Kerry stood about where he thought he would start, and a few seconds later, when the grid appeared, he discovered he was off by only a few meters. He set his broom on the red “X” hovering a half meter above the ground beside his name and his starting position for this race. Being sixth in the over-all individual standings meant starting eleventh on the Katahdin course, which actually put him slightly behind the middle of the pack. Being first in the individual standings Nadine was all the way in the back, five positions back and on Kerry’s right, while Rivânia two rows direction behind him on the left side of the course, and Penny in the row ahead of them and directly in front of Nadine.

Alex, fifth in the individual standings, was in the same row as Kerry and to his right and slightly behind him. He watched her shoot a death stare at Emma, who was directly ahead of Alex in the next row and starting in tenth due to being seventh in individual standings. He knew the reason for the animosity: on two occasions Emma had beaten Alex to the finish line through what the later felt was overly aggressive racing, and three weeks earlier Alex lost a race to Emma when, on the last lap, Emma slid into Alex as they negotiated the Green Line’s Diamond Chicane. The bobble was enough to cause Alex to lose momentum and come in second behind Emma’s forth win, and though she’d appealed the aggressive move to Race Control, they ruled that Emma’s move didn’t appear intentional, and refused to penalize the Mórrígan racer.

This didn’t sit well with Alex, and after the podium presentation she exchanged words with Emma, who responded by flipping off the Ukrainian racer. While no spells were thrown, Alex nearly connected with a punch to Emma’s face before Nadine, Penny, and Kerry got between the two girls and stopped the impending fight.

Since that time both teams kept an eye on the two fliers, and before the pre-race briefing, Penny and Kerry pulled Alex aside and reminded her to not worry about Emma. Kerry wasn’t worried about trouble on the course: this was a first-time race for all three of them, and all the new people were fully aware the race difficult enough without bringing personal issues to the track.

 

We learn a few things here.  One, everyone still uses the Class 1 brooms for racing because back in the old days the witches ran this course on the real brooms, those damn uncomfortable wooden things they stuck between their legs.  There probably is some truth to the fact that people might have a better chance of getting killed if they did the faster, more responsive brooms, but let’s face it:  if they aren’t dying at the school on those suckers, they probably won’t on the Katahdin course, either.  It’s all about tradition, kids, don’t let anyone fool you.

And we also learn of the Emma/Alex Issues!  First she takes out her wingmate because she’s a little pissed, and now she’s done pissed off his team mate, and done so enough that Alex went in swinging on her ass.  The Bolder Ginger needs to watch herself, ’cause the last thing she wants is a crazy Ukrainian gunning for her–

Okay, maybe not this crazy a Ukrainian.

Okay, maybe not this crazy a Ukrainian.

–but you can imagine if three people jumped in to break the sucker up, it was serious.  Also, you have to wonder about the look on Emma’s face as a fist went sailing past her nose while the air was filled with Ukrainian curses.  It  was probably a bit humorous for everyone watching.  Makes you wonder, too, how Emma would react to a piss-off sorceress throwing death spells at her . . .

All that remains to getting ready:

 

“This is Race Control. All fliers mount your brooms and remain in hover. The race will begin in two minutes. Please stand by.” Kerry slipped his leg over his broom and used transformation magic to slip his genitals into his body before getting comfortable in the saddle. He looked back at Alex and gave her a thumbs up, which she returned. He faced forward and mentally prepared himself for the difficult hour and fifteen minutes ahead—

“This is Race Control. One minute to race start. Light are on the course.” A row of steadily glowing red lights appeared several meters ahead of Anna, who was starting on the pole due to making the race the week before. “Spyeyes in place and active. Activating elevation gates.” Down the length of the course ahead the hovering gates the races needed to pass appeared. “All flier, attend to final preparations.”

