Fearing an Unknown Known

Believe it or not I’m fairly busy this morning.  Yeah, I know, it sounds like I’m doing nothing but running around today and the reality is, I am.  I’m gonna go do taxes and about ninety minutes then after that I have to drop off some papers to change accounts due to my name change, and as soon as I’m done with this post I have to call my insurance agent and get things changed on my name as well.  Yes, I know, I could’ve done this last year. I didn’t. Sue me.

So what you’re going to get is a quick and dirty excerpt from the scene we’ve been in for a while, but haven’t heard from for a few days due to me being on the road.  Doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing, but it does mean I haven’t been posting much. At least not much of the novel.  But now you get to see that.

So we pick up right after Jordana has been made a little smaller by the Mistress of Transformation.  And she has something else she wants to show now…

 

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

 

“I just—” Jordana shut her mouth quickly, for she knew the wrong word could see her being punished in ways she wouldn’t find pleasant. “I was thinking that you would only make me a few centimeters shorter than Kerry, that’s all.”

“That’s exactly what you are: a few centimeters shorter than Kerry.” The wicked grin that had appeared earlier crossed Jessica’s face once more. “Eight centimeters shorter, if we were correct in our first assessment. Isn’t that right, Kerry?”

He gave a quick nod. “Yeah, we kinda figured out that she was a couple centimeters taller than me.”

“Which means that now we’ve seen how the spell works at the advanced levels, I want to show the class something else.” Jessica waived her right hand and conjured a poncho-like cloak. She held it towards Kerry. “Would you put this on, please?”

As Kerry took the cloak he began feeling a nervousness that he suspected Jordana was feeling moments earlier. He slipped it on over his head and let it fall to his sides, with the him coming to a point just below his knees. He made a few adjustments and then stood staring at Jessica. “Is this okay?”

She nodded. “That’s perfect.” She turned to the other three students. “I want to show you an unseen aspect of the Compress spell.” She half turned Kerry and pointed at him. “I want you to Mimic Jordana.”

Kerry exchange looks with his fellow classmate, but before he could say anything she turned to Jessica. “Professor, you know I don’t—”

“I don’t give a shit what you don’t like.” Jessica took a step forward as she crossed her arms and glared at the girl. “We spoke about this last year and we will not discuss it again. So unless you want to end up half a meter tall for the next twenty-four hours, you won’t complain when Kerry Mimics you, nor will you afterwords.” She leaned forward slightly, her dark eyes emotionless. “Are we clear?”

Jordana glanced downward as she swallowed once. “Yes, Professor.”

Jessica nodded slightly, content that she had gotten her point across. She glanced at Kerry. “Go ahead: do it.”

 

Jessica is apparently still pissed at Jordana for not wanting to be mimic the year before, and she’s not playing that game this year.  So this is sort of her revenge and like it or not, Jordana is going to get a twin sister.

Although, it seems as if the erstwhile twin may be having second thoughts of his own–

 

There was a moment where Kerry felt an incredible amount of fear gripped him internally, because he knew what he was about to do wasn’t simply a matter of using his Mimic Gift and becoming a duplicate of Jordana. Near the end of the last school year Annie and he were shown the video of the time he had Mimicked Sudarat and Kaisa, so he was aware that in the process of Mimicking a girl there was a moment where he was his female self—Girl Kerry, as Annie called her.

He wasn’t worried that the others would see this: it happened so quickly that no one saw it happened this last March. But he was immediately gripped with an irrational fear that when it came time to drop the Mimic and return to himself—

What if he stayed Girl Kerry?

He closed his eyes enforce the notion from his mind. He had been reassured, time and again, that he could only transition into his female self after the first involuntary transition occurred, so any fear he had now about his Mimicking going wrong was unfounded.

He opened his eyes and stared straight ahead as he imagine himself to be Jordana. He threw his willpower into the transformation—

Less than a second later he was eye to eye with the real Jordana.

 

Kerry’s got that clock ticking, ticking, ticking, and he’s aware that the moment he mimics Jordana there will be a moment when he’s going to turn into that cute little redhead that he’s only seen in his dreams–oh, and in a video as well.  It’s legitimate for Kerry to fear that the moment he changes back he may not change back to himself–well, at least not the self he was when he walked in the room that night.  Even though he’s been told many times that what he’s worrying about is impossible, that doesn’t prevent the Ginger Hair Boy from thinking that they impossible could happen.  After all, for a while in his life he grew up believing magic wasn’t possible and he certainly proved that shit wrong.

So, we finally get to see The Two Jordana’s together and both appear to be about the same size.  Maybe if I’m not to rush for time tomorrow you get to find out why…

Mother’s Little Annoyance: All Those Changes

Yesterday was a bit of a strange day.  I’ve been hyper-focused on work of late, so I’ve been zooming through my assignments like no one’s business–so much so that I’m now sitting around for hours waiting on specifications.  This gives me a chance to look up things and think.  One of the things I looked up was a possible adventure in Manila, The Philippines, for Annie and Kerry–because there is a Foundation facility there–and at the same time I discovered that a gigantic meth superlab was found in the foothills of Mt. Arayat, leading me to believe that Walter White didn’t die, he just moved to Asia.

Not a part of The Foundation, believe me.

Not a part of The Foundation, believe me.  They keep their superlabs where kids can use them.

But this thinking has also brought me to consider a few changes in my life and I think I’ll discuss them in a video tomorrow.  Nothing bad, mind you, but they are things I believe I need to do because–well, reasons as always.

But back to what’s going on in my fictional world–and that’s a discussion of stuff and things…  Mama wants to know what you can do with transformation magic, Kerry, so maybe you should tell her?

 

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

 

He wondered how much he should tell his mother, then figured if she wanted to know what he could do, he should tell her everything. “I can change the color of my hair and change my complexion; I’ve gotten pretty dark—” He thought it best he didn’t tell his mother about his Mimic Gift. “And I can do it pretty fast, too.”

“You can change your hair?”

“Yeah. I’ve been black, brown, blond.” Kerry’s chuckle was so soft as to be almost unheard. “I can do that to others, too. I’ve practiced on a couple of instructors and I changed Annie’s hair color for our last Samhain dance.”

Louise’s head tilted slightly to the right. “Samhain?”

“You’d call it Halloween: we go by all the old names.” He began shifting his weight from foot to foot out of habit. “We have a costume dance. Some of the kids and instructors get pretty inventive.”

“I see.” Now that Louise had raised this particular question she had to know— “What color did you make her hair?”

“Aqua.” He rushed through his mother’s sudden eyebrow raise. “We went as characters from an anime. I made my hair blond.”

She was certain she wouldn’t understand anything about any characters Kerry and his little friend were imitating so Louise didn’t ask more there. “You had blond hair?”

“Sure. I could give you blond hair, too, if you ever wanted to see.”

“No, thank you.” Louise was concerned for only a second that she may have come off too strong. “I like my hair as it is. What else can you change besides your hair and skin color?”

 

“Kerry and his little friend.”  Jeez, Louise, could you be a little more condescending even if it is in your own thoughts?  The boy is thirteen:  he doesn’t have little friends.  And the one he does have could kill you in about ten seconds flat.  For that matter, so could Kerry, but let’s not go there yet–

This is really the first time that Kerry has mentioned to either of his parents that Annie and he have done anything together other than have a sex talk, that is.  And if a girl allows you to change the color of her hair–yeah, you can bet Louise filed that one away rather quickly.  “Little friend” my ass:  a whole bunch of letters over two summers, an angry retort about a girl’s name, and a sex talk at school = My Son’s Got Somethin’ Goin’ On.  But she isn’t saying anything about that yet.  Oh no, not yet.  She has other things she wants to know–like what else can you change?  And don’t you know Kerry really wants to talk…

 

Kerry gave a slight shrug. “Eye color, though that’s always tricky. I’m also getting good at…” He shook his head one time. “I’m to where I can change different—parts. This year I’m gonna work on things like size and weight alterations and anthropomorphic alterations—”

His mother’s puzzled look returned. “What’s that?”

