Visualizing the Unseeable Flow

Here it is, Sunday, and I’ve been hard at work since about six this morning.  Yesterday I bought a program that will allow me to do videos of what is on my computer screen while I’m working, so this means that video I’ve wanted to do on Dragon will become that much easier to create and put up on the blog.  You can expect to see that sometime soon–and you going to get a little treat along with that, because I’m actually going to write in the novel as I’m demonstrating Dragon.  Call it spoilers if you will.

Speaking of the novel and the current scene… When I said during the yesterday’s video that I expected to current scene run maybe two thousand words or so, I lied.  I’m already past two thousand words and I’m now expecting it to run maybe another thousand before I’m finished. I also checked the timeline on Chapter Ten for the novel and found that I started five weeks ago, back in the middle of February.  Based on these dates, it’s likely this is the longest I’ve worked on a chapter in any of these three novels.

In Friday’s post we had Kerry getting ready to teach Advanced Spells all about time.  Well, he’s up in front of the class having a few last thoughts…

 

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

 

He rolled his eyes as he faced his audience. On his far left sat the two new B Levels, Naomi and Subhan. To Subhan’s left sat Pang, and on his left was Kerry’s empty chair. Though Naomi had the option to cluster herself with the rest of the girls, she stated that she felt more comfortable sitting with someone from her own level.

To the left of his empty chair sat Annie, looking at him with friendly intensity. Nadine sat next to her, and to the ginger girls left sat Regina and Serafina respectively. Kerry knew he didn’t have to worry about any of these girls, though last year Serafina made it known that she wasn’t all that interested in time spells and he half expected her to ignore him for most of this class.

 

What Kerry is doing is very similar to something I used to do when I taught. Yes, way back in the early 1980s I actually taught computer classes. Let me tell you, it can be a bit intimidating getting up in front of a bunch of students who are looking to you for the answers–or who really don’t give a shit if you have anything to say.  And I was far older than Kerry at the time, so you can imagine how he’s feeling.

Fortunately, he knows most everybody there, so getting started doesn’t seem to be much of a problem–

 

He stared at the floor in front of his empty seat for a few moments before looking up. “I find time to be an interesting concept. Not just from the point of view of someone who enjoys reading stories about time travel and time manipulation, but also from the point of view of someone who has come to somewhat understand how it can be manipulated.” A smile crossed his face as he scanned his fellow classmates. “Also, given how long all of us will live, I guess you could say we’re already cheating time before we even learn how to cheat time.

“What makes time spells so tricky, at least to my way of thinking, is that it’s difficult to visualize how to craft the spells necessary to pull off various effects. I mean, it’s difficult enough for some people to pull off what we now consider simple spells and even some of us have trouble with crafting the more difficult spells due to their concepts, so it’s not completely out of the question that understanding time is going to be an easy thing.

“As all of us now know, time is not always a simple progression of cause to affect—and, no: I’m not going to tell you what I think it is because all of you’ve already heard my explanation.” He flashed a quick smile around the room at the relieved looks of students who didn’t want to hear about timey whimy balls of stuff. “Though right now I know how to accelerate and slow down time, I’m not quite as good as those witches who have actually learned how to stop and reverse it. But, I think slowing it down and speeding it up are more important to us right now.

“One of the really interesting things about time spells is that they can have an introvert effect on objects in physical space—and those effects can be harmful. Let me show you something.” He turned towards Wednesday. “You ready to be my handy assistant?”

Wednesday conjured a small box of yellow tennis balls that popped into existence near her right waist and floated alongside. “I’m all set, Teach.”

 

I’m sure there was a point in Kerry’s life where he was lying on his bed in his dorm in the coven tower, staring at the ceiling, thinking, “Man, all those years of watching Doctor Who have finally paid off.”  Though it probably wasn’t just this show they got them started on the concepts of working with and bending time; I’m sure he got a bit of an education reading ‘—All You Zombies—’ by Robert A. Heinlein, a story he wrote in one day on 11 July, 1958.  That story, along with another, By His Bootstraps, were full of quirky paradoxes which shouldn’t happen, but did within the stories.  Heinlein love playing with time paradoxes, and these two create some of the most fantastic paradoxes ever.

And in terms of how time can be affected at the School of Salem, these are likely paradoxes that one would not want to have happen to them.  Helena learned the hard way that one needs to avoid paradoxes, and through geek culture Kerry is probably quite aware of how poorly things turn out when you go back in time to inform your past self of something they should or shouldn’t do.  It’s quite likely he knows that playing with time that way is quite similar to what happens when you try to manipulate the present to either bring about or prevent a future vision you’ve had.  As Dan has pointed out, without a frame of reference from which to work, it’s highly likely that whatever you are setting out to do will never happen.

Now, comes the obligatory warning: the excerpt you get tomorrow is going to be full of science.  Sure, there’s magic, but sometimes that magic comes with a sprinkling of science–

So says the writer who has a girl who can fly.

Changes In Fictional Creativity

Well, then, I’m finally here with a continuation of the story.  This scene has been a killer, and I’ll tell you why:  it’s the end of the year, and I’m tired.  Really tired.  Like I could use a week in bed tired.  This has happened before, and will happen again, so there’s no point in going on about it, right?  At least I got a good night’s sleep last night:  I even went to bed early because I was crashing and burning hard.

Where am I, then?  Well . . .

Right about here.

Right about here.

