Here we are, back again with most wordage, because last night I did write, and write a lot–well, eleven hundred words, so that’s a lot for me. Tonight, probably not as much, because The Third Man is on at 8 PM and I don’t miss that movie, but Saturday I’ll write again. And again. And again.
A nice little benchmark was reached last night as well: the novel went over fifty thousand words.
Now, since I do keep track of these things, the novel passed forty thousand words on 14 May, which is–let me do the math–fourteen days before 28 May. That means I wrote ten thousand or so words in two weeks, or five thousand a week, which is a number I’m pretty steady with. And if you can keep that up for a year, then you finish with a quarter of a million word novel. Which is what this should become in time. Yes, I’m nuts.
Where did we leave off? With Jessica asking about scary things about people who do transformation magic. And what do my kids say? Well . . .
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
Kerry was unable to say that he’d noticed this simply because he was only around magic while at school, and didn’t get to see it full time, but Annie was able to comment. “I’ve not only noticed, but I’ve heard stories from my grandparents about Bulgarian shapeshifters.”
“Do you know when they were born?”
“All of them were born in the early 1920s, I believe.”
Jessica brushed her hair back over her shoulders. “Did they go to school here?”
“Yes, they did, save for my mother’s father: he attended a school outside Varna.” Annie half turned towards Kerry as she spoke, getting back on point. “They used to tell me about witches pretending to be vǎrkolak, who would go around frightening and even killing people—”
The word Annie used was something Kerry had never heard before. “What’s that?”
“That word: vǎra—”
“Vǎrkolak. It’s a kind of werewolf which is also like a vampire in that it’s supposed to be undead.” She chuckled. “A great number of the stories from our area about the undead and werewolves are actually about witches who were experts with transformation magic.” Annie faced Kerry. “If you hadn’t figured it out, nearly every folk story about strange creatures came about because of transformation magic.”
That little bit of research took me about fifteen minutes of looking around, because I wanted to make sure I got the name right. And as far as Annie’s family tree is concerned–yes, I know exactly when her grandparents on both sides of the family were born. But yes: Bulgaria has undead werewolves. Let that sink in for a bit.
Now that Kerry knows this bit of information–see what having a Bulgarian girlfriend does for you?–he can return to Jessica’s original question–
He nodded slowly while his smile grew. “Yeah, I kind of figured that.” He also figured this was the point Jessica was making. “Is that what you meant? About people being scared of people who can do that stuff?”
Jessica nodded. “That’s part of it.” She rested her elbows on her thighs as she leaned forward. “People are always scared by those things that don’t appear normal—and that’s not found just in the Normal community. Even people who are used to seeing unusual things every day are put off by people like me.” She rubbed her fingertips together. “Do you remember the first day of Transformation class last year when I changed into Mystique?”
It was a moment that Kerry remembered well. “Yes. That was pretty great.”
“Thank you: it took me a while to figure out how to do her.” Jessica lowered her voice slightly, even though there wasn’t anyone else in the room who could hear them. “Did you notice the faces of some of the students in the room.”
“Not really: I was—”
“I did.” Once again Annie had the answer Jessica sought. “A lot of the students were shocked.”
Kerry half-shrugged. “That’s to be expected; it’s one thing to see that in a movie, and another to see it in real life.”
“My point exactly, Kerry. I dare say it was the first strange magic everyone in that class saw after arriving at school, and it unnerved a few.” Jessica chuckled darkly. “Didn’t bother you, though.”
“Naw. I mean—” He switched his gaze from Jessica to Annie and back to the instructor. “I’m used to reading about that stuff, so I thought it was sort of cool.”
As a kid from a Normal background who is also a big geek, Kerry has a lot of pop culture knowledge, and he’s already joked about people with “mutant powers” at the school. As Jessica is about to point out, much of that may be the reason for his competency in transformation magic–and his feelings about the “coolness” of this crafting leads her to the main point of this discussion–
One of the reasons why he’s likely drawn to transformation magic in the first place. Jessica nodded slowly. “There is a downside to this magic for the person who does the crafting, however. I know you read a great deal: have you ever read All My Sins Remembered?”
