Visualizing the Unseeable Flow

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

A Blasting From the Past

Here it was yesterday, when I was putting up the excerpt, that I mentioned, “I should tell you some day about how Isis helped save the school.”  I even mentioned that I might do that today.  Well . . . today is here, and for once I’ve kept my word.

Back during July Camp Nano, 2013, I decided to write the actual first novel of The Foundation Chronicles.  Reason for that was I needed to get a feel for the location and the characters, but mostly I wanted to set down a certain event in the school’s history that affected a hell of a lot of people:  The Scouring.  As I’ve mentioned to others, The Scouring really went on for about a year.  It started with an internal attack on Salem, performed by a group of deep-cover Deconstructors and some student followers, and came to a head on 11 September, 2001, with the attack on the