Go on: tell her. “It’s taking on the aspects of other non-human creatures. You know: sonar like a bat, or wings, or…” He pushed past his fear of looking silly. “Annie and I figured it would also be possible to create gills and a dolphin tail. Like a mermaid—you know?”

If Louise was shocked by this she didn’t let it show. “A mermaid? Seriously?”

“I…” He nodded. “I’m sure I’ll have it figured out by my D Levels.”

“Well…” Louise broke into a slight smile. “You really mean you’d be a merman, don’t you?”

“Oh, yeah: that’s what I meant.” Kerry had decided a few seconds before there was no way he was going to explain his other Gift right now. “It’s just that everyone thinks of mermaids—”

“It’s popular, I know.” She slowly pressed her right fist against her mouth, something she did when she was thinking. “You said you take advanced classes—”

“All of them.”

“In what?”

 

Size and weight–or really mass, but laypeople don’t really understand that as much as weight–alterations are on the menu for the C Levels, and while they won’t allow you to become the Incredible Shrinking Man or the 50 Foot Woman, they go a long ways towards making people think you’re someone you’re not.

And animal stuff like wings?  Yeah, that can happen and has.  In fact, people who are  really good with transformation magic can make themselves over into just about anything, and Jessica once used an animal form–a lioness–to maul another witch to death.  Sure, she could have stopped their heart or pulled organs out of their body:  nope, Jessica wanted to rip them to shreds and did.  This is just another reason why you don’t mess with her.

But mermaids?  Yeah, Annie and Kerry talked about that.  You gotta figure it makes swimming underwater easier and once you get past the whole “I’ve got gills and I’m breathing water” thing, one could get used to being that way for a while.  And since one can now get a job as a mermaid–really, look it up–it’s a good cover for something they could do while working undercover for the Guardians.

"It's a lot of fun.  You're in the water the whole time and you get a clam-shell bra!"

“It’s also a lot of fun. You’re in the water the whole time and you get a clam-shell bra!”

Now Mom and Kerry are on to the other advanced classes.  Hum…  I think things are about to get even more interesting–

The Calm Before the Light: History and the Oncoming Girl

Needless to say I’m still suffering from the effects of this cold, but it’s not quite as bad as it was a few days back.  I’ve also been busy writing away:  four hundred words last night, and just over a thousand this morning, all because there’s somewhere I need to be a ten AM, so I’m under the gun just a bit to get this post out.  Sure, it’s just before eight right now, but I gotta get ready and put on makeup and–you know:  girl things need a-doing.

Maybe like a certain character in this story is going to discover one day.  But I get ahead of myself.

The part I started last night detailed a little of this history of this Bigender Gift, and what there is known about it and how it works.  It seems that, as Jessica hinted, this all deals with auras, in particular, a person’s aura that is changing not slightly, but considerably.  It’s at this point that what little everyone knows about this gift starts coming out–

 

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

Just as they’d planed that afternoon, Deanna handed this part of the discussion. “It’s true that everyone has one aura, but in the instance of those few who’ve developed the Bigender Gift, they have another aura—I suppose you could say it’s a sub-aura, something small and underdeveloped, but created at the time the person is born the same as the person’s regular aura.

“This secondary aura has continued to grow, but there’s an issue here: it needs to integrate itself with the primary aura and become part of the whole—and in order to do that, it seems the person’s mind undergoes some sort of realignment to allowed for this integration.”

Little of this made sense to Kerry, but it sounded as if everyone sitting across from him seemed to finally understand what was happening. “Why is there a realignment? Why do I have to get used to the idea?”

“Because of what change this new aura brings about.” Erywin shifted around in her seat, leaving a few moments for Kerry to prepare himself. “We only have six recorded instances of this Gift seen over the last three hundred years, and in each instance the secondary aura took on the aspect of a form from the opposite end of the physical gender spectrum. So, of the six, five were born female who developed auras with male aspects. The other, like you, was born male and developed—”

“A girl aura.” Kerry appeared pensive as he considered this news. “That’s why I’m seeing this girl in my dreams, right?”

“That’s right. She your mind’s way of taking what it knows about this new aura and giving it too you in a fashion you can try and understand.” Erywin glanced down at her feet for just a second. “This afternoon we perused some of the diaries of Lucyna Gorczynski, a Polish witch was first discovered to have this Gift in 1952. She had been writing about everything that had happened, and was happening to her, since she had her first dreams during the summer of 1946. She came forward with this information only after The Foundation discovered the existence of a second person with the Gift, an English woman named Kaity Caspersen who had been living as as a man off and on since 1943 on both coasts of the United States.

“Lucyna began handing over most of what she’d written down about her experience, and one of the things she mentioned were the dreams she had leading up to the Acceptance phase—”
Kerry rolled his eyes. “What do you mean by these phases?”

“In her diary Lucyna pointed out that she felt her dreams progressed in three phases. The first is Adjuration, which Deanna already mentioned: your mind’s appeal to accept the coming change. The second is Acknowledgment, where the person in question has what she called the ‘mirror dream’—finally seeing yourself as that other person and accepting that it’s going to happen—and then stating aloud that you this other person is you.” Erywin cleared her throat. “Two others who’ve had this gift have mentioned that part as well.

“And the last phase is Acceptance, where you have a last dream together with the manifestation that’s your secondary aura, and you allow your mind and body to initiate the change.” Erywin gave a slight chuckle. “Lucyna was big on alliterations.

 

There is Lucyna Gorczynski, she of the diaries that Erywin finally wanted to see.  In that one paragraph about how she came out due to the discovery of Kaity Capersen I had developed an entire history about how Capersen was discovered and why Gorczynski came out.  I may include it in this novel, or I may wait until the next to talk about that moment in time.  Needless to say, it’s interesting.

And so six other people during the last three hundred years.  How do I know?  You know how I know:

I have the time of my lines, that's how.

I have the time of my lines, that’s how.

There you see it starting in 1691 with Remy Durivage before moving into the 1700s and 1800s with Catrina Severo, Pesha Petrakis, and Tamae Miyazawa.  Then we’re heading into the Twentieth Century with Kaity Caspersen, Lucyna Gorczynskim, before finally, with only eight months left in the century, there’s the birth of Kerry and we pass on into the Twenty-first Century.

For something like this I had to know the information, just like I needed to know where certain parts of the school were built.  This is why I sometimes get crazy with the time line, and why I used them to help plot things out.  Just wait until I finish this novel and I show you how I figured out the B Levels . . .

But there’s still more history to come.  Now it is time to learn about these phases and what they mean–

 

“You’ve passed through the Adjuration and Acknowledgment phases—”

“What if I hadn’t, you know, said what was needed to be said after this dream?”

“Lucyna indicated she went through the dream three times before admitting she knew the identify of the boy in her dream. Another person with the Gift, Pesha Petrakis, indicated she went through the dream seven times before admitting to the true nature of this other, strange boy.”

The Phoenix finally spoke after several minutes of silence. “And if I hadn’t removed that block to your E and A, you’d find yourself stuck trying to verbalize the name of that girl.” She raised an eyebrow as she shrugged. “That would kinda suck.”

“Kinda?” Kerry snorted while shaking his head. “I don’t know about you.”