Kerry slapped down his face plate and leaned over his broom, waiting for the signal to begin. For just a second he imagined Annie sitting at their table in the Dining Hall, watching the race playing upon holographic screens. They’d done the same thing last year; this year she and Jairo, maybe Alex’s boyfriend Kahoku as well, were watching him prepare to take on the mountain—

“This is Race Control. Fifteen seconds to start. Set the light.” The red lights started flashing. “Ten seconds.” The row of lights went to black, then a single red light appeared on the left as a beeping tone sounded in everyone’s comm. As the beeping continued the lights began activating from left to right, turning to yellow as it continued to the right. “Five seconds, and . . .” The last light on the right illuminated, all turned to a flashing yellow for a few seconds before every overhead light turned a bright, steady green. “GO.”

 

With that we are totally off and running, and you know what’s coming–

Maybe the race?

Maybe the race?

Yeah, I’d say that’s a good bet.

The Myriad Ways of the Race

The course is totally laid out now, so no more blabbering on about that.  Once I show you the last three sections, I’m done, so your various body parts can stop exploding because I’m all into the world building at the moment.  It is fun, though:  you can’t imagine what it’s like until you do this.

So, last three sections:

Let's start here, shall we?

Let’s start here, shall we?

This happens not long after coming off Hamlin Peak, and it sees the last of the big, fast climbs–in this case, about 450 meters up to North Brother, one of the smaller peaks on the whole mountain complex.  It’s at North Brother Switch that the fliers are at 1219 meters/4000 feet for the last time, and after this, from point 3 to point 10, it’s an 800 meter/1600 foot flight downhill, with position 10, Splash, sitting at an elevation of 430 meters/1410 feet.

Then we go–

Here.

Here.

We’re flying straight north and pretty much flat out for most of it, as points 6 and 7 act as a chicane for the racers.  Not a lot of variation in the terrain now, save for the little up, down, up at the West Butte/Hollow/East Butte combination.  This section is really where the racers start to pour it on for the finish, and point 7 sees a fair share of crashes due to people getting a little too excited near the end.

And lastly:

We're just about home--literally.

We’re just about home–literally.

The final sprint back to the Start/Finish line.  You’re pretty much out of the hills here and rushing towards the end, and the fast turn combination of Wrap Around and Final offer a final passing opportunity before starting another lap or finishing the race.  And given the size of this track, those last two turns are big, so one can carry a lot of speed through them if you don’t mind the gee forces.  But Kerry knows how to beat that . . .

That’s it:  all done.  The course is laid out.  Now–we are back to the Ready Room, where Vicky is getting the fliers, um, ready:

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

“There are four way a racer will find themselves in this race, and each of you meet one or more of those four points. For you new people who may have been asleep for a year or more, here are each of those points—

“First: you are in the top three of over-all A Team individual standings among all covens. For the first time in a while the three students in the top three are from separate covens: Mórrígan, Åsgårdsreia, and Cernunnos. And for one of those fliers, this is her first time here because of her standings. Congratulation.” Kerry and Alex quietly gave Penny, who was third in those standings, soft fist bumps.

“Second: if you aren’t here because you’re in the top three, then we take next two best fliers from their individual A Team coven standings. For Ceridwen and Blodeuwedd, this means their first and second place fliers are here, and for the other three covens their second and third place fliers are present. There are several new people here this morning, all due to the efforts they’ve put forth on the track.” Penny took that moment to point her thumbs toward the team members to either side of her: her dorm mate Alex, who was second in the coven standings, and Kerry, who was third.

 

There you have it:  the top three racers in Cernunnos are Penny, Alex, and Kerry, in that order.  Quite a difference from the “You guys suck, stay out of our way” routine they got at the start of the season from Manco and Darius.  And fist bumping–did you ever see anyone on a quidditch team fist bump?  No, you didn’t.  Because my kids are like real kids, only they know magic.  And they’re gonna race on a big ass mountain.

But there’s more!