He slipped back into his thoughts for a moment. “No. Who’s it by?”
“The guy who wrote The Forever War?”
“Okay. Nope, never read it.”
Jessica found this news a bit surprising, but she didn’t bring Annie and him here to discuss his reading habits. “It’s about someone who works for a galactic organization as a spy, and they spend the majority of their time living as other people then they go out on missions.” A scowl appeared for only a moment. “Having to live as other people and do—things—takes a psychological toll on the main character . . .” She didn’t want to give away the ending in case Kerry decided to read the novel, so she went ahead with the real reason for this talk. “I know the Guardians are interested in you both—”
Annie sighed. “Who doesn’t know this?”
At this point Annie’s probably wondering how secret their secret mission was. Actually . . . pretty secret.
“My guess is nearly all the students, and I’m certain a few of them managed to put the clues together. It was impossible not to notice you both meeting privately with Helena and Erywin, and then the four of you vanishing for a weekend . . .” Jessica’s face took on the icy composure she usually maintained during class. “It doesn’t matter: the expressions on your faces are enough to know that you know. And now that you’re both Gifted—” She clicked her tongue twice. “Those gifts are going to come in handy.
“Here’s what I really wanted to bring up: Kerry, the Guardians not only want sorceresses, but anyone with excellent transformation crafting is desired as well. And with you being a Mimic, you’ll likely find them interested in making you an Infiltrator—” Jessica saw the changed come over both children. “—and given the way your expressions changed, it’s obvious you understand what I mean.
“If that’s what they want for you—and for Annie, too, if she proves as good with transformation magic as you—then you’ll find yourself like the character in Sins: always going out on mission having to live someone else’s life. And this is one of the things that scares people who can’t do transformation crafting: how is it possible to change so much and still be yourself?
“And the answer to that is: sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you do lose track of yourself, and it puts a psychological strain on your mind.” Jessica’s expression turned towards one of sadness. “I won’t lie: some excellent transformists have gone insane because they became lost in the people and things they portrayed, and it’s a fear we all run into now and then.”
Her sigh was long and felt as if it were felt with sorrow. “You’re both good kids, and I don’t ever want to see bad things happen to you, so I will give you this little bit of advice: never lose sight of who you are—hold on to your identity.” Jessica finally cracked a smile. “I don’t like to use cartoon philosophy to describe such an important matter, but it works in this instance.”
She reached out and took Annie and Kerry’s hands. “Hold onto your identity and remember who you are, because there’s no one else like you two, and I’d hate like hell to lose either of you.” She gave them both a soft, slight shake. “I’ll show you how to do that the best I can. I promise: I won’t let you get lost.”
Yes, children, take the advice of Elastigirl and make sure you keep your identity–though I don’t believe you’ll need to wear masks or anything like that. This is more in line with Helena’s beliefs that a good sorceress keeps their wits about them, because the chances are they’ve found themselves in the middle of some deep shit, and they need to stay alive. In Jessica’s case, she’s saying you need to remember who you are when you’re out there pretending to be someone else, because it’s easy to lose your mind.
And now we see another word come up: Infiltrator. Since it’s related to the Guardians, we can sorta guess that it has to do with sneaking into places while looking like someone who belongs there. Or, you know, something even more devious. But being able to look like anyone you want–and being great sorceresses–makes these kids even more valuable to the Guardians. It’s now a question of whether or not that’s a good thing. Hummm . . . we’ll see.
One last thing: yesterday during some discussions in comments the question came up about classes. Specifically, what classes are the kids taking, and how many are there? And wouldn’t you know, I have a list:
The list on the left is what the kids took during their A Levels, and the list on the right is their current B Level schedules, with all of Annie’s and Kerry’s classes set up in bold. I’ll speak about this a little more tomorrow, so I’m sort of teasing you with things to come.
Just like I did with the title of this post.