The Definition of Shadows

Thousand word day–yes, I had it.  I had a lot to do yesterday but writing over a thousand words was one of the things on my get it done list.  I also thought about the physics of time spells in the Normal world, which made my head hurt, but someone’s gotta think about that.

Speaking of spells Isis is about to start her talk about Those Shadows, and it’s time to bend your brain just a little…

 

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

 

Annie stepped back from Isis and spoke with confidence. “I’ve not read much on the spell, though from what I have read, it seems there’s a bit of confusion as to whether or not it’s a variation of the Light Bending spell.”

Isis’ eyebrows shot upward for just a second. “Why did it seems like there’s confusion?”

“Some of the people writing on the matter believe that Blend with Shadows couldn’t be the same as Light Bending because the lack of light made that task impossible.”

“So you agree with the concept that darkness is nothing more than the absence of light, and that shadow is nothing more than those areas where light is unable to penetrate fully.”

Annie took a moment to scratch at the corner of her mouth with her right index finger nail. “I know what Normal science says, but you and I both know that Normal science is often at odds with Aware magic and superscience.” She nodded her head slightly to the right. “Knowing what I know of The Art and spell crafting, and having a working knowledge of Shadow Ribbons, I’m certain there’s more to shadows than a simple lack of light.”

A smile appeared on Isis’ face. “Right you are. As you know from your understanding of Shadow Ribbons, a shadow is insubstantial and has substance simultaneously: it’s simply a matter of being able to craft the spell so that one can make the best of both.” Isis slipped into a moment of thought. “You haven’t gotten to the spell yet, but do you understand the concept behind Shadow Cage?”

Annie gave a quick nod. “Yes. The concept seems similar to Hammerspace in that you create a hidden pocket within the shadow.”

“That’s correct. You’re actually creating a bubble of space within an area that may be only a few centimeters deep. Like you say: the concept is very similar to that of Hammerspace and that you’re creating a pocket storage area pretty much out of nothing.

“Blend with Shadows is a little different in that you’re not creating a pocket within the shadows, but rather—” Isis searched her memory for a few seconds. “Imagine a sheer wall thirty meters high yet only about five centimeters thick. Now imagine you had not learned Levitation or Adhesion, yet you’ve decided you want to walk the length of the wall, which is a couple of hundred meters long.” Isis eyed Annie hard. “How could you walk from one end of the wall to the other?”

There were only two possible solutions that Annie saw to this problem. “You can either walk along the base of the wall, or you could carefully walk along the top of the wall.

Isis nodded. “Those are the two most obvious solutions. But you missed the third: what is it?”

 

This is one of those scenes where I really had to figure out what is actually happening in magic and how it’s being visualized.  It’s what I did in the Transformation class and I’m now doing with Advanced Spells–and this is one of the reasons writing goes slow at times.  ‘Cause making this stuff isn’t always easy.

This should finish up tomorrow, which means I’ll still be five or six thousand words ahead of you, and then–

Oh, wait:  I’m gonna be under snow tomorrow.  Should have plenty of time to write.

Ground Rules For the Darkness

Here I am, once again, doing the blogging thing after a Saturday of political fun and going to the movies.  The political stuff was interesting, though there was one dude who decided that all our talk of women’s abortion rights was leaving him feeling a bit “excluded”, which I took to mean he didn’t want to hear about it.  In the movie going stuff involved to meeting a friend for a quick dinner at a Japanese noodle restaurant and then watching Hidden Features at an old theater next door.

A shot from where we sat in the balcony. Be Jelly.

Once again there wasn’t any writing last night, but I’ve made up for that by doing almost six hundred words this morning and will likely do more tonight, bringing the day to thousand word total.  Oh, and if started on the new scene which deals with the time spells Wednesday is going to teach in her Advanced Spells class.

See? Not lying.