Almost seven hundred words last night, which is better for me given all the crap that’s happened this week.  And that brings up to a point in the story where little transforming minions are about to strut their stuff . . .

 

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

Annie began the lesson. She explained how her skill in Minor Inanimate Change required her to be in contact with the object, but that she wasn’t limited to changing small objects: if the change wasn’t too extreme, she could change the color and texture of certain articles of clothing. She demonstrated by putting on a white lab coat and changing the color three times, from white to blue to aqua and finally yellow. She explained how, for her, visualization was the most important part of crafting, and that when see “saw” the how she wanted to object she was trying to change to look, she always “heightened” it in her mind’s eye. “When I change the colors, I don’t see them as you see them, I visualize them brighter and bolder than they’ll appear once the spell’s fully crafted.”

She started walking around the lab explaining how bright and bold colors and textures were easy to do once you developed the proper visualization techniques, and every thirty to forty seconds Annie would change the color or created minor texture changes. She admitted that texture was tough to do unless you understood how a particular material felt—and to drive home she point she changed the lab coat into a lovely creamy silk. “I own two pair of silk pajamas and several silk camisoles so this one is easy—” As she headed back to the front of the room she changed the coat back to simple white cotton. “But I don’t know wool, so trying to give this a wool texture would be difficult, if not impossible, for me.”

Once back in front of the class she changed back into her school jacket before heading into the second part of her discussion. “Smaller objects aren’t any easier to modify: if anything, it’s more important to pay attention to detail, because people tend to notice imperfections in tiny things.” She held up here right hand. “This morning I put clear lacquer on my nails because if you want to change something small that you’re also touching . . .” Her nails changed from their normal, non-painted color to a vivid red. “Fingernails are a good way to practice your crafting.”

Like before, while Annie walked around the room she changed her nail color once every minute. “The important thing here is to know the object well, and to see it in your memory many times larger than it is in real life. That way when you want to do things that are more intricate—” She stopped and closed her eyes while holding out her hands with her fingers spread wide. In seconds her nails changed from a light pink to a bright gold base that slowly developed into ombre gradient with dark silver tips. “You can let your creativity flow.”

 

I could never imagine Annie wearing anything wool right now, but silk?  Oh, yeah.  She that sort of girl–some might say a spoiled little rich girl, but she’s a lot more than that.  Okay, so I did once call her a Bulgarian Pop Princess, but it was meant with love . . .

It probably took just over an hour to write that part above, mostly because I have to do my own visualization–just like my witches–when I’m writing.  I play the scene out in my head like a movie, and I did that here, watching Annie walk around the lab, first in her Technicolor Labcoat before switching over to her lesson on nail care–and if we remember a few scenes from last year, she knows all about that.  She’s always so assured and confident, thought Kerry knows it can slip away at times.

This is also good because you can see how fast Annie works as well.  She’s not only crafting quickly, but while she’s doing other things.  She can walk, chew gum, and lay the magic on you all at the same time, and her levelmates should take this hint seriously, because when she’s in the ring with you, she’s only gonna have one thing on her mind, and that’s kicking your ass.  You’ll go down faster than the time it takes for her to do her nails.

Speaking of nails, the magical pretty she’s bringing gets the attention of a couple of people–

 

Linh Dam, Mórrígan student from Vietnam whose work space was adjacent to Emma’s raised her hand. “Can I see those?”

Annie shook her right hand as if she were drying the polish. “Certainly.” She strolled over and held out her hand for the girl to examine. “I like this one a lot, because I’m partial to metallic gold and silver polish.”

Linh closely examined Annie’s nails. “Wow, that’s fantastic. I do my own, but nothing as good as this.”  She blushed.  “Nothing with magic, either.”

Emma popped up out of her seat and leaned on the low wall of her cubical. “Can I see, too?”

Annie nodded. “Certainly.” She let Linh’s covenmate get a better look.

After a five second examination Emma sighed and leaned towards Linh. “I so want to learn this; then all I gotta do is buy top coat an I can change my nails as much as I like.”

Linh nodded as Annie stepped away from the girls. “Yes, I’d like to know that, too.” She looked towards Annie. “Can you do this without the top coat?”

“Well . . .” Annie slowly turned towards Kerry. “That would be a question for my fellow minion.”

 

Hummm . . . Emma wants to do her nails now.  Nope, not what you think.  After all, she’s gotta compete with the girl who just showed how fast she works, and Emma is not in her class.  Not at all.  At least Annie’s being nice to her.  And giving them a lot of tips–

"Annie's right:  all the simply things in life are better with magic!"

“Annie’s right: all the simply things in life are better with magic!”

But the question that comes up now is, “What’s Kerry gonna show?”  Well, I’m gonna show you tomorrow.  I think.  I should.  Probably.  No, really:  I will.

I promise.

Calling Upon Presentable Resources

Today feels like it’s gonna be different somehow.  For one, today is the tenth month I’ve been out at work as myself, and therefore I’ve been living true to myself, or as about as true as one can get, because there’s always things we can change to be better.  But I do feel pretty good–

I took a picture just for you guys.  Sorta.

I took a picture just for you guys. Sorta.

Oh, and I also have on pink, because it’s Wednesday, and we all know what we do on Wednesdays, right?  You don’t?  Get in the car; we’re going shopping.