The spirit smirked. “Most people haven’t for the last three hundred years.”

He ignored The Phoenix and returned to the conversation. “What happens after this next dream?”

 

This is where I came up with the titles for this chapters–

Which I happen to have right here.

Which I happen to have right here.

I’d actually figured out these names before I started writing the first novel, so the Three A’s have been with me since about late 2012, early 2013.  And for obvious reasons I’ve kept these chapters under wrap for a long time, which always sort of sucks when you know you have to do something big, but at the same time you need to sit on it for a while.  Just like with the Big Time, which I’d started developing in 2011, and didn’t write about the very end of July, 2014.

Yeah, that’s how these things go.

Now that we know what happen, what’s going to happen next?  Well, I have the answer–

 

Coraline perked up. “I’ll take this—” She faced Kerry with a smile. “First, allow me to explain something that has us all a little excited. With the other six individuals who had this Gift, no one knew what had happened to them until after the fact. Since we know so little about how this gift works, you’re going to find yourself monitored a bit.” She held up her hand as Kerry appeared about to protest. “The Headmistress and I have already discussed this matter, and given your status as a minor we can keep monitoring as unobtrusive as possible. We’re not going to allow you to become a sideshow attraction, Kerry—I won’t allow that to happen. I’m going to see to it you’re protected, because no one has ever seen or monitored what you’re going through right now, nor have they had the opportunity to measure the upcoming events.

“What is coming, then? From what we understand you’ll have a last dream where full aura integration takes place. Then you wait for the next event, which is an involuntary transition—”

“Wait: what?” Kerry didn’t much care for the word involuntary.

“An involuntary transition. At some point in the next year you’ll go to bed one night as the person you are now, and wake up—” Coraline raised her right hand and shrugged playfully. “—as the other you. We don’t know about the first two people to which this happened, but the last four said they transitioned as early as sixty-three days after the last dream, and as late as two hundred and eighty-six days after their last dream. This is why we figure it happens within the period of a year.” She shrugged once more. “As stated, these so much about this Gift we don’t know, and you’re going to help us compile a lot of data on the subject.

“Your transitional form will be that of a biological girl. In a way it’ll be like Mimicking, but in many ways it won’t. With Mimicking, you copy the exterior of the other person’s physical aspect, but everything inside is still you, so even when you Mimicked those girls in Jessica’s class the other night, nothing inside you changed.

“This new form, however: it’s you outside and in. We already know what your exterior looks like—we’ve seen her.”

Annie’s eyes widened. “How?”

“On video recorded during Kerry’s gender Mimicking from last week.” Jessica glanced at the woman next to her. “Erywin spotted it when we were in the process of reviewing, and we discovered Kerry was filtering through this secondary aura before Mimicking the aura of his female subject. He didn’t even realize he was doing it—”

Erywin cut in. “And that process may have actually sped up getting into this previous dream.”

Not every day you go to bed as one person and wake up as another, but this is something Kerry’s gonna have to start living with, at least for the next year.  And before you ask:  yes, there are measures being put in place to deal with this should it happen while he’s back home in Cardiff.  That actually is dealt with in the next chapter.

But first, there’s a touchy little matter that Coraline needs to break to the Ginger Hair Boy . . .

 

Coraline nodded. “That’s entirely possible. Anyway, we’ve seen what she looks like—what you’ll look like. But what you need to understand, Kerry is that the changes won’t simply be external: they’ll be internal as well. When you are in that form you will be biologically female, and that means . . .”

Jessica leaned closer to Erywin and muttered softly. “Here it comes.”

She shot the transformation instructor a warning look. “Just wait—”

Coraline moved ahead hoping for the best. “Inside you’ll be just like us. Your body will produce estrogen instead of testosterone, so when you are in your female form for any amount of time you’ll notice it developing as would the body of any girl your age. Most importantly, however, is that you’ll have a working female reproductive system. This means you’ll have all the same equipment as all of us—a vagina, a uterus, and ovaries—and because of that, should you spend any time being a girl, you’ll develop a natural cycle; again, just like the rest of us, Annie included.” She sat back and waited for Kerry to understand the ramification of her comments.

He sat quietly for nearly ten seconds, blinking several times as he analyzed this new information. It was then that his eyes grew wider as he finally comprehended Coraline’s statement. “I’m gonna have a period?”

 

Don’t worry, Kerry:  Shark Week isn’t that bad.  Is it?  He may or may not ever know–

Because the rest of those ramifications come tomorrow.

The Calm Before the Light: Let’s Talk About Change

Let’s get the Report From the Sickness Ward out of the way first thing:  I felt like I was dying last night.  Really, work was a blur, and while I managed to stay awake all day and not fall asleep at my computer, the walk home hurt.  I couldn’t relax, I could sit right, I couldn’t lay down.  I was stuff and coughing up a lot of fluids.  Not a good time at all.

If I were younger and a ginger and had a real bed, this might almost be me.

If I were younger and a ginger and had a real bed, this might almost be me.

However, I did have a plan.  Everyone kept asking, “Are you going to see a doctor?” and the answer is always, no, they won’t do anything for you beyond telling you to rest and keep pounding down warm fluids.  So I stopped off to get some warm fluids:  specifically, a bottle of Rémy Martin VSOP cognac, which is my drink of choice when I’m looking to burn out a cold, and has served me well twice in the past.

"$120 for a doctor visit, $40 for a bottle of Rémy. Here's to getting well!"

“$120 for a doctor visit, $40 for a bottle of Rémy. Here’s to getting well!”

While I won’t say I’m one hundred percent, my nose is drained and I don’t feel the fluids building in my upper chest like I did last night.  There’s still a bit of a cough, but nothing like I had last night, and more importantly, I slept, so this morning I feel alive than I did throughout the rest of the week.

The downside to all this is try as I might, the six hundred and fifty words I wrote last night were a hell of a struggle, and I didn’t attempt to push past that number once it was obtained.  However, I did get that party started, and here’s what became of that:

 

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

All eyes shifted towards Erywin, who had been chosen ahead of time to answer these questions. “First off, let me explain why I’m here. Because of some—concerns about the evasiveness of your answers regarding the last few dreams, I was asked to investigate whether or not there was a possibility you might be transgender, and that you were avoiding discussing the matter.”

He cleared his throat. “I thought that might be the reason you’re here.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you—”

“It’s okay.” Kerry waved his hand as if pushing the idea away. “I understand. Did you find anything? I mean—that’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”

“It is, indeed.” She leaned against the arm of her chair, making herself more comfortable. “I’ve examined what you’ve already told Coraline and Deanna, and I’ve seen the video of you performing your csigender transformation—and that video is what put on the track to the truth about what’s happening to you.

“First off, something you’re probably eager to hear: you’re not transgender. Based upon what I’ve seen of the physical evident, and what we’ve learned since this afternoon—and are learning now—my report is going to indicate there’s no need to proceed with discussions along those lines.

“However . . . that doesn’t mean there isn’t a gender-related issue to discuss.”

It was impossible for Kerry not to appear confused. “If I’m not trans, then what?”

Erywin meshed her fingers and pressed her thumbs together as she often did when she was about to make an important point. “You have a Gift.”

 

Of all the questions that’s hit me in the last couple of week, the biggest one has been, “What’s going on with Kerry?”  And since I’m like George R. R. Martin and I have to sit back and watch others pull out their hair while their favorite characters put through hell–and that’s the only thing I share with that gentleman–I couldn’t say a word about what I’ve known for like–three years?  Probably.  Maybe longer, because the first time I really starting thinking about this was late summer, 2011, and that’s closer to four and a half years.  Yeah, I’ve been sitting on this that long.