In the meantime were back in the Witch House with Isis and Annie having a quaint conversation while Helena looks on.  And the discussion has to do with the spell Blend With Shadows, which Annie wants to learn…

 

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

Isis tipped her right index finger toward the girl. “Right you are on both accounts. Helena approached me last week and asked if I’d help out: she figured in three weeks time I can give you enough of the fundamentals that you’d likely be able to perform the spell on your own without difficulty.” She took a moment to adjust her stylish red glasses and brushed a strand of hair from her face. “The only condition I gave Helena  is I’d like to be out here by twenty forty-five at the latest so I can get back to the residence and spend some time with Wednesday.”

“I don’t have an issue there.” She cast a satisfied glance in Helena’s direction. “I feel three weeks of instruction should be enough time. Is that what you feel as well?”

Helena nodded. “Given how quickly you picked up Shadow Ribbons I don’t see you having an issue with this.” She scratched her forehead just above her left eyebrow. “Of course, it’s entirely up to you as to how comfortable you are with the pace of Isis’ instruction.”

“It shouldn’t be an issue.” Isis shook her head. “Since we’ve worked together before Annie is familiar with how I teach.”

“And since I didn’t have a problem last year, I don’t imagine I’ll have another this year.” Annie smiled broadly as she turned to Helena. “Are you going to observe, or are you going to try to learn the spell as well?”

“Observe only.” Helena hooked her thumbs in the belt loops of her black jeans. “Though I’m adapt with the other spells in the Shadow Disciplines, this Blend with Shadows shit is, quite frankly, spooky as fuck, and that makes it something with which I’d rather not deal.”

Annie was somewhat shocked to hear Helena say she found a certain spell somewhat “spooky”. She was aware the head sorceress knew nearly every Morte spell as well as a dozen other spells that one could use to kill another person, so it was a bit disconcerting to hear her admit there was a spell that made her uncomfortable. “But it doesn’t bother you to be here while we’re practicing, does it?”

“Oh, hell no.” Helena gave her head a quick shake. “I don’t mind watching; I just don’t want to walk in the shadows like you two.” She gave Isis a wave of her hand as she headed toward the table. “She’s all yours. Have fun.”

“Oh, we will.” Isis turned Annie with a mischievous sparkle in her eye. “First off: tell me what you know about Blend with Shadows.”

 

You have to find it interesting that there is a spell that Helena finds “spooky as fuck”.  This is a woman who can kill without a moment’s hesitation, but she’s slightly creeped out by the fact that someone at the school can actually become one with the shadows and move among them without being detected.  Which makes you wonder: if and when Annie learns the spell–and the odds are more “when” than “if”–how Helena’s going to act around her since Annie will be able to do the same shadow blending.  Does this mean there will be times when Annie hides in a shadow at the Witch House so she can sneak up on Helena and yell “Boo!”  Won’t that be a lot of fun?

Then again, I know it Annie’s going to wear as her costume for the Samhain dance, so maybe being able to walk in the shadows will fit perfectly with her character.

Which means right now you’re probably wondering what she’s going wear…

The Ins and Outs of Guardianship

By now it’s pretty obvious that the stuff that started out Act Three thirty thousand words ago (yep, it’s that many, and a little more) is now coming home to roost.  And since Helena came over to give the kids the “good” news, chances are she got all her wishes granted.  It’s just like she’s Dorothy and she traveled to the Emerald City to get her wishes granted by The Wizards, only somewhere along the way she ditched those other three losers and probably realized that Glenda the Good Witch was the bitch who actually needed to get put down, so she smoked her, too.

After all, I’d bet any amount of money Helena has taken down a fair share of witches in her time, so notching Glenda wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  But I digress . . .

In fact, this situation with the Guardians is going to take up some of the bulk of Act Three–namely Parts Eleven and Twelve, and all the chapters therein.

It just looks like a lot--and trust me, it probably is.

It just looks like a lot–and trust me, it probably is.