There was also writing last night, nearly six hundred words.  This has been a hard scene to start, mostly because this is one of the first times I’ve went nearly a thousand words without any dialog.  In face, the first line of dialog appears near the end, about nine hundred words into the scene.  And what is going on?  Well, here’s what:

 

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

Since her students’ return from Yule holiday Jessica saw a visible drop in their ability to craft, but she knew this situation would clear soon; her experience with B Levels indicated that by the second or third week of February her students would settle down and regain their normal abilities. That sort of drop off might be fine for Wednesday and Erywin, but Jessica had a schedule to keep, and she needed all her little B Levels to put aside their fears and start crafting correctly right now . . .

That was why she reached out for some help.

This last Sunday after lunch Jessica approached Annie and Kerry and ask if they’d help out in the next B Level class. She knew they could craft the spells she wanted demonstrated, for Kerry had already master both early on in Advanced Transformation, and he’d confirmed he’d taught Annie the same well before they left on Yule holiday. She explained what she wanted, and what she hoped they would accomplish. She also let them know that their participation in her Tuesday afternoon class was completely voluntary: unlike Helena and Wednesday she’d never considered using people from her advanced class to come and work with students on their own level—

She wasn’t surprised that agreed to help.

Jessica began the with a twenty minutes on today’s lesson, which would involve starting to learn Minor Inanimate Change and Minor Personal Change. She had actually went over these spells with these same students right before last Ostara, and at that time no one was able to do the spell—well, almost no one. Kerry managed a simple Minor Personal Change during lab, and Annie accomplished Inanimate Change before she dismissed class. It wasn’t until later she discovered they’d begun working on both spells after they returned for the holidays, and mastered both well before they showing up for that particular class. Jessica hadn’t been surprised then: they were both driven to be not just good witches, but far more advanced than their fellow levelmates, and developing a mastery over those spells only seemed natural for them.

Annie and Kerry entered the classroom just before thirteen-thirty, and Jessica felt the atmosphere change before the door behind them clicked shut. She was aware of the hostility they’d encountered assisting in B Level Spells and Sorcery, and given that this was their first appearance in a B Level Transformation class since the start of school, Jessica expected a few students might likely object to the lesson plan, or even become surly and try to push back against instruction, but there wasn’t a chance in hell she was going to allow that to happen.

She let the class know that her two advanced students were there to help their fellow levelmates become proficient in the spells she’d lectured on today, and she expected the class to listen, to pay attention—and most of all, to learn.

“And with that—” Jessica took a single step back and held out her right arm towards the students standing off to one side of the class. “I’m going to turn the lesson over to . . . my minions.”

Annie and Kerry moved to the spot at the front of the class while Jessica leaned against her desk. Kerry and she went over their lesson plan that Sunday evening in their private lab, so there wasn’t any need to wonder what they were going to say and show.

If they could teach each other various kinds of advanced magic, they could teach what were now normal spells without a problem.

 

Now we know:  Jessica doesn’t like to ask people for help.  But at the same time she’s in a pinch and it’s time to ask for help, so she goes to the people she knows can help.  Oh, sure, she could have asked students from a different level, but if these kids can do the job, let them.  Also, if there’s someone who does what they damn well please, it’s Jessica–but then, that’s also every other instructor, too.  If I don’t get too hammered tonight–I promise I’ll stick to just two drinks–then I’ll get into what the kids are getting into, because it’ll be interesting to see how they teach their fellow students.

One last thing and then I’ll go and leave you alone . . . one of the things I like to harp on is that writing is work, and if you wanna get that novel out, you gotta write.  There’s nothing magical here:  fairies don’t come out and work on your computer when you’re asleep, nor do your characters actually write out the story for you.  It’s all on you, Bunkie, and if you want the words to appear on the screen, you gotta get your fingers to tap-tapping on the keyboard.

I did a quick check yesterday and found out how long I’d been working on B For Bewitching.  Counting last night, it’s been two hundred and thirty-five days.

I have the calculations right here.

I have the calculations right here.

I know I started this novel on 11 April because I made a point of noting this on my Facebook author’s page, so there are no mistakes.  Actually, I’ve probably worked closer to two hundred and twenty-five days on this novel, because I’m likely telling the truth when I say there are at least ten days that I wrote nothing.  But I’m not going to knock those days out of the calculations, because it’s time I could have spent writing even a hundred words, but didn’t.

Chuck Wendig, an author I like and admire, has stated many times before that if you write just five hundred words a night, in a year you’ll have a novel.  How big a novel?  Well, 500 words times 365 days = 182,500 words.  That’s a pretty good-sized novel.  I know:  I’m there now.

Actually I’m beyond that, because as of last night, my total word count was 195,038:

And another picture for you to examine.

And another picture for you to examine.

If we wanna do the math, 195,038 divided by 235 days = 830 words a day.  That’s my average, and it’s a good average given that I usually write a couple of hours a night, editing and sometimes doing research as I go along.  Today is day 236, and that means there are 130 more days until I’ve got one year down on his book, and if I can maintain a rate of eight hundred words a day, I’ll add another 104,000 words to the story.  That means, give or take a few hundred words here or there, this book could end up around three hundred thousand words and completed–the later of which is most important to me.

Writing is work.  You have to hone your craft by sitting down and getting the words out.  There are no easy ways about it:  you gotta put in the time, and you gotta sweat the product.  You got a story inside you, be it short or long, sit down and get it out.  If you do three hundred words a night–which is gonna be about an hour of your time–you’ll have three thousand words in ten days and close to ten thousand in a month.  That’s a good short story, and and if you wanna keep it up for a few more months you’ve got a nice novella.