So he has a gift, and it’s one that keeps on coming apparently.  And here it is in part:

 

A few seconds passed before he understood the meaning of Erywin’s last word. “A Gift? I already have a Gift.”

“It’s not unheard of for someone to have two Gifts, though it doesn’t happen that often. But since Deanna was able to put the last piece in place—”

Annie spoke this time. “You mean this mirror dream?”

“Yes, that. Evidence we received early this afternoon indicates you have one of the rarest Gifts ever cataloged.” She paused to allow Kerry to ready himself for what was about to come. “You have the Bigender Gift.”

His eyebrows slowly rose from a combination of surprise and confusion. “What’s that?”

Erywin glance towards Jessica, who picked up the conversation. “You understand how Mimicking works?”

He nodded. “Yes. I interface my aura with that of another person and then use that information to change my physical form to match theirs.”

Coraline chuckled. “He sounds like you, Jess.”

Her smile was uncharacteristically pleasant. “He’s a great student with a great instructor.” She turned back to Kerry. “As you’re likely aware, your aura is not only a reflection of both your mental and emotional states, but it’s the astral aspect of your aspect in the Physical Realm. When you both begin your studies of Astral Magic you’ll discover that someone well versed in both transformation and astral magic can adjust a person’s astral aspect and have that change reflected in their physical aspect. In short, you change a person’s aural form, you may be able to change their physical form.

“The Bigender Gift does that while also acting a bit like being a Mimic as well. It’s really nothing more than altering your physical aspect—your body—based upon the selection of a astral aspect. As you change that form, your physical form changes as well—”

 

Did you get all that?  This is one of the reasons that the whole Mimicking Gift was explained a couple of times during this novel, because it was sort of a setup for what was coming.  It’s also nice to know that some asshole witch who’s powerful enough to do both astral and transformation magic can alter your aura and your body, and leave the proper authorities–i.e. The Foundation, probably The Guardians–unable to tell if you really were changed or not.  Which should tell you a little about transforming people, in that if you body changes your aura probably doesn’t.

Also Jessica seem quite pleased that Kerry can ramble off that mantra about how Mimicking works and sound like a pro.  Jessica gets like this sometimes, and it’s one of the reasons some people feel she’s a bit stuck-up and tends to feel superior over others.  The fact that she can turn you into a potted plant is probably another reason everyone acts strangely around her, but I’m only guessing here.

One thing, however, and Annie figures it out right away ’cause she’s that kind of girl–

 

“Wait.” Annie was sitting quietly up until now, but something Jessica said didn’t seem correct. “Whose aura is Kerry accessing in order to change his physical form?”

The transformation instructor half turned her head in Annie’s direction. “His.”

“That’s impossible. If Kerry’s aura is a reflection of his physical aspect, how can accessing it affect his body? He only has one aura—”

The right corner of Jessica’s mouth curled upward into a wicked smirk. “At the moment.”

“What do you mean?”

 

Yeah, Jessica, what do you mean?  What’s the “at the moment” stuff, huh?  Well, if I’m feeling better tonight, you’ll find out tomorrow.

And so far, I feel good.  I knew that I should now, too.

This Matter of Mimicking

This morning has been good, although it would be much better if this cold would be gone with the wind and leave me along, because I damn sure need a good night’s sleep, and I’m tired of heading off to bed and coughing up a lung for twenty minutes as I try to relax.  It’s a total pain in the ass, let me tell you.

But that’s neither here or there.  At the moment there is writing as done at the coffee shop down the road from my apartment . . .

Not that far from the capitol, a place I pass twice a day when I'm working.

Not that far from the capital, a place I pass twice a day when I’m working.

Enjoying myself–

I was told my smile looks real.

I was told my smile looks real.

But pink smiles ain’t gonna cut it if I don’t have something to keep you interested, right?  We left off with Jessica figuring out that Erywin is doing a write up on Kerry, and while one might assume that it’s because Kerry’s doing a little gender changing in private, it’s really a far simpler matter–

 

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

“Why do you say that?” Though she’d told Coraline and Deanna that she suspected Jessica would figure out the student in question, she kept her face straight, not giving away anything.

Thought the Formulas instructor was good at hiding her thoughts, she was nothing compared to an expert at transformation magic when it came to keeping their feelings invisible. “All of the students in that class have already attempted those spells—with the exception of two, and one of them informed me that she’ll feel more comfortable being taught this lesson by ‘someone else’.” Jessica finally showed a faint smile. “Really, Kerry’s the only student you’re investigating. It might be someone else, but I’d guess not.”

Erywin considered saying nothing, then reconsidered for several reasons. As a coven leader Jessica was responsible for a fifth of the students, and in her weekly dealings with her witches she found it necessary to keep secrets. Perhaps they weren’t always devastating secrets, but students felt Jessica would keep them once they were told.

There was also a persistent rumor Erywin had heard for years, that during her years as a runway model Jessica had supplied information to the Protectors, particularly during her travels through Japan and Korea. Every time Jessica was ask about this rumor, the reply was the same: either no, or that she’d already answered the question and her answer remained the same. Even Helena, with her friends in the Guardians, could find out if this rumor were true or false, though Helena didn’t find this all that unusual, as the Protectors and Guardians were notorious about keeping their own contacts and spies to themselves.

It was entirely possible that Jessica was telling the truth about not spying for the Protectors, and every no uttered without elaboration was the truth. It was also possible that she had done something for them, and continued to hold onto the idea that whatever the job it remained between her and her handlers. Either way, Jessica knew how to keep things to herself—and, as Erywin saw it, if the Mistress of Transformation were the one who’d first noticed these things with Kerry, or any other student, she’d have come to her with her suspicions and said nothing to anyone else.
Erywin still needed to confirm that she had nothing to fear. “I trust you won’t say anything?”

“You know I won’t.” Jessica set her unwavering gaze upon the fellow coven leader. “We both know how to keep secrets—though I think you’re are far deeper than mine.”

Erywin wasn’t about to get into a discussion of which of her secrets were deeper than Jessica’s. She suspected that the transformation instructor was referring to last school year’s Kansas City operation undertaken for The Guardians. “Now’s not the time to get into that.”

Jessica gave the comment a single, quick nod. “Agreed. Getting back to the original question—anything in particular you’d like me to watch?”

Jessica does the process of elimination, and if there hasn’t been an issue with her older, already known students, then the subject of Erywin’s scrutiny must be one of the two new students–one of whom has indicated they want someone other than Jessica to teach them how to do gender changes.  One might wonder why Annie is saying she only wants Kerry teaching her this spell, but we won’t try to figure that one out, not now.

Now we get into the questions, and for the first time we learn about Kerry’s gift:

 

“Have you noticed anything?” Erywin figured the day before that if Jessica did figure out the name of the student, she may as well ask her about any in-class issues.

“Nothing at all. Kerry’s been the model student, just like in every class.”

“How’s his Mimicking coming along?”

“As expected. I have to teach him the basics of personal transformation first, then show him how to apply that to Mimicking.”

Erywin didn’t know a lot about transformation magic—it wasn’t one of her stronger subjects as a student—so Jessica’s last statement came off as a bit confusing. “I don’t get it. I thought being a Mimic meant he could just duplicate another person.”

“In time, yes.” Given that most witches didn’t actually understand the finer points of transformation magic, Jessica enjoyed educating people. “A Mimic interfaces their aura with the aura of the person they want to copy, and once those changes are applied to their aura, they can pull them down, so to speak, and apply them to their physical form.” She shrugged. “That’s it in simplified form.”

If that was the simplified explanation, Erywin knew it was actually far more complicated. “Why go through the aura?”