The good thing is, once this creeping and peeping stuff is out of the way, there’s only two more parts, and those deal with the end of school and Annie and Kerry heading home and breaking up for the summer and not seeing each other and . . . hey, do I know how to end a novel on an upbeat note?

Trust me, it won’t be that bad.

But let’s get back to the spook stuff at hand.  I didn’t quite make my NaNo word count for the day yesterday–mostly because I spent about six hours on the road and I was pretty beat last night–but I managed to push it over a thousand words, and now I’m only forty-five hundred words from fifty, and that means that while I’m likely going to make my word count for this NaNo, it’s not going to be anything to write home about.  However, my word count starting from last year’s NaNo is about 340,000 words, so what’s another fifty, right?

What’s the story here, Cassie?  Well, Helena’s being a secretive witch, and she’s got herself and three other people locked up in her office in the lower levels of the Witch House, and she’s doing her spiel . . .

 

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

It was only after the room was sealed that Helena spoke to the other three members who’d gathered. “Before we get into the matters of why were are here and whether or not certain people will agree to do something . . .” She looked hard at Annie and Kerry as she walked past their chairs on her way to the chair behind the desk. “I have to make this clear: what is said in this room today stays in this room. If in five minutes time we decide not to move forward, neither of you—” She pointed across the desk at both children. “—are to ever admit this meeting happened, or that we ever gathered on this date and time.” She sat, glanced at Erywin sitting to her left, then turned back to the real reason she was here. “I hope I’m clear on this matter.”

Annie leaned on the left arm of her chair. “I understand completely, Professor.”

Kerry nodded slowly. “Same here.”

 

You were never here, this never happened . . . always a great way to start out a meeting.  What else is happening, Sunshine?

 

“Good. Now, according to protocol I’m permitted to give you some light specifics on why I’ve ordered you here, and the meaning behind my statement last night.” She sat back and forced herself to relax. “Difference factions of The Foundation pour over our student reports combing them for talent. In case you hadn’t thought about what happens outside these walls, talent is prized by The Foundation, and while there are a number of other schools in the system, this is the one they look to the most, because only those whom we believe will become the best students in are allowed through Founder’s Gate.

“The one organization that examines us the closest is the Guardians. The reasons are simple: not only do we produce the best witches, but we also produce the best sorceresses—and being a great sorceress is a must if you want to become a Guardian. Knowing sorcery—in particular, knowing Morte spells—is the main requirement for being a Guardian, because we’re the ones walking in the shadows dealing with nefarious shit that we hope never becomes known to the Normals. And I say ‘we’ because I’m still a Guardian with a field operative rating—and I’ve handled my fair share of nefarious shit over the last two decades.

“The Guardians not only cherry pick our students records, but if they find someone they like, they contact the people in charge and ask for additional information on them, always in the form of a detailed report. If they like what they see there, then they take the step of requesting access to the student for a few days—usually no more than that—and they take them out into the field to see how they operate in either a test environment, or on an actually field operation.”

Helena set her elbows on the arms of her chair and leaned forward. “That’s why you’re here. The Guardians saw the reports on you and wanted additional information. They were given that information a few weeks ago, and now they want to see what you can do.” Once again she glanced at Erywin before looking back at Annie and Kerry. “They don’t want to test you; they want to send you on a field operation.”

 

You get too good in this world and you end up getting to play Secret Witch.  Aren’t they lucky?

She lays out all the stuff that she pretty much already laid out for Gabriel and Mathilde, and though she never mentions this to the kids.  She also lets them know that one of the reasons Erywin is her second is because she knows people–she’s a counselor and the school’s LGBT adviser–and it’s her job to figure out if the kids are, as Helena puts it, “mature enough to handle something like this.”  Which was a concern she brought up once, but not to Annie and Kerry.

Finally we get to the last bit, the thing that determines where we go with this . . .

 

Helena stood and came around to the other side of the desk. She leaned against the edge directly in front of Annie and Kerry. “Now we get to the important part: your participation. And here’s where it gets tricky, kids, because no matter what I’ve said up to this about what I’ve done to ensure that this mission won’t screw you right into the ground, nothing happens if one or you both invoke your Right of Refusal.”