But you gotta put in the seat time to get there.  This is why, rain or shine, feeling good or feeling bad, I sit and get some words into the story.

Because while my kids may be damn good witches, they don’t do jack when it comes to telling their own tale.

New Kids On the Job

We’re almost to the long weekend time here in America, and I’m a bit remiss in saying that yesterday was Canada Day, so to my friends North of The Wall I say, Sorry, So Sorry, I didn’t mean to miss you.  Also, today is I Forgot Day, so you have to forgive me.

In case you’re wondering today is also World UFO Day, and you should be watching some old 1950’s science fiction and, if you can find it, check out the late-60s television show The Invaders, which was scary as all hell.  And, of course, the British show UFO is a must:

The show that told me I should show up at work these days looking like this.  I should.  I really should.

The show that told me that in the future this is how women would look.  I should show up at work one day dressed like this. I really should.

Also some personal stuff that’s important to me is coming up as well, such as today is five months for me since I came out at work.  Almost half a year–yay!  So much is happening so quickly, and I have to say that I am loving some of this stuff, even if there is some heaviness in my heart.  But that’s for another post.  Onward.

Today–at least in my mythical Salem School world–it is Minion Day.  That is to say, Professor Wednesday Douglas has herself some minions for B Level Spells, and gee–can you guess who they are?

 

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

Wednesday checked the B Level lab one last time before walking towards the ground floor library. The day was cloudy and cool outside, and inside—well, there were more than a few students who’d be less clear and a lot hotter. Today was the first time she’d taken the students through the basics of minor levitation, and even though they were doing little more than attempting to lift tiny plastic spindles, only a quarter of the students were able to get at least one good levitation, and out of that group only one person was able to repeat the action—

She didn’t think it was a coincidence that Emma Nielson was also the only student today to ask for assistance from her two minions. Speaking of which—

Wednesday popped her head through the doorway and caught the attention of her two little helpers, both whom were reading. “Hey, minions.” She waved them towards her the moment they looked up from their books. “Help me get the lab straightened up, okay?” They sent their books back to their respective locations on the shelves before following her out of the room.

 

It’s the end of class and lunch in on high, and it’s time for Teacher and Her Pets to get the lab back in order, which they do using magic.  It’s also during this time that Annie brings up a point:  no one asked them for help.  Well, one person did, and that’s not really discussed, except to say Kerry blows it off, as does Annie.  Wednesday, however, is thinking about that, and about Annie’s question, and comes up to the follow conclusion:

 

Wednesday didn’t want to drag up any hidden enmity that might lie hidden within either Annie or Kerry concerning his Åsgårdsreian wingmate. She wanted to keep everyone focused on Annie’s questions, and not those who could become the subject of discussion. “It’s really a complected answer; there’s no easy reason. Part of it being intimidated by what they’re doing; part is being intimidated by the people who I bring in to help.” She waved her container onto one lab station and turned to Annie. “Remember what it was like when I brought in minions last year.”

Annie appeared a bit puzzled. “We didn’t have minions in spells class last year.”

“Right—not in your class.” Wednesday leaned back against a lab table. “You had already moved on to Advanced Spells by that time: you were minions.”

“Minions to be.” Kerry stood next to Annie, joining the conversation. “We just didn’t know it at the time.”

“Exactly.”

Annie closed her eyes as her head shook in short, quick twitches. “So no one wanted our help because they were intimidated by the spell and by us?”

Wednesday’s shrug was almost imperceptibly. “I would say some of the kids in this class are intimidated by you both. I’m also sure there are a few who just don’t like you and don’t want to do anything with you. And . . .” She’d considered not bringing up this last point, but ignored her concern because she was fairly certain it wasn’t a tremendous revelation for either of them. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a few in your level who are probably scared of you.”

 

This last point is a good one, because, if you think back, it’s one they’ve already touched upon–

And maybe we’ll get to that tomorrow.  After all, I do have the day off.

Shoot Down the Firing Line

Right before midnight there was a hell of a storm here in The Burg, and one bit of lightning went off that must have been right above the apartment, because the flash and bang were almost simultaneous.  Great way to see the first half of the summer out, right?  Doesn’t make for good time trying to get to sleep, however.

So the last two days I’ve skirted with the thousand word limit.  The day before last I had nine hundred ninety-eight; last night it was nine hundred eighteen.  Close, but not quiet there.  However, those thousands add up after a while, and with three more scenes left in Chapter Nine, I have a good shot of ending Act One right at eighty thousand words, especially since I crossed seventy-five thousand, four hundred words last night.

This also means that, sticking with my two weeks per ten thousand schedule, I’ll finish Act One in the upcoming week–right before I have to leave The Burg and head back to Indiana for some personal business.  I could even start Act Two while on the road.

But what about the end of Act One?  Where is Kerry?

Ginger Hair Boy got snapped at by Chestnut Girl, and neither are pleased that it happened.  But that’s the breaks when you’re training hard, and all the training, and learning, are in your hands.  Best then to take a time out . . .

 

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

“Yeah, you did.” Kerry chuckled. “Because it’s true.” He reached across his body to pat her hand. “Can we take a break?”

She tugged on his arm. “Let’s go sit in the viewing gallery.”

There were a dozen chairs in the viewing gallery, each big enough for a single person. Kerry chose one against the wall opposite the entrance. He held tight to Annie’s hand. “Sit with me.”

She eyed Kerry, then the chair. “There isn’t enough room for us both.”

“Sure there is—” He sat and patted his thighs. “Join me.”