 

Vicky paused a moment to collect her thoughts before continuing. “These first two rules ensure we always have a minimum of thirteen racers on the course. We haven’t had the minimum start the race since 1996, and given the level of talent coming up, I don’t expect that to happening again any time soon—mostly due to these next two points—

“The third way to gain entry into this race if you don’t meet the criteria set forth in Points One and Two, is to win a points paying A Team race from the time of the first scheduled race after the last running of this event, up to the last scheduled race before this event. Today we have three racers here because of this point. We have Soroushi Amouzegar from Blodeuwedd, who won a race in November—” She pointed at the D Level girl from Iran sitting with the rest of her team mates. “—Manco Mamani from Cernunnos, who won back in April during the 2011/12 Season—” She nodded at him, sitting at Kerry’s far right. “—and Anna Laskar from Åsgårdsreia, who managed to win last week’s Grand Melee.” The German girl grinned as she was playfully hugged by one of her team mates.  “Congratulations: you couldn’t have managed a bigger win than that.

“And fourth and last: if you are a past winner of this race, you are automatically entered in this event, and that ruling remains in place up to a year after you graduate. We had a graduate who was eligible to participate in this event, and she respectfully declined—which is fine. Unless you’re keeping your racing skills sharp after you leave school, you probably don’t want to tackle this course after a year away from any track.

 

So Manco is there because he won a race almost a year earlier.  He’s probably feeling quite humble right now, as he was in this race the year before on position.  I should point out that Soroushi is in her second year of racing, but her first full one on the A Team, and Anna–well, we know Anna.  And she seems to be happy because she scored the last win possible that would get her into this event.  No wonder she’s all smiles.  Probably did it to spite Lisa for taking her out just to get to Kerry.

 

“And the Mount Katahdin course is unlike any any of you have ever tackled. For seven of you, yesterday’s cruse-through so you could familiarize yourself with the track and placement of elevation gates was your first time here, and you are going to be surprised. Maybe people have said this course has the speed of the Green Line, the variation of the Blue, and the technical difficulty of the Red. Even so, this course is nothing like what you’ve run before.

“Three laps of one hundred kilometers each for a total of three hundred kilometers. That’s huge, but for you new people who watched the race last year, that only means if you want to win, you have to fly flat out. Since 1989 there has been only one flier who won with a time of greater than seventy-five minutes, and they did so with a time of 75:24. Every other winner has has beat seventy-five minutes, and we’re getting closer to beating the seventy minute mark—thought for a moment we were going to do it last year.” Nearly everyone in the room cast a glance towards Rivânia Suassuna, who won the race the year before with a time of 71:07. “This means covering four kilometers every minute, and that means an average speed of two hundred forty kilometers an hour.

“I know what you new people are thinking: that shouldn’t be that hard. And it isn’t—until you fly into a switch back at two hundred, that is, or sail over a hump at over two-fifty, or do the five hundred meters drop off from High Dive to Basin Ridge at better than three hundred kph, and then you’ll probably begin to wonder what the hell you’re doing zipping around a mountain in Maine on a cold Saturday morning.” She looked over her shoulder at the Astronomy instructor. “That feeling is probably going to start as soon as you hear the weather report for the course. Harpreet?”

 

Should point out that Nadine is in first place in the standings, and Rivânia is right behind her. so there’s your Mórrígan and  Åsgårdsreia people in the top three.  But Rivânia holds the course record, so expect Nadine to go after that today.

As you can summarize, the majority of the tops in the listings have the majority of the wins, if only three people outside the top two or three in a coven are racing here.  Which makes sense, because the top thirteen people there will have nearly all the wins, because they are the best.  And in case you’re wondering–and I know some are–in third place over on the Mórrígan coven team sits Emma, and she probably as happy as Kerry to have made the show.

Sure, I gotta do some running around tonight, but . . . the briefing is near the end.

And then we can get to the good stuff.

Polar On ‘Till Next Year

I certainly surprised myself.  Got back into the grind at work, though it wasn’t a lot, but I was accomplished on a few hours of sleep and the whirlwind of the travel to and from the Midwest.  As much as I wanted to stop for a beverage last night, there was no way in hell I could given how tired I felt.  I’ve had been sound asleep at seven PM.