As she expected Annie said nothing, while Kerry asked the question. “What’s that?”

“It’s simple. You are both minors, and remain so until you’re eighteen, the Age of Majority. Now, under extraordinary circumstances The Foundation can conscript sixteen and seventeen year olds for operations, but that in no way affects you. You’re twelve and eleven, and about the only way they could get you out into the field would be to kidnap you and make you do it against your will.” She didn’t tell them she suspected that could happen if the wrong people got desperate . . .

“That means you have Right of Refusal, and that means if you say ‘no’, then you’re finished, your not involved, there’s the door, see you around, and remember not to tell anyone you were ever here. If, on the other hand, you say ‘yes’, then you sign non-disclosure forms, we pull out the data, and we start putting the operation together.” She looked from Annie to Kerry before focusing on a point between them. “So what’s it going to be? Are you in, or are you out?”

 

And that’s where I ended it, because I know what they’re going to say, and you’re likely know what they’re going to say as well, otherwise I’d find myself writing something else.  And as I mentioned, I was tired, so I didn’t need to write the next part–

At least not last night.

It’s a new day, though.  Looks like I have a few thousand words to work out today.

 

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/17:  1,232

NaNo Total Word Count:  45,460

Dancers in the Dark: Away Into the Shadows

Chapter Twenty-Five is over and done, and the shadows had their say.  More or less.  You’ll have to continue reading to see what I mean.

Not only is the chapter done, but I’ve made some modifications to the rest of Part Eight, getting it set up for how I want to write the remaining part of Act Two.  As you can see . . .

It's always better with pictures.

It’s always better with pictures.

I’ve decided to move one scene up to the next chapter, and to actually delete a scene.  Why that one?  Because, in thinking about what happens there, it breaks the flow of the story, and I can actually show what happens there through conversation in two other following scenes.  It also sets up a nice transition, because Frisco Bound has Kerry arrived in San Francisco, and his last thoughts in the scene is right about now Annie should be waking up . . . and then break to the next chapter and Morning in Pamporovo, and guess who’s waking up?

Yeah, that’s how you do it.

But how did that chapter end?  Well, I had my kids dancing before a dying fire, and there was more on Kerry’s mind, it would seem, that a dance from a month before . . .

 

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

They grew close, one hand inside another, Kerry’s free hand around Annie’s waist with her other hand wrapped up and over Kerry’s right shoulder. They swayed back in forth in the shadows in front of the sofa, the dying fire to one side, and the nearly dark commons on the other. Neither spoke for almost a minute as they enjoyed the closeness and intimacy. Annie didn’t want to lose the moment—and she suspected that Kerry was still deep in thought.

She finally decided she had to know if Kerry was thinking about the same thing that had been on her mind for a few days. “What are you thinking about?”

This time he gave here a direct answer. “Yule holiday.”

He doesn’t say Christmas anymore. Annie pressed her head into his shoulder and smiled. “You’re thinking about being apart, aren’t you?”

Kerry nodded. “Yeah.”

Annie ran her hand up and down his shoulder. “I’ve been thinking about it as well.”

“Day after Boxing Day is our four month anniversary.”

“You’re keeping track?” She didn’t want to tell him that she knew this as well.

He laid his head against hers and let his voice drop to a whisper. “Every since the first month we were here—” His chuckle was so low as to be almost inaudible. “That was your birthday, after all.”

He realized; he knew all along. She wanted to put his mind at ease, even if her own wasn’t there. “It’s only going to be a couple of weeks.” Annie raised her head so she could gazed upon Kerry’s face and look into his eyes. “You’ll get to see your grandparent again, and I’ll be back home.” She rested her head against his shoulder once more. “I’m actually looking forward to seeing my parents. I told my father I’d have grown by the time I come home for Yule—”

“And you have. Maybe an inch.”