Annie held her hands tight against her belly. “You want me to sit on your lap?”

“Sure.” He glanced up through the top of his glasses. “It’s not like you weigh a lot.”

She slid into his lap, chuckling as she wrapped an arm around his neck. “This all right?”

“You’re fine.”

“As long as you’re comfortable, my love.” Annie rested against his shoulder. “What’s bothering you?”

“I don’t know.” He slowly slipped his arm around Annie and held her close. “I just don’t get why it’s so hard—I know I’m seeing it correctly in my head.” He sighed. “How did you figure out the right visualization for blood coming out of the body?”

“Well . . .” She leaned in close and whispered. “I have some experience with blood coming out of the body.” She kissed the side of his head. “Like now.”

Kerry’s eyes rolled up for a second before turning just enough to see Annie’s face. “Oh, yeah: I forgot.” He snuggled his head against hers. “I did check this morning, Sweetie—”

“I know you did; you always do.” A soft sigh slipped out from between pressed lips. “You always make me feel good.”

“Except I got you upset.” Kerry began to smile as he felt his frustration slowly drain away. “I didn’t want to do that; I don’t like doing that.”

 

Once upon a time Kerry mentioned to Nurse Coraline during “The Talk” that he was aware of Annie’s cycle–and isn’t it a good thing he didn’t mention that to his mother?  I’d also mentioned that, knowing Kerry, he probably went and set it up on a calendar somewhere, so he’d know when Annie Dim Red Tides were upon high.  But noticed:  he didn’t blame her snapping at him on that; he says he knows he made her upset, and he’s chilling on anything else.

But there’s something else afoot here . . .

 

Annie shifted her body so she didn’t cause Kerry too much discomfort. “You didn’t, love: not really. I was—” She set back several centimeter so she could better see his face. “It was as if I could feel your frustration. And as you grew more frustrated—”

“—It affected you.” He chuckled. “I could feel it coming off you.”

Annie didn’t want to discuss what she felt from Kerry, or what he felt from her: she wanted to discuss the reason why they were here, and what she thought might be the source of Kerry’s frustration. “May I make an observation?”

He chuckled. “You can make as many as you like.”

She sat up, no longer leaning against her soul mate. “Whenever you’ve had this—problem—in the past, it’s not because you don’t know how to craft the spell: it’s because you’re over-thinking the spell.”

Kerry pushed himself back deeper into the chair, his expression changing as he eyed Annie. “Like the first time you spoke with me in Spell Class a year ago.”

“Yes—” She nodded slowly. “Just like that time.”

“Yes.” He leaned back and stared at the ceiling for several seconds as he remembered the time a couple of weeks after the start of Beginning Spells, when Annie took him aside and explained the difference between being a technical and a natural witch. How being a natural witch meant not seeing magic as a series of steps one needed to craft in order to perform a spell, but more of a feeling that magic should just happen a certain way . . .

Kerry slowly pressed the palm of his right hand into his forever. “Ohhhh . . .” He closed his eyes and exhaled. “I’ve been so stupid.”

 

You are stupid, Kerry–stuuuupiiiidddd!  Yep, with a little help he thinks he’s got it.  And what is “it”?  Pretty much what you think it is–

 

She slipped off his lap and stood. “Let us go then—” She helped Kerry to his feet. “My love.”

They reentered the test area and Kerry proceeded directly towards the table with the practice torsos. He examined the torso on the right as if he were looking for flaws and imperfections. “I think I got this.”

“Do you?” Annie stood slightly behind him and to his left. “Do you really believe you know this?”

He glanced over his shoulder. “Yes—” He turned and stared at the torso for about fifteen seconds before slowly drawing back his left arm, keeping his hand close to his side. He held it there for a few seconds, then pushed it forward, twisting his hand around palm-upward once his arm was fully extended.

The moment Kerry’s arm became fully extended, blood began running from the torso’s nose, then started to pour from its ears and eyes as the chest and arms turned red with blood oozing from the pores. The pulsing heart began slowing as the light grew lighter. Ten seconds after the Exsanguination spell hit the torso, the light faded away as the heart ceased beating.

He turned to Annie, a huge smile stretched from cheek-to-cheek. “I do.”

She returned his smile as she began bouncing on the balls of her feet. “What changed?”

“Over-thinking.” He turned back towards the torso. “Way too much.”

Annie stepped next to him and took his hand. “How so?”

“By doing what I did back at the start of spells class, Sweetie. Here I’ve been thinking about Exsanguination the same way oxygen moves from the cells through the walls and into the tissue . . . I was trying to work the spell the scientific way, and it was all wrong.” He gave her hand a squeeze before throwing his arm around Annie’s shoulders. “This time I just thought about blood pushing through everything and pouring out into and through the body—” He shot an excited glance Annie’s way. “You put enough blood into the body, and even if it doesn’t ooze out of every pore, it’s gonna come out somewhere eventually. Right?”

 

One might say there’s no science in magic, and for the most part they’re right.  And even as good as Kerry can be at times, he still slips back into old habits–which is what happened here.  He’s trying to come up with some strange ideas of how the blood permeates the arterial membranes, when what he needed to see is blood being drawn out of someone’s body.  He figured it out, and he wants to move on–

 

“Yes, it will.” Annie turned and gave him a hug. “I knew there was something like that holding you back.” She leaned back, her face beaming. “It’ll take about ten minutes for the torso to soak up the blood, so you can use the other one—”

He shook his head. “No.” He looked over Annie’s shouldn’t. “I want to try the homunculus.”