So I got into writing after I at.  And as slow as things seem to go along the way, I never realized that I’d written twelve hundred and forty-five words to finish the scene.  I also didn’t believe this scene would take nearly two thousand words to complete.  Wrong on both accounts.

The idea behind this scene was to actually give people and idea how this oh-so-often discussed event begins.  We know we’re here, but what is really going on?  We’re about to find out, and you’ll see that it’s not too exciting if you’re watching from the sidelines.

 

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

Though there were five teams in Advanced Flight Two only three elected to do the Polar Express this year. As Annie had heard at the same time as Kerry, one of the teams had started to come apart, teamwork-wise, and they’d both told Vicky they believed it best if they didn’t try to brave the wilds of Canada.

The other team was far more straight forward: one member had suffered two concussions from accidents near the end of team racing for 2012, and though the team member was cleared for flying and racing, her partner and she decided that spending a couple of days freezing their butts off wasn’t in their best interest.

Annie, along with Kerry, was there to send off one team in particular—one with whom they’d grown close, and whose members had shared much with Kerry this school year—

The lights in the Dining Hall dropped to about one-quarter illumination so the teams would not have to deal with night blindness when they jaunted into the wilderness. The three teams entered the hall and walked towards friends who’d gathered to see them off. One team approached two people and spoke with them for a few seconds before turning and approaching Annie and Kerry. One of the members hooked her thumbs in the pockets of her winter parka, letting the mittens attached to the sleeves dangle at her sides. “Thanks for coming out, guys.”

“Did you think we were going to let our floor mates leaving without saying goodbye?” Annie shook her head. “Not a chance.”

Penny nodded. “Yeah, well . . .” She chuckled. “I see you dressed up for us.”

Kerry moved closer to Annie. “Sorry, I left my formal wear back in Cardiff.” He switched gaze from Penny to her flying partner, Alex. “You must be pretty excited about now.”

“Not so much because this is the worst part—” Alex bit the inside of her lower lip for a few seconds “Not knowing where we are going, only that wherever we end up it’ll be cold and dark.”

“Canada in wintertime.” Penny tapped Alex on the arm. “Just be glad we don’t have to fly back from Alaska or Russia.”

 

Yeah, they could call this shit the Siberian Express, and then you’d really end up screwed.  Imagine flying out of there in the dead of winter.

It made complete sense that Penny and Alex, who are members of Advanced Flight Two, were going to set off on a tour of Canada during the winter, armed only with camping gear, their brooms, and their wits.  And since their racing mate is on the same floor with them, it makes even more sense that Annie and Kerry would stay up–as did a lot of other students–to see them off.

Now comes the time for goodbyes and hugs–

 

Before Alex could retort Vicky’s voice boomed out over the hall’s magical speakers. “Attention, all teams: departures begin in five minutes. Finish up your goodbyes and see to your equipment.”
Annie reached out and gave Penny a hug. “Have an uneventful flight.”

“Thanks.” Penny closed her eyes and hugged her second floor fried tight. “We’ll do our best.”

Alex slipped in around Penny and hugged Annie. “See you in a couple of days; keep Jairo out of trouble.”

“No promises there—” Annie nodded towards Kerry as she spoke in Ukrainian. “U mene ye sviy lyublyu dyvytysya, vy znayete.”

Alex replied in Bulgarian. “Mozhete da napravite poveche ot tova prosto da gledate, da znaesh.”

Both girls nodded and giggled before Annie switched back to English. “All true.”

 

It’s apparent Annie and Alex have been working on each other’s languages, and they probably can now converse just a little.  And what do they say?  Something like this:

 

Annie:  U mene ye sviy lyublyu dyvytysya, vy znayete.  (I have my own love to watch, you know.)