“Because our auras are a astral representation of our physical forms. A Mimic can reverse that, and make their physical form mirror their astral one.”

“So why teach Kerry everything else about transformation magic?”

“Because he still has to know the how of changing himself and others. It’s all about taking the template in your aura and applying it correct.” A grin slowly formed. “A great Mimic will eventually be able to take parts of another person and apply them wherever they feel on themselves once they have total command of the gift.”

For the first time since she’d hear that Kerry was a Mimic did she get what was involved with his gift. “I understand now. Thank you.”

Jessica gave an approving nod. “You’re welcome.”

 

Magic ain’t that easy, even when it looks easy.  There’s a lot more to mimicking that just “copying” another person or their parts, though we’ve seen that Kerry could do hair with easy at least a year ago, and he could even do the hair change to others–just ask Annie and Erywin.  Still, it sounds as if one must know how to transform correctly before one can put all the parts together the right way.

This leave Erywin to ask one last thing . . .

 

“I don’t want to keep you from lunch.” Erywin stood but didn’t immediately head for the door. “Would you be interested in help with this where necessary?”

Jessica leaned forward against her desk. “Helping you with due diligence?”

“Sure. I mean, our last trans student was also pretty good with transformation magic, and you were the one who brought him to my attention—” Erywin shifted her weight to her right leg. “I’m not saying there’s a correlation, but something could pop up in class next month, and you’ll be right there.”

“Of course.” Jessica stood and came around her desk. “I’ll be happy to help.”

“Good. I’ll want access to the videos of the gender change class before they go out on the public server.”

“You’ll have that.”

Erywin started to turn for the door and caught herself to ask one last set of questions. “Has Kerry done a full mimic of anyone?”

Jessica’s response was a tiny head shake. “No, not yet. The week before we do the gender flips I’m going to have him mimic one of the boys—”

“Then do one of the girls the following class?”

“I’ll have him try change on his own before he does a mimic, but . . . yes. One of the girls the follow week.”

“Thank you. I’ll keep in touch. And enjoy your lunch.” Erywin left the office and exited Ceridwen Coven tower. Rather than use her teleporter to head for her own office in Mórrígan Coven tower, she chose to walk the inside of the Pentagram Walls back. It would give her time to think, to plan out how she was going to analyze the information, how she wanted to make certain of everything before she took the step of speaking with Kerry alone—

His life has already changed a couple of times in the last year and a half, and all for the better. Erywin stepped out of the wall and under the enormous arch of Founder’s Gate. I want to be absolutely certain before I speak with him that we’re looking at another change that’s good for him.

 

At the end we learn that Jessica help with the last trans student at the school, she’ll make certain Erywin has access to all her video before the school sees it, and that she wants to be damn sure she has all her T’s crossed and I’s dotted before she decides to call Kerry in for another “talk”–especially because she’ll probably want to speak with Kerry alone, and won’t that set well with the Chestnut Girl.  You betcha!

The most important thing here, however, is that Chapter Twenty-Three is finished.  Yep, it was a short one–

Another one bites the dust, so to speak.

Another one bites the dust, so to speak.

The next two chapters are almost all flying, divided between Annie and Kerry.  Annie is up first, however, and she’s about to do something that no other B Level has even done . . .

It’s gonna be great.

The Wise and the Called

It’s not often that I take a week to write a scene, but that’s what happened here.  After getting back from having my nails done–non-magically, unfortunately–I picked up some groceries, returned home and ate dinner, and began the slow task of finishing up the scene.  By the time ten-thirty rolled around, I’d added another six hundred and seventy-nine words, and pushed the novel closer to the end of Act Two–

One of the things I’m debating now is moving the last part of Act Two–Part Seven–and making it the first part of Act Three.  I’m thinking this because the end of this chapter would make a great cliffhanger, and Act Two is already around 115,000 words.  (Act One finished up around 80,000 words.)  The next part is gonna be hefty, so I’m thinking . . . yeah, I’ll likely move it tonight.

It's right there, it's not that big of a deal to move.

It’s right there, it’s not that big of a deal to move.

But the question right now is, “How does Kerry react to the Color Purple?”  Maybe not how you’d expect–

 

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

Kerry’s face froze into a mask of bewilderment as he started into the space between Emma’s and Linh’s work cubicles. He didn’t reply to Emma’s questions, nor did he notice Annie slowly moving up to his left until she whispered his name. “Kerry?”

He snapped out of his stupor and answered Emma. “Yeah, I can do that.” He enacted the color change quick and presented it to Emma with a smile. “See? Doesn’t look bad.”

“No, it doesn’t.” She sat down, her eyes shifting between Kerry and Annie. “And you’re right: it looks good.” She glanced over to her covenmate Linh. “I can’t wait to learn that.”

“Like I said, it’s really just a matter of visualization.” Kerry removed the spell from his nails and they changed back to their normal color. “That’s really the hardest part, and it’s what you’ll probably go over in lab.” He slowly turned to his left, catching Annie standing just a step behind him—

“I wonder what else he visualizes with his girlfriend?”

There was no mistaking Gavino D’Addario’s Italian accent; nor did Kerry need to turn around to see the next person speaking in a loud whisper, as he recognized Lisa’s American southern accent. “They probably sit around in their private lab and compare nails when they’re not, you know—” There were a few chuckles from a couple of students in the room, and while Kerry didn’t know what Lisa did, Annie’s angry, slowly narrowing eyes told him everything.

 

Leave it to Lisa:  she could get her own TV show with that title.  And any time the instructors are giving Annie and Kerry a shot at teaching the other students something they taught themselves, you know a few of others are gonna belittle–

Although it doesn’t quite work out as well this time . . .

 

“Watch it, Lisa.” Franky Smith chuckled softly. “A certain sorceress is gonna get angry.”

“Did I mention any names?” Lisa raised her voice just a touch. “I didn’t even mention her loser half—”

“Why don’t you just suck it, Lisa?”

The classroom went silent as Kerry—who’d spun around to glare at the Åsgårdsreia girl—clenched his fists and growled out his next words. “You have a big mouth and you push buttons. And that’s all you do; you just mouth off all the time and piss people off.”

Lisa calmly stared back. “And what are you gonna do about it, Kerry”

“Today? Nothing.” He snorted as he relaxed his shoulders. “Thursday night I’m leaving on an overnight training flight, so I don’t have time to call you out—” Kerry glanced to his left as he smirked.  “Which means I don’t have time to kick the butt of the champion you send after me ‘cause you’re way too scared to fight me yourself.”

Darkness drew down over Lisa’s face as she stared at Kerry with unabashed hate. “You suck, Malibey.”

“You and your friends, Lisa—” Kerry drew in a slow breath. “You’re all cowards.”

 

And that’s about as big a throw down as you’re going to get.  “Yeah, I’d call you out, but then I’d have to kick someone’s ass because you’re too chickenshit to face me.”  And then lumping all of her little clique in with her as cowards–it’s a ballsy move.  Some might say, “Annie should have done that,” but remember:  Annie’s really the analytical one while Kerry’s the emotional one, and it’s more in his demeanor to say this than Annie.  Annie just lets it build until she decides it’s time to act, and while Kerry has also let it build, right before things get nasty he just lays out some smack and cuts everyone down.  He knows he may pay for that–he pretty much called out three people at once, and could end up in over his head–but he got it out there for all to hear.

And that includes the instructor–

 

Lisa was on her feet in an instant. “You mother—”

“That’s quite enough.” Jessica finally stepped up next to her minions as she addressed the room. “We’re here to learn, not call out each other.” She laid a hand on Kerry’s shoulder. “Are we good?”