“You do?”

“Yes.”

Annie backed away slowly, her eyes fixed on Kerry while she teased him with her words. “You do the spell right one time—”

“And I know I can do it again.”

She straightened her back and shot a stern look his way. “Farm Boy, I had better see his homunculus dead.”

He did a quick half-bow. “As you wish.”

 

Sure thing, Princess Buttercup:  you get that blue cabinet open . . .

 

Annie skipped over and planted a quick kiss on his cheek before turning towards the cabinets. “Let me unlock the door—”

“Not the blue.” His eyes shifted to his right. “The red.”

A moment of uncertainty passed over Annie’s face. “You really want a Tracker?”

“Why not? It’ll give me an incentive to get the spell right.” He rolled his shoulders, getting loose. “I mean, the worse that can happen is it’ll touch me and the enchantment will knock me out, right?”

“Right as rain.” She unlocked two of the red cabinet doors and began walking back towards Kerry. “I’ll get hidden so it doesn’t track me, then open the door.” Annie glanced to her right and examined Kerry’s mood. He’s not the least bit nervous—just like when we were in Kansas City. “Are you ready?”

He sighed out his eagerness. “Yes.”

Annie vanished from sight; five seconds later one of the unlocked doors opened and the homunculus stepped out.

Kerry was well aware of how these things worked. An enchantment keep the homunculus from noticing anything until they were about two meters from their cabinet, at which point they locked onto anything breathing. They’d continue following people around until they were either put down, or they came into contact with a person—at which point an enchantment carried by the homunculus rendered them unconscious, often with a variety of special effects.

As had happened many times during A Level Self Defense class, the homunculus detected Kerry after taking a few stepped away from the cabinet. The teenage-sized humanoid, attired in a light-blue paper coverall, headed towards him in a slow walk. He wasn’t fooled by their slow, steady movement: thought he was only four meters away, if he didn’t move the homunculus would be upon him in about ten seconds.

Having a Tracker coming his way put him under pressure to act—and to make everything work right.

He took a single step backwards as he visualized the effect the spell would have. He drew on the dark energy needed to power the spell. His crafting nearly complete, all that remained was to exert his will upon his crafting, and . . .

Kerry kept his hand close to his side this time, pressing his palm in the direction of the homunculus. Blood began flowing from the ears and nose, but it didn’t gush as it had with the practice torso. Now three meters away, the homunculus staggered slightly, but the lose of blood was only enough to slow the creature in its forward advance.

He took another step backwards and quickly re-crafted. He wasn’t rattled: his mind was clear and worked through his VEW steps rapidly. He drew in a breath, held it as he prepared himself, and pointed at the homunculus as if he were ordering it to sit.

Blood squirted from the nose, ears, and eyes. Red spots began appearing across the coverall as blood flowed from the pores, and small streams of blood flowed down the legs and dripped over the ankles. The homunculus took three staggering steps and slipped to the right, crashing to the floor. It twitched twice then lay still, leaving Kerry to stand over the homunculus and stare down at it in much in the same way he’d once done to a student during A Level Sorcery class.

 

Standing over a student in Sorcery Class?  Maybe one who is writhing in pain on the floor?  Yeah, that’s the Dark Kerry we’ve seen before, and he’s finally back.  He’s not only got this, but he knows something else:

 

Annie appeared at his left, having dropped her light bending spell. She hooked her right arm around his left. “I would say that was a successful use of Exsanguination.”

Kerry humphed. “It wasn’t perfect.”

“No, it wasn’t. Took you about twenty, twenty-five seconds to drop the target.”

“Yeah.” As much as he wanted to celebrate his accomplishment, he knew what was necessary. “I want to do it again.”

“I thought you might.” She turned him until he was facing her, then kissed him on the lips. “You’re becoming like me.”

“I’ll never be as good as you.” He kissed her back. “But I do want to get it right; I don’t want a repeat of the Link Bridge.”

Annie nodded. “Neither do I.” She pulled him closer. “Like it or not you are like me.”

“And I know what you would do—”

“Do you?” She nodded and released his arm, then hung both arms around his shoulders. Where the other kisses were quick and playful, this time she kissed him slowly and with enormous passion. My dark witch has learned his lesson

She broke the kiss but kept her eyes close as she breathed in his exhilaration. “Were you thinking of something like that?”

Kerry kissed her on the nose before glancing towards the red cabinet. “That was great, but . . . you need to set up another Tracker for me.”

Annie lightly pushed away from Kerry and performed her own little bow. “As you wish.”

 

Nothing like using a metaphor for “I love you” while learning spells designed to kill people, right?  One could say they are entirely too happy about this success, and a few people would be right:  they are happy.  There could be a myriad of reasons why, but sealing off the Firing Line for these two to wreck havoc was probably done not so much to keep them from being distracted, but to keep other students from seeing that they might just be having a little too much fun.  There’s also the kissing parts, too–at least this time they’re not covered in blood.  (I would still love for someone to draw that picture of them embracing after the zombie fight.)

So here we are:

Closer to the end, for sure.

Closer to the end, for sure.

And I’m really shooting for finishing this act up next week.

But first:  minion duty.  Maybe.

Up the Air Without a Broom: the Locals

From one type of flight yesterday to another today.