Alex:  Mozhete da napravite poveche ot tova prosto da gledate, da znaesh.  (You can do more than just watch, you know.)

 

Alex, you cheeky little girl.  These witches move fast, or at least the girls do.  Hormones and maturity, you know, while these boy witches are just so slow . . .

Now that the girls have said goodbye to Annie, there’s on person left:

 

Penny glanced at Annie and waited for a slight nod before giving Kerry a hug. “Keep Annie warm while we’re away.”

“That’s never too hard to do.” He finished his hug and accepted another from Alex. “Try and have fun if you can.”

“When we’re no freezing.” She stepped back when she was finished. “We’ll be here next year to see you off.”

Kerry looked down, touched by the sentiment. “Thanks.”

“Come on—” Penny nodded towards the two boys standing close together. “We don’t have much time.”

“Okay.” Alex waved to her friends. “See you soon.”

“Don’t drink all the hot chocolate while we’re gone.” Penny gave a farewell wave as they hurried over to say goodbye to their boyfriends. Annie and Kerry turned away and moved off a distance to give the couples a little privacy. Annie didn’t want to watch their final words, hugs, and kisses: she was already imagining herself being in the same position a year from now, and it wasn’t making her happy.

Vicky called out a two minute warning and the teams proceeded directly to their equipment. Penny and Alex snapped up their parka hoods and moved their goggles into place before lifting their large backpacks into place. As Vicky called the first team to the circle set out on the section of the floor where Kerry and she shared their Samhain dances, Penny and Alex put on their mittens and picked up their brooms—

“Team Wormwood.” Vicky nodded at the girls before motioning towards the circle. “You’re up.”

Annie held onto Kerry’s arm as the girls moved into place for jaunting. They explained their team name during one Midnight Madness, with Penny telling them that she wanted something that would link Alex and her together, and they went with Wormwood, because of its connection to the drink absinthe, to the creation of natural healing mixtures—and because the Ukrainian word for wormwood was chernobyl. As Penny said, “We can heal, we can make strange things happen, and we can meltdown on you at any moment.”

 

First off, notice that Penny and Alex sought, and received, permission to get huggy with Kerry.  All the girls are in relationships, so they are aware of the code in place:  ask before touching.  They also know Annie’s a sorceress, and they want to head off to Canada without smoke rising from their bodies.

Also, all the stuff about wormwood is true.  You can use it to make healing mixtures, a variety is used to make absinthe, and the Ukrainian word for wormwood is chernobyl.  That last I’ve known about for some time, and the first two were something I discovered last night.

The girls are all geared up and ready to go.  All that remains is the departure.

 

They stood in the circle as Isis confirmed setting up the jaunt with her people in the security station. She finally nodded to girls and held up her hand with her fingers spread, indicating five seconds to go. Alex took Penny’s hand as they hosted their brooms into the air—

They vanished from the circle with the familiar sound of air popping as it rushed in to occupy where they’d stood a second before. It was only when Annie heard Kerry exhale did she realized he’d held his breath in the moments leading up to the girl’s departure. “Are you okay, my love?”

“Yeah, I’m—” He took a deep breath as he wrapped his arm around Annie. “I’m fine, Darling.”

The last team jaunted off, leaving the staff and students lingering in the protracted silence. Annie didn’t want them there any longer than necessary. “I’d say it’s time for bed—agreed?”

Kerry was about to say something when something caught his attention. Annie found the source right away: it was Emma, standing with a group of girls from her coven. She nodded slowly at him, but he didn’t respond except to nod and wave. “Agreed—” He wrapped his left arm around Annie and turned towards the Dining Hall exit. “Time for bed.”

They were nearly half way to their coven before Kerry spoke. “No flying at all tomorrow.” He planted a soft kiss on Annie’s cheek. “We could sleep in if we wanted.”

“And if we were sharing a room, I’d want just that.” She leaned against him as they walked. “I thought you were going to speak with Emma after that last jaunt.”

He rested his head against hers. “I could tell that’s what she wanted.”