He looked straight ahead as he nodded. “Yes.” He looked up at her and managed a weak smile now that his anger was dissipated. “I’m sorry, Professor.”

“I understand, Kerry.” She gave him one last comforting pat. “We can discuss this tonight during Advanced Transformation.” Jessica didn’t immediately look upon the rest of the class as she addressed the one student who hadn’t realized their short confrontation was finished. “You need to sit, Lisa.” She finally gave the angry, defiant girl a stern look. “And you need to reconsider speaking because what will come out of your mouth will likely earn you a weekend’s detention.” She slowly raised her right eyebrow and continued staring until Lisa retook her chair.

“With that—” Jessica half-folded her arms just under here chests. “—I believe a break is in order. Fifteen minute to use the bathroom and whatever else, then we’re back in here in three groups to start lab.” She glanced at Annie and Kerry for just a second before turning back to the rest of the room with a slight smile on her face. “And anyone who isn’t comfortable accepting instructions from my minions will simply have to make do with me . . .”

 

As stated much earlier, a weekend detention with Jessica usually means getting turned into a sofa or chair or statue or something like that:  the woman is the Mistress of Transformation, and she can do that stuff with her eyes closed.  It’s not fun, and maybe because Lisa’s already been through that detention, she’s not ready for it again.

The “We can discuss this tonight during Advanced Transformation” is also kind of a subtle jab at the detractors.  Sure, she could give Kerry some form of punishment, but instead, she lets everyone know they’ll have a “discussion” that evening, because when you’re an advanced student you are treated differently from the rest of the rabble.  And while Kerry might get some kind of punishment, it’ll probably be something minor–like having to pinkie swear he won’t disrupt a class again by trying to make someone to call him out.  Which was exactly what he was trying to do.

Next scene is a Kerry scene as well–in fact, the next three pretty much are.

I wonder if anything bad is going to happen?

Late Yet Fanciful Colorings

Let me tell you, I’m dragging a bit this morning.  It feels like I have no energy, and that’s never a good thing.  It’s a bit of an ongoing thing, actually, because the last two nights I’ve crawled into bed about ten PM, which is usually ninety minutes earlier than I often get to sleep.  And it seems as if I can’t get into gear to write:  the six hundred words I present today I’ve had to drag out of my system.  Really, I don’t like it at all–

"No, no:  I'm getting to this story.  Only, right now, the inside of my eyelids look so nice . . ."

“No, no: I’m getting to this story. Only, right now, the inside of my eyelids look so nice . . .”

I have a feeling, however, that once I do a little running around, and I eat and take a nap, I may just finish this scene today.  I would like to get it out of the way and move on, because I’m really not enjoying this lurching about in the story.  Like Battlestar Galactica, it’s happened before and will happen again, but that doesn’t mean I like it one bit.

Where are we?  Oh, yeah:  Transformation Class, and minion Kerry was about to do his dance–

 

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

Kerry appeared a touch embarrassed for a second before picking up the lesson from Annie. “You can do the same thing, but it takes a bit of work to get the same sort of gloss that Annie’s getting because you’re changing the appearance of your own body.” He took a couple of steps closer to the class. “It’s almost like working with material but, you know, not.” He flashed a quick smile. “Just like with Annie, I started out with the larger changes first: hair and complexion. After I got those down I started working on finer control—”

Loorea Barling broke into Kerry discussion. “You can change hair and complexion?”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

“Like?”

“Well . . .” Kerry approached Loorea, holding out his hand the moment he reached her work area. “Give me your hand.”

She set her hand in his. “What are you going to do?”

“Nothing much—” He smiled, keeping his eyes focused on indigenous Australian girl. In a few seconds his skin and hair darkened as his pale complexion and ginger hair became a match for her darker skin and hair. “Just that.”

Loorea’s shock was evident. “Holy . . . You look like you could almost be my brother.”

 

It would be interesting to see him do this in the A Level Transformation, because there’s a student in there who may have some lingering memory of Kerry working this identical spell on her, and wouldn’t it be interesting to see if that tiny prod would be enough to bring her out of her memory adjustment.  Awkward for sure!

This leads into something else that happened back in good old Kansas City . . .

 

“I’ll take that as a complement.” He released Loorea’s hand and began backing away, letting his hair color and complexion slowly revert to their natural hues. “This is pretty easy for me; you’re not the first person I’ve practiced with, and I’d worked on changing my hair last year—”

“He’s can also do the same to others.” Annie held her hands in front of her as she rocked on her heels. “He sometimes practices on me.”

Loorea went from surprised to curious. “Can you show us, Kerry?”

Kerry turned slightly red before nodding. “Sure, I can do that.” He turned to Annie. “I need an assistant—”

“I can help there.” She stood in front of him, taking his hands. “Ready when you are, my love.”

Kerry ignored the light tittering from the few students who found Annie’s term of endearment amusing. He glanced at Loorea. “You watching?”

She nodded. “I am.”

“Okay, then—” A few seconds later Annie’s hair transformed from its normal lustrous chestnut color to a shade of red identical to Kerry’s. “There you are.”

Annie turned to face the class with a huge smile stretched across her face. “He did this same thing to me for Samhain, when we had aqua and blond hair for our costumes.”

 

So now we now that Kerry was the one who did their hair styling for the Samhain dance.  Wonder if he likes Annie as a ginger girl?  Because someone has a smart ass comment about Annie the Ginger Hair Girl–

 

Before Loorea had the opportunity to speak, Pleasure Pimenta, another of the members from Mórrígan coven, commented to the person sitting to her right. “She probably has him change her hair so she can dream about their kids.”

“I don’t dream about our kids—” Annie took two steps forward, the right side of her mouth curled upward. “But I do think about them. And I know they’ll be incredible regardless of the color of their hair.”

Elisha Tasköprülüzâde’s hand shot into the air. “Um—”

Eager to get back on track, Kerry dropped Annie’s transformation and turned to Elisha. “Go ahead.”

“Could you show us the nail thing?” The Turkish girl looked down for a moment, unused to this attention. “Back home my parents won’t let me wear nail polish, and it would be kinda cool if I could change the color of my nails when I go out with friends—” She looked around the room. “You know, ‘cause it would be nice.” She looked back at Kerry. “Does that make sense?”

He gave Elisha a warm smile. “I understand, really.”

“Do you mind showing? I mean . . .” She seems slightly flustered. “You being a boy, it might be weird.”

 

And now I have to write that part, yeah?  Because we all want to see if Kerry gets all weirded out because he’s a boy.  Who knows?  This could be the start of him becoming the lead singer in an 80s New Wave band . . .

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.

The Samhain Dance: Of Costumes and Congratulations

This installment was one of those I didn’t think was going to come off last night.  Why?  Because I didn’t start writing until about nine-thirty, due to the fact I was involved in a video chat with someone I know, and we were discussing dieting options.  It went on longer than I imagined, but hey, those thing happen.  I’m going to be jammed up a bit this coming weekend, and thing will turn hectic on the writing front.

But I’ll still be here.  Somehow.

Oh, and I finally shaved my head last night.  Now my wig stays right to my head with no moving around.  It’s something I’ve meant to do for a while, and now it’s done.  And, no:  there won’t be pictures.  Well, maybe a video . . .

Now the other people are starting to show up in the story, and that means you’ll start seeing costumes, of which I have a list because that’s how I roll.  Shall we begin, then?

 

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

They looked up in time as Nadine approached wearing a black and yellow-gold jumpsuit. Her red hair was layered around her shoulders, and something that looked like a small purple dragon sat upon her shoulder. “I was wondering when you’d show—” She stopped and gave both Annie and Kerry a careful examination. “Interesting outfits.”