I’m finally almost out of the first week, and it’s only taken my fifty-eight thousand words, give or take a few dozen.  The last couple of weeks I’ve slowed down the output, mostly because of–well, more than a few reasons.  But I’m breaking things up a bit, and today and tomorrow see me running off to get my face zapped again (tomorrow) and see about getting a new wig (this afternoon).  Who knows?  I could come back with a completely different look by tonight.

That won’t affect my kids, who are now hanging out somewhere in the south-center of the school.  It’s time for Annie to get taught by Isis about flying without a broom and a net, and she’s ready.  However, I need to set the scene, because this is an area of the school that doesn’t get much mention . . .

 

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

Of the three buildings on the Salem campus dedicated to aeronautical usage, the Aerodrome was the middle child: not the smallest, nor the largest, and always living the the shadow of its more well-known siblings.

The Hanger was the smallest of the three structures, and also the oldest: the first version of the Hanger was built in 1936, and was replaced by an improved building in 1976. The current version of the Hanger was built over the summer of 2000, after the second version was destroyed during The Scouring. Though PAVs were still constructed and tested here, it was normally used for other experiments conducted by students from the Tesla Science Center, or used for the testing of Gifts, as had been done with Annie prior Saturday.

Likewise, The Diamond replaced the original structure that once stood on the same location as the huge building there now. The first racing oval was little more than a four hundred meter track cut out of the woods in 1907, and the first set of rules were put into place five years later. The first dedicated track structure was constructed in 1936, and upgraded in 1953 and 1978. After years of oval racing outside, The Diamond went up in its current form in 1995 and was used for A Level training as well as novice and coven racing.

The Aerodrome was different in that it didn’t replace an existing structure: before the Aerodrome equipment was stored either in the Hanger or at The Diamond. It was built during the 1984/85 school year, and immediately took over as the testing, training, and storage center for the school’s PAVs.

It was twice as long as the Hanger, three and a half times as wide, and almost three times as high, making it nearly as large as the Great Hall. There was enough room inside to test a Class 5 PAV without fear, and six elevators were used to access the massive lower level hanger. Enchantment were in place to allow race teams to practice without fear of serious injury, and B Teams even ran point races there in the last month of the coven racing season.

 

First let’s look at the area:

Left to right:  Hanger, Aerodrome, The Diamond.

Lower left to upper right: Hanger, Aerodrome, The Diamond.

The Hanger is where Annie did her first test, and the Diamond all the way down by there is where Lisa crashed Kerry into wall.  It’s possible to get from one structure to the other through The Chunnel, which runs from left to right just above where the Hanger and Aerodrome sit.  And directly above the Aerodrome is the Flight School and Selena’s Meadow to its left, while the lines you see as well as a few labels–like “Double Back” and just part of “Double Dip”–are the Green Line and Blue Line race courses.  Yes, I’ve got it all:  history, and layouts.

And I even calculated the sizes:

But since I took the numbers from Blender, I had help.

But since I took the numbers from Blender, I had help.

I also start talking about PAV Class sizes, and I know those well:  the first three will be seen in the current story, and the last two, Class 4 and Class 5, will get their time in the light later.  Needless to say, they’re bigger and faster, and have a lot more performance options and functions.

The people are now in place.  The Aerodrome is closed off:  Isis and the kids have the place to themselves, which is sort of like clearing out the Great Hall so three people can work on something they want no one else to see.  That last usually doesn’t happen save late at night–and Annie remembers a moment like that–but here, in this great big open space, it’s possible.

Particularly when you’re working with the Director of Security . . .

 

Isis smiled as they approached. “All ready for flying, I see.”

“As you requested.” Annie and Kerry had traveled to the Flight School to change into their flying gear before coming to the Aerodrome. Vicky had stopped by during last night’s dinner that they should both dress for flying, and Annie could keep her gear in her room after her first class. Unless her first day in Basic Flight, Annie didn’t feel strange wearing flying leathers, boots, and a helmet—which, at the moment, she carried along with her gloves and goggles.

Isis’ flight gear was a bit different from theirs. Her leather pants were more form fitting, and her black leather flight jacket was stylish enough to wear out on a date. She wasn’t wearing a helmet, gloves, or goggles, but Annie figured that was only because there wasn’t a need for them. The only thing Isis’ outfit had in common theirs were the boots, which were black and broken in well. To Annie’s trained eye, it appeared they’d likely been worn on occasions that had nothing to do with flying.

 

Leave it to Isis to have stylish flying gear, though it can be said that Annie has to use her leathers from the year before.  How did she know she was gonna need to look pretty when she was flying without a broom?

There we go:  all set and ready to go.  Now all we need is some flying.

The Shadow Teaching

It’s way early right now, like five AM early, because I didn’t sleep at all.  Well, a little here and there, but not as well as I would have liked.  And I can’t make coffee this morning, so somewhere along all my driving today–yep, I’m out on the road once more–I gotta find some java.  And then a couple of rest stops along the way.

A question came up last night:  what’s you’re current word count.  Well, now that I have two of three scenes finished for Chapter Twenty-Five, it’s pretty easy to say, “I’m right here now.”  That’s means a couple of screen graphics are in order.  First, where am I with the Act?

Yep, right there.

Yep, right there.

And there where am I with the novel?

I'm at a point between foolishness and total insanity.

I’m at a point between foolishness and total insanity.

I’d mentioned, just off hand, that I’d hit somewhere around 280.000 words, and I was right there in the ballpark.  This makes me believe that Act Two will likely end up somewhere between 150,000 and 160,000 words, or just slightly longer than Act One.  And if Act Three is about the same . . .