She thumped him lightly on the back of his shoulder. “Silly. That’s not what they meant.”

 

Yeah, you know what they mean, slick.  But she noticed that her birthday was the first month they were physically together–and I noticed it, too, last night while I was looking something up.  That’s one of the reasons I put dates on everything, and as I was getting the date they met in the bookstore in London, I realized, “Hey, that was a month before Annie’s birthday.”

27 August to 27 September.  I wasn't lying.

27 August to 27 September. I wasn’t lying.

But now that the missing and stuff is out in the open, what next?  Well . . .

 

“I know.” He glanced up the stairs past the mezzanine commons to the unseen entrance to the First Floor where there rooms were. “But we’ve gotta go to sleep soon.”

Annie slowly stepped away from Kerry. At first she followed his gaze up the stairs, then her eyes settled on the sofa. “What if we sat here for a while before heading up?”

Kerry stood next to Annie and let his eyes wander over the sofa. “We might get sleepy here.”

“It’s possible.”

“And . . .” He pointed to both ends of the sofa. “There are pillows and comforters here.”

Annie said nothing for a few moments, allowing the implications of the ideas they were considering settle. “It’s not like anyone ever slept here.”

Kerry picked up two pillows and laid them at one end of the sofa. “Otherwise why would they have this here?”

Annie picked up a comforter and spread it out. “Only makes sense.”

“It certainly does.” Kerry waited for Annie to pull the comforter back before laying down and pressing himself against the sofa back.

 

Hey, you kids:  what are you doing?  I’d say they’re getting ready to go to sleep . . .

 

Annie lay next to her soul mate on here right side, her back against him. She reached down and pulled the comforter over them, snuggling it over their shoulders and around their necks. “You know we could get detention—”

“I know.” He slid his left arm over her waist. “We’ll just have to get up about five or so and head up to our rooms.”

“That isn’t a problem.” She sighed as she watched the fire go out. “You’re not worried?”

Kerry rubbed his nose through Annie’s hair. “If we get detention . . .” He pulled back her hair and kissed her behind the ear. “It’s worth it.”

She took his left hand and held it tight. “A month ago you wouldn’t have said that.”

“A month ago I was only starting to know how I felt about you.” As the fire finally died and the embers began to smolder, Kerry brushed Annie’s cheek. “Good night, Annie. I love you.”

She touched the back of his hand. “Leka nosht, Kerry. I az te obicham.”

They relaxed and closed their eyes, Kerry’s arm once more around Annie’s waist, her hand still in his.

They drifted towards their dreams as the shadows embraced and held them tight . . .

 

And there they go, zero shits given if someone stumbles across them on a Sunday morning–which, traditionally, is a time to sleep in, so if they sneak up to their rooms on a floor they share with no one else, all should be right in the world.

I’m sure the shadows will tell them if someone comes.

Shadow Lab

The action in the story returns to the somewhat infamous lab my kids have in the sub-levels of their home away from home, Cernunnos Tower.  And, for the first time in two chapters and a dozen scenes–I know because I counted them–the scene is told from Kerry’s point of view.  That’s unusual, but given that he spent nearly the time in one chapter in a coma, expected.

This time, however, he’s only sleeping on the sofa in the lab when Annie shows up with great news.  Well, she’s happen he at least wakes up, but there’s better news:  she learned a spell!  And she wants to show it to him.  What’s it all about?

Shadows.

Different shadows, guys.  Sorry.

Different shadows, guys. Sorry.

And it makes up a good part of what I wrote last night:

 

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

Annie stepped near the mid-point of the table and looked about the room as she adjusted the ambiance. “Lights, low.” The lighting dropped to something akin to the illumination they would have with a low fire. Annie moved towards a collection of shadows in the corner farthest from the sofa. “This is what you can do with shadow magic.”

She stood before the collection of shadows and spread her hands out before her, as if she were smoothing out an invisible sheet. She did it twice more, then began making a pattern on the invisible sheet with her fingers. Annie continued laying out her pattern, then slowly lifted her hands the slightest bit—

A section of the shadow darkened and coalesced before it parted from the rest of the mass and floated towards Annie’s outstretched hands. The section was maybe a half a meter long and ten centimeters wide, but from where Kerry stood, it seemed as if whatever his sweetie had created had no visible thickness.

The segment of shadow hovered a few centimeters from Annie’s fingers. She didn’t look away from her creation as she brought up the light to medium illumination; while the other shadows grew dim in the brighter light, the one hovering before Annie remained dark and solid.

She skimmed the shadow through the air towards Kerry and brought it to a hover about twenty centimeter in front of the amazed boy. Annie lowered her hands and approached. “How do you like that?”

 

Short and sweet, with a bit of a lead-in about what Kerry was working on for Ostara.  Actually, I’m trying to keep them all short and sweet at this point, but there are still a lot of scenes to write–and one or two that might just get the ax before I get to them.  I’ve got one in my sights right now . . .

You can guess which one of these, 'cause there's no guessing with me.

You can guess which one of these, ’cause there’s no guessing with me.

That’s my evening and I’m sticking to it.  I have something in mind for tomorrow, and since I’ll be on the road most of the day I’ll likely need to write that tonight.  And since I have to run out and fill up my silver beast . . . I know just the place to do that.

Playing With Shadows

This long week is almost over.  Travel Day today, and it’s looking like it’ll be a good day.  I might not even think too much about the fools on the road this afternoon when I’m making the trek back to the Real Home.

Even though I had copious amounts of fuzzy head yesterday, I got into Diners at the Memory’s End, and I kept at that sucker.  I didn’t want to stop.  Well, a couple of times, it felt like I wasn’t making any headway, but that was shaken off.  Slowly, yes, but shaken it was, yes.  I have my goals, you know?  Writer’s gotta write.

But fun was being had last night.  I’d forgotten–me?–that in the original version of the story, after the telescopes were in the process of being set up, and Albert and Meredith were waiting for the fun to happen, they were playing a game.  Of course, “playing” is a loose term, as they were virtually immersed inside a first-person shooter.  Back then I had them wearing pretty simple gear with electromagnetic shields, fighting against some alien creature I just made up on the spur of the moment.

That was twenty years gone, however, and I’ve picked up on a few things since then.  One, I made the world much bigger.  Two, I put them both in powered armor because–hey, powered armor equals big guns.  Lastly, though, I gave them Shadows to play with . . .

If you ever watched Babylon 5, you remember Shadows:  usually invisible black spider-like creatures that was four-square for chaos and death.  Sort of like head crabs in Half-Life, only these take your body as well when they attack.  Since all they want is to see you dead–or be their bitch, whichever seems like more fun to them–they make for a worthy foe to face and mow down.

It was actually fun to write last night.  Albert in his sort of hulking Forever War-style suit, with a huge gun in one hand and twin pulse lasers on each shoulder, and Meredith in her sleeker, faster, more nimble Bubblegum Crisis-style suit–with high heels, naturally–up against the creatures that inhabit the shadows.  Throw in some crazy music I was listening to right before bed, and the slaughter of the big, black bugs becomes something of a surreal experience.

It was while I was listening to said music last night that I realized the game really sets up Meredith what comes later in the scene.  The game lets her get her inner bad ass out and on display, and that boosts her confidence, and . . . well, one thing will lead to another, you know?  She’s never been like this before, never been allowed to take the stage and shine, and with everything else she’s dealing with in her life (which comes out later in the story), this becomes her moment to take some real action.

Shadows are everywhere, sometimes making you do things you shouldn’t do.  Including  them in at this point in the story seems right, because it opens up something else that will take the story in another direction and–corrupt it?  Naw.  Maybe that’s to harsh a word.

Maybe just darken it a tiny bit . . .