“Thanks.” Kerry gave the “I could say the same thing—Kitty.” He looked up at the creature sitting on Nadine’s shoulder. “How you doing, Lockheed?”

Nadine chuckled at the dragon spoke using a combination of tweets, whistles, and chortles. “He says hi.”

Annie found herself impressed by Nadine’s outfit—and the dragon on her shoulder, which she figured was a homunculus. “Who are you supposed to be?”

Nadine looked to Kerry. “You want to tell her?”

He should his head. “I think I already did.”

Nadine turned her eyes upwards. “Yeah, you did.” She smiled at Annie. “I’m Kitty Pryde, and this—” She held up a gloved hand for the purple dragon to rub its face against. “—is Lockheed. He’s my best bud—aren’t you, dude?” The dragon spoke in the same gibberish language as before, seeming pleased and content.

Kerry filled in the blanks for Annie, figuring that she had no idea what they were saying. “Kitty’s a mutant—one of the X Men—just like the character Nadine played last year. You know how Wednesday’s call sign is Shadowcat ‘cause she can do phasing magic?”

“Yes.”

“Well—” He motioned towards Nadine. “Meet the real Shadowcat.”

 

Nadine seems to have a thing for playing comic book mutants, which probably means she reads comic books.  As Kerry stated, Kitty can phase through any material–walk through walls, if you will, just like Wednesday has shown she can do.  As for the creature on her shoulder . . . yeah, Lockheed, an alien who becomes Kitty’s best friend and companion, and who actually begins drinking heavily in one comic when it looks as if Kitty has died–which if you know the Marvel universe is almost always a load of bullshit.

A mutant girl and her dragon are never parted.

A mutant girl and her alien dragon are never parted.

His existence at the party will get mentioned, though it seems Annie is on the right track . . .

Now someone else shows up–

 

“Yeah, only I can’t do the same stuff Wednesday does, at least not yet.” Nadine shrugged. “I should start getting that this year.”

Annie looked forward to the day she would learn Phasing. Her mother once told her that she’d learned enough to be able to push small object through walls, but she’d always been too worried about something going wrong if she’d tried moving through a wall herself. “I hope Wednesday starts showing how that works; I’m eager to try.”

“Oh, I figured you would.” Nadine looked them both over once again. “Who are you supposed to be?”

“I was wondering that myself.” Jessica walked over dressed in a light, flowing white gown modified to allow her the use of her eight arms, four on each side of her torso. “I have to say I like the hair. Who did them?”

Annie pushed her aqua hair back from her shoulders. “Kerry did his, I did mine.” She reached over and mussed his now-bright blond locks. “This was one of the first things he taught me.”

“I see.” Jessica took a step closer to the couple. “Did you do something to your noses?”

“Thinned them out just a touch.” Kerry took in his Advanced Transformation instructor’s costume. “Are you Tou Mu?”

Jessica straighted a touch. “I’m impressed. Most people have guessed Kali.”

“Kali had four arms, not eight. And you’ve a star in one hand and the sun in another. Plus—” His hand moved up and down, as if he were tracing something upon Jessica. “Outfit’s all wrong for Kali, but not for a Chinese deity.”

Nadine looked down while shaking her head. “How do you know this stuff?”

“Learned it from a role playing game first, and then read more after that.” He shrugged. “Isn’t that what you did?”

“Kinda.” Nadine chewed her lower lip for a few seconds. “Comics with me, then started reading stuff on the Internet.”

Annie tugged at Kerry’s jacket sleeve. “Here they come.”

 

Jessica with eight arms–neat trick, but when you’re the Mistress of Transformation, anything is possible.  And Kerry is right:  you can learn about these things from role playing games, ’cause that’s where I first heard of Tou Mu, and then I went and looked her up.  By the way, Jessica didn’t change her complexion this year, so she’s straight-up dark Chinese deity.

She also doesn't look as if she came off a woodcarving.

She also doesn’t look as if she came off a woodcarving.

But now, there’s someone else.  Who is this “they” Annie speaks of coming?

 

“I see.” He raised his right hand in greeting. “Greetings, floor mates.”

Penny waved back. “Hail to you—” She stuffed her hands in the pockets of her black leather jacket. “Strange costumed creatures.” She turned to Jairo on her left. “You figure them out yet?”

“Are you kidding?” His shrug was almost hidden in the folds of his World War II military coat. “Bad enough they got that secret lab in the lower levels to work on their stuff.”

Annie giggled. “Can’t be much of a secret if you know where it’s at.” She smiled as she nodded in Alex’s direction. “You must be Rose, yes?” She already knew Penny was dressed as the Ninth Doctor from the show Doctor Who, and that Jairo had come as Jack Harkness from both Doctor Who and Torchwood. She’d gotten enough clues from Kerry to figure out Alex was dressed as one of the Doctor’s Companions.

Alex tugged on her Union Jack tee shirt. “Of course; just don’t ask me to speak in English accent.”

“You don’t want to hear it.” Penny shook her head. “It’s horrible.”

“I only have to pretend to be English girl—” She ran her fingers through her bangs. “At least I have proper hair.”

Kerry leaned towards Annie. “And it’s not even peroxided.”

Alex stuck out her tongue. “Which means I’m better than English girl.”

Oi.” Penny rolled her eyes before the three students moved closer to Jessica, Nadine, and their covermates. She faced Nadine. “By the way, I didn’t get the chance before, but congratulations on your win.”

“Thanks.” Nadine’s win came during Stage Two when Mórrígan raced against Cernunnos. “And congratulations on your two seconds.” She shook Penny’s hand before shaking Alex’s. “And a third, fourth, and fifth for you.” She shifted glances between all three of the Cernunnos fliers. “All of you; that was some racing out there today.”

 

So now their covenmates appear, and they look like they’re right out of An Empty Child:

And if you don't think Kerry won't say the trademark expression from this episode, you don't know me.

And if you don’t think Kerry won’t say the trademark expression from this episode, you don’t know me.

Also, for the first time we see someone crossplaying, as they say in the biz, ’cause Penny is being Penny, and she certainly wasn’t changed into a skinny white dude like Chris in the Middle in the above image.  Nope, she’s just being her awesome self playing a character neither her gender or ethnicity because she can.

So there we have nine hundred words of the scene continued, and that was enough to push the story over ninety-five thousand words.  And it allowed me to mark off people on my costume list:

Can't tell the characters without a--you know the rest.

Can’t tell the characters without a–you know the rest.

That’s the list of everyone who’ll be seen and/or mentioned, and they all have costumes.  I had to stretch my brain just a little to find something for everyone, and I have to say I did a good job.

Notice, though, that you still haven’t seen what Annie and Kerry are wearing.  Oh, sure, there are hints, but nothing for sure.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll show you.  Maybe.

Schedules to Keep, and Classes to Take Before They Sleep

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.

Fifty and change, but who's really keeping track.

Fifty and change, but who’s really keeping track.

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?”

“What’s what?”

“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?”

“Joe Haldeman.”

“The guy who wrote The Forever War?”

“Yes.”

“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:

But then, you knew I had one, right?

But then, you knew I had one, right?

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.

The New Paradigm

A bit more back in the grove last night, but only a bit–does nine hundred and eighty-nine words count as a groove?  Not too bad.  The scene severed it purpose and set up things for my kids, as evidenced by the title of this post.