Yeah.  Madness.

With that in mind, what’s the madness going on in my kid’s private lab?  Annie’s impressing Kerry with the thing she made for him–sort of . . .

 

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

Kerry wasn’t quite sure what to make of the . . . ribbon floating before him. “It’s pretty—” He gave Annie a puzzled look. “What do you call this?

“It’s called a shadow ribbon—at least that’s what the spell is called.” She waved her hand to her left and the ribbon moved to Kerry’s right, then up and over his head, to finally float back down on his left and settle back where it had started. “You can make them as big or small as you’d like, and once I know how to work this spell better, I can control more than one at the same time.” She nodded at the animated shadow. “Go ahead, touch it.”

He ran his fingers over the wavering ribbon. I shouldn’t be able to touch this, but I can. “It feels like silk.”

“Light and flexible, yet strong—just like it.” She came closer and placed her hand next to Kerry’s. “I’ve actually see people use these to suspend heavy objects from walls and ceilings.” She removed her hand and performed a quick circular motions with her outstretched index fingers. A moment later the ribbon partially wrapped itself around Kerry’s right wrist. Annie slowly waved her right hand off to one side, and the ribbon lifted Kerry’s arm away from his body. “I can use it to take you were I want you to go.” She chuckled, her eyes shinning brightly, happy that she could show off her abilities to her soul mate.

Kerry chucked as well. “It’s not like you need magic to have me go somewhere with you.”

“That’s true for now . . .” Annie waved both hand and the shadow disappeared into nothingness.

 

For a young lady who’s just starting out at a school for advanced students who can bend reality, she’s able to crank out the crafting.  And someone is noticing . . .

 

“Most sorcery is fairly blunt force in its application: shadow magic requires a deft touch to craft correctly. Lovecraft said it was like the different between punching holes in walls to working with rice paper.”

“I saw how you were working with it.”

“Yes.” Annie nodded. “Light touches everywhere.”

“That was pretty obvious.” Kerry smiled broadly. “I don’t know why Lovecraft was so surprised, though: she should know by now you’re really good when it comes to this stuff.”

“Well . . .” She blushed thinking about how Professor Lovecraft had asked her a couple of times if she had actually done Shadow Ribbons before, since she was able to craft a ribbon on her third time, and it had taken her weeks to manipulate her first one.

“After all—” Kerry stepped next to her, taking Annie’s hand. “You are my Dark Witch.”

“Stop.” She brushed her fingers down his chest in mock anger.

“And now you’re the Dark Shadow Witch.” He laughed, and Annie joined him a moment later. “I don’t understand why this is sorcery, though. I would imagine Wednesday would teach this to us.”

“It’s because it can be used against people.” Annie took Kerry’s left wrist in both hands. “As light and silky as that shadow felt, I could have tightened it until . . .” She pretended to pop his hand off his arm.  “It would have been easy to amputate your hand.”

“Glad you didn’t.”

“I’d never do that to you . . .”

She didn’t say about doing it to anyone else. “I know.”

 

Yeah, she never said anything about lopping off someone else’s hand.  You know, like nosy wingmates who are asking personal questions of your soul mate . . .

But that’s for the future.  Annie has something else in mind at this very moment–

 

Annie studied Kerry closely for almost twenty seconds. He said nothing, but she expected that: he’d grown used to watching her observe him. She though about how he’d looked when she’s created the ribbon, and how acted when she maneuvered it around his body and wrapped it around his wrist. It won’t hurt to ask . . . “Would you like to learn how to do this spell?”

Kerry’s eyes beamed. “You’d ask Lovecraft if she’d teach me?”

“No.” Annie’s eyes beamed back. “I’d teach you.”

“Wait . . .” He brows furrowed. “I thought you have a sorceress’ bargain with her so you could access the library in the Witch House?”

“I do.” Creating a bargain had been a requirement before allowing Annie into The Black Vault. “The bargain says that anything I learn in The Vault I can’t pass on to others—” She tapped Kerry on the chest. “I think that was designed to keep me from showing you everything I learned.”

He’d figure that as well after she explained the deal she’d worked out with Professor Lovecraft after she’d shocked Kerry into the hospital for the night. “What’s different now?”

“I didn’t learn this spell in The Vault.” Annie turned her eyes up towards the ceiling for a few seconds. “This isn’t the first spell I’ve learned, either—And none of them I’ve learned in The Value.” A slight, playful grin played across her face. “Lovecraft won’t let me practice any spells in The Value. She says it’s too dangerous.”

 

Now we reach the part of the program where Annie, after almost three months in the joint, decides it’s time to step up the game and start passing along what she knows to her significant other.  Though it would seem as if the wonderful Mistress of All Things Dark left a big opening for Little Miss Dark Witch to do just that.  And she’s realizing it, but . . .

 

It could be she wants to see if I’m going to take what I’ve learned and pass it along to him. She gazed deeply into his eyes. But this is something he should know—something I want him to know . . .

She made up her mind in an instant. “I want to teach this to you.”

Kerry chuckled and turned his gaze towards Annie’s feet. “I don’t know; I think—”

“Kerry.” He snapped his heard up and met Annie’s burning gaze. “You’re a good sorceress. Lovecraft said so, and I say so.” She ran her right hand down his arm. “It’s time you became my Dark Witch.”

 

No shits are given–she wants her own Dark Witch.

And we all know by now:  what Annie wants, Annie gets.