“Then why didn’t you?”

Kerry stopped and moved so he was facing his soul mate. “I’ve got a year to talk about the Polar Express with Emma.” He pulled Annie closer and held her tight. “But we have our first Friday and Saturday at school without classes for the first time since like the start of our B Levels, and I want to spend that with you.”

Annie set her arms around her love’s shoulders and kissed him with the cold darkness surrounding them. “I love you entirely too much.”

“I don’t think that’s possible—” He kissed her for almost fifteen seconds before continuing on towards their coven tower. “Give it enough time, and we’ll discover there’ll be lots of room for more love.”

 

Right there Kerry makes his choice, and while he could have had a few minutes with Emma going on about, “Hey, wait until we do this!” and so on, he wanted to head off to bed with Annie instead.  As he says, I have all year to talk with her, but right now I’m with you, and there really couldn’t be anything more true given that he was probably thinking ahead to the next year when he’s probably going to do this same event with the Ginger From Boulder.

So there–

One scene down, several to go.

One scene down, five to go.

And the next three involve our favorite dark witch at Salem–

No, not the small one:  the bigger one.  You’ll see.

Significant Significances

Far better mood I have this morning, thank you.  Yesterday was all about getting stressed out at work, then getting away, getting something to eat, coming home and trying not to lost my emotions.  Okay, didn’t quite make that last one, but everything else happened, and with gusto, as the old beer ads used to say.

It’s life.  Move on.

Things are downright cozy back at the coven tower, though it’s not quite as alone here as it was in the last scene . . .

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

For most of the night they sat before the fire, talking, listening to whatever played on Kerry’s computer, and watching students return to the coven. About twenty-one the last of the coven’s students arrived—D Level Darius Roy and A Level Nancy Piugattuk from Canada, and A Levels Huwey Juanico from the island of Guadeloupe and Menan Torres from Paraguay. Darius waved to his fellow racers as he headed for the stairs—the first time Annie could remember him doing anything that looked outwardly friendly—while the three A Levels sat off to one side of the ground floor for about fifteen minutes chatting. Before heading to their floor they came over to introduce themselves, hoping they weren’t “breaking the fishbowl” by speaking to upper levelmates. Everyone welcomed their warmly, and Kerry told them that this time late year Annie and he were living on their floor, and that while he couldn’t speak for all the students in the coven, those on the second floor were “pretty cool”.

Annie couldn’t keep the smile off here face, even after the A Levels went to their rooms. As much contact as they’d had with upper levelmates during the last year, they’d yet to have contact with the A Levels in their own coven, and she liked how Kerry made them feel welcome. A year ago at this time her moyata polovinka was a quiet bundle of nerves and unhappiness: now he was comfortable with both school, friend, and most of all, his soul mate. She also, in that moment, realized they would be the ones welcoming the new B Levels to the second floor . . .

Since this is the first time we’ve really seen the new students at Cernunnos, and like a lot of other towers the students are from all over the place.  Kerry and Annie, as pointed out, had little access to the upper levels of their own towers:  all of the older students they met came from the other four.  Here now, however, The Party of Five–well, Six for the moment–are taking time to say hi and make the new kid feel welcome.  This is something that’ll get touched on much later in the novel, but for now, it looks as if all the young witches have come home to roost.

Some, however, need to visit other parts of the school first–

As the time neared twenty-two Alex and Kahoku left; he was tired and want to get to sleep, and she wanted to bid him a good night. In the aftermath of their departure the remaining couples grew quiet as they listened to music. Penny and Jairo moved to the floor in front of the fireplace and cuddled, while Kerry lay back against the sofa arm while Annie lay back against him. There wasn’t a need for conversation: both couples wanted to reacquaint themselves with each other. Annie paid no attention to what her floor mates were doing: it was a habit she’d immediately picked up once they began attending the Midnight Madness. It was an unspoken rule that as long as you didn’t stare at others, they wouldn’t stare back.

And Annie was well aware Kerry and she did enough to warrant stares from others.

Alex returned a half-hour after leaving. Penny turned around to greet her, with Jairo taking his time moving around. “You give Kaho some good night snuggles?”

“I gave him more than snuggles.” Alex slid over the arm of the love seat where her levelmates had sat most of the evening. “I so missed him.”

“I know that feeling.” Annie pulled Kerry’s arms around her before adjusting the covers over her legs.

“I checked the status board in the Atrium on the way back—” Alex swung one leg over the love seat arm. “Only about half the instructors and staff are here.” She intertwined her fingers and cracked her knuckled. “Only three of the coven leaders, too.”

Kerry rested his chin against Annie’s shoulder. “Which ones?”

“Arrakis, Salden, and Palmescoff.” Alex snorted. “I met Palmescoff on the way over to Blodeuwedd; she was on her way to the Instructor’s Residence.”

“What was she doing?” Jairo snorted before asking the followup. “Checking on her students?”

“Probably. Don’t know. I didn’t go inside.” The blond Ukrainian girl wiggled her eyebrows. “We didn’t go right to his tower, if you know what I mean.”

Penny chuckled. “No need to elaborate.” She stood and helped Jairo to his feet. “And speaking of good nights, we’re heading up to the second for a few of our own.”

“Sounds like a good idea.” Alex was on her feet before she turned to the couple on the sofa. “You guys coming?”

“We’re going to stay up a bit longer.” Annie turned slightly so she rested on her side against Kerry. “We still have catching up to do.”

Yes, Annie and Kerry have “catching up to do”.  I guess that’s what kids there are gonna call it, right?  But we do get to see that the Lovey Dovey couple aren’t the only ones who do the snogging thing.  And Alex didn’t take her boyfriend right home?  Whatever could she mean?

So lets sorta bring the lights down a little on this party . . .

Penny was about to say something when Alex tapped her arm. “Come on; let the lyubyty ptakhiv have their privacy.”

“Yeah.” Penny gave them a wave. “See you guys in the morning.”

Jairo nodded. “See you later.”

Kerry gave them a short wave. “Mañana, guys.”

Annie did the same. “Have a good night.”

Alex was the last to leave. “Don’t stay up too late.” She chuckled as she bounded up the stairs after her friends.

It wasn’t until their friends were out of sight that Annie stretched out and relaxed. “Alone at last.”

“And I think completely this time.” He slid down slightly so he could rest his head. “We got the whole commons to ourselves.”

“Which mean we should make good use of the space—” Annie rolled around and gave Kerry a short kiss. “I missed you so much, my love.”

First comes the missing, then come the kissing, and then comes the . . . magic?

First comes the missing, then come the kissing, and then comes the . . . magic?

The scene isn’t quite over, and it’ll lead directly into two scenes that comes pretty much back-to-back to each other.  But I have to end this on off first, and that may happen tonight, as there is a bunch of stuff I should do tonight, but that I may put off until tomorrow–

We’ll see–won’t we, Scarlett?

Down On the Deck: Asked and Answered

Yesterday was all about me, but–what about my kids?  Well, they’re around.  In particular Annie, who’s hanging out at the Flight School waiting for Kerry to return.  That’s one of the reasons this is all about Annie right now, because Kerry is somewhere in the air and on his way home.  Annie, however:  she’s back at the school and, believe it or not, hanging with the girls.  Which girls, you ask?  Let’s get right into the action, because I didn’t show you much yesterday.

 

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

The Flight Deck was on the second floor of the Flight School, situated directly over the first floor Briefing Room. Normally it was used during emergencies—it was from here that Holoč Semplen kept track of the fliers on patrol during the Day of the Dead attacks—but today it was being used for its other purpose, which was to monitor student flights beyond the walls. Not every student flying outside the walls was tracked: only those PAVs with active tracking were watched, and the school could only track up to one hundred kilometers from the Great Hall. Continue reading