One more scene exists for Chapter Five, and while thinking it through last night I realized:  it’s so far taken three chapters and about twenty-five thousand words to cover the six days since the kids left home and returned to school–and at the moment it’s only the Saturday before class begins.  Maybe forty-four thousand words will flow under the writing bridge before the first day of class begins–

Which reminds me:  the next couple of days will see me setting up the class rosters for two of the advanced classes since it would be nice to see with whom Annie and Kerry are attending those classes.  We may never see them, but I like to know they are there.  We’ll see a couple of those popping up in the next couple of chapters.

hold

Astria Porta?  The last time the kids visited that spot there was kissing.  Is this another kissing part?  Do we have to read it?

Kids, we read all the kissing parts.  And speaking of kissing . . .

Magical Kidlettes are resting on the easy chairs, and they were starting to discuss their ordeals.  Which sorta leads to this:

 

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

She noticed how slow and deliberate his movements were. “How are you feeling, my love?”

“Kinda sore all over.” He laced his fingers into hers. “I’ve never done that much in a few hours.”

Annie could empathize. While she was good with levitation, she’d felt the exertion. I suppose he was doing a number of changes quickly, and some of it wasn’t easy. “What’s important is you did. We both did.” She leaned over the arm of her chair and kissed his hand. “You do know that a year ago tonight were walked through Founder’s Gate?”

“Oh, yeah.” He leaned towards Annie. “It was the second thing I thought of this morning.”

“Really?” Annie grinned. “What was the first?”

“Ummm . . .” He moved closer and closer to Annie’s chair. “A girl with a cute accent.”

“You think my accent is cute?”

“One of many things . . .” He covered the last few centimeters between them and lightly brushed his lips against hers—

 

See?  Kissing.  If Honest Trailers ever did one for this story they’d rename the story, “Magic . . . and kissing.”  Probably followed by, “When the f@#k do these kids do any magic?  They’re always kissing.  Get a room, huh?”  They’re workin’ on it, Trailer Guy.

And Annie has a cute accent?  I know someone who doesn’t think it’s all that cute.  But as long as Kerry does, that’s all that matters.  It’s such a cute accent, he’s gonna cover it up–with his mouth.  There’s that kissing again . . .

 

“Ah, hem.”

They both turned towards the front of the room and faced the origination of the throat clearing. Standing between Professors Kishna and Salomon was a short, dark woman with long dark hair that reached to the middle of her back. Annie and Kerry had met Professor Tristyn Julin, the head of the Gift Department and the Applying Powers instructor, when they’d entered the building for testing, as this area was the South African instructor’s realm.

Professor Julin sat as Jessica and Vicky took positions to her left and right. “Well, I finally get to see the Lovey Dovey Couple in action inside my own department building.” She chuckled. “I feel honored.”

Both students returned their chairs upright. Kerry tried to look appropriately embarrassed: this wasn’t something that Kishna or Salomon hadn’t seen before, but he didn’t know the new professor outside of seeing her at special school functions and the Midnight Madness. “Sorry, Professor.”

 

You know it’s bad when an instructor you’ve never met before calls you by one of your school-wide nicknames–and does so in her own building in a semi-humorous way.  With your other instructors standing there as well.  Next to her.  Watching you.

But look at Annie:  does she seem bovvered?

 

Annie didn’t mind being seen: their reputation were well known throughout the school, and if the new professor hadn’t wanted them together that way, then something should have been said. Instead, she wanted to get to the results of their testing. “I take it you’ve examined the data?”

Julin chuckled and exchanged looks between her fellow instructors. “You were right: she does get right to business.” The Gifts instructor nodded slowly. “Yes, you two: we have completed examining the results of your data.” She glanced at something on her tablet, leaned forward. “I’m going to turn this over to Victoria and Jessica, as this really falls under their purvey as far as instruction goes—

Both children grew more attentive upon hearing this last statement. Kerry turned to Annie. “Does this mean—”

Vicky spoke up, taking over the conversation. “Yes, it does, Kerry.” She looked straight at Annie. “We’ve confirmed that you personally weren’t levitating and that you have the Flight gift. I’ll set up an appointment with Isis so she can start training you.”

“Of course, Vicky.” Annie remembered that Isis was the only person at school who could fly, and that she would be responsible for all the hands-on training elements. “When will that begin?”

 

Annie not only gives zero shits if she’s caught with her lips locked around her soul mates, but she called a professor by her first name in front of other professors.  Now . . . that could be due to school not officially starting–in the next scene it’s started that it’s Saturday after their arrival–or it could be due to getting real chummy with other instructors over the last year.  Either way, Annie gets the lowdown from Vicky:

 

“No right away: I’ll leave that up to Isis to set up a schedule. Most of it will occur on Friday mornings, but it won’t be every Friday, and sometimes you’ll work on other dates.” Vicky turned to Kerry. “For the first class, however, I want you there.”

“Me?” He was somewhat surprised to be asked.

“Yes, you. I want you to act as Annie’s chase when the time comes.” She eyed him carefully. “You know what that is?”

He grinned. “You want me to follow and watch her when she’s flying.”

Vicky nodded. “Yep. Since you’re in Advanced Flight, and already qualified to fly solo outside the school walls, it’s a no-brainer that we want you to act as Annie’s chase.”

It made a great deal of sense to Kerry. He’d not only be able to help if the need arose, but he knew Annie, and he might see things in how she performed that might indicate how she was feeling. “Okay, no problem.” He reached out for Annie’s hand, which appeared for him to touch. “We’ll do this.”

“Great. I’ll leave it to Isis to tell you how she wants things done.” Vicky leaned forward and looked across Tristyn to the Transformation instructor and coven leader. “Jess?”

 

Kerry gets to play chase plane for Annie, which is fun, fun, fun.  Actually, it means he gets to spend time outside the walls with Annie, even if they are in the air for all of that.  This is actually going to lead to one of the scenes I’ve seen in my head that I so want to write, but probably not for another fifty or sixty thousand words.  Don’t worry:  they get to do a lot of flying this year, mostly with Kerry just following and being quite.  Maybe he’s training for marriage?   Hi ho!

If Jessica is getting called, then that means there must be some news for Kerry, right?

 

She nodded. “Kerry, we have the same conformation for you: it would appear you have the Mimic gift, which means if you weren’t all ready in Advanced Transformations, I’d moving you in from the regular class.” Jessica sat back and crossed her legs. “Now, as you’ll need to learn how the spells work along with being able to apply the Mimic gift to the appropriate ones, I’ll work with you one-on-one for a bit each class.” A bright grin appeared on her face. “Given your propensity to learn magic quickly, I imagine you’ll have a mastery of basic Mimicry before Yule.”

Professor Julin folded her hands across her stomach and pressed her thumbs together. “Though you’re not officially part of the Gifts program—because your Gifts are only a small part of what you can do—we’ll be here to help out when possible, such as coordinating with Doctor Gallagher when it’s necessary to perform medical exams.” Annie and Kerry both smiled: it was unusual to hear another member of the staff call Coraline “Doctor Gallagher”, a title she never used herself unless it was absolutely necessary. “We probably won’t see you down here too often—”

Jessica chuckled. “Unless either of you spawn another Gift.”

Tristyn nodded. “It’s rare, but it sometimes happens.”

Annie slowly shook her head. “I think—” She lanced back to Kerry, who was still holding her hand. “—one gift apiece is enough for us both.”

 

None of the “Nurse Coraline” stuff here:  apparently the head of Mutant Studies–one of the nicknames for the Gifts Department–ain’t down with the school doctor not referring to herself as the school doctor.  Now, Coraline does call herself the school doctor, or Chief Medical Officer, when necessary, but she got used to the nurse handle before she had to take over medical duties at school suddenly, and just never got out of the habit.

There we have it:  witches, sorceresses, and now they are down with their mutant powers.  We’ll see how those play out in future scenes, but it’s gonna be fun.  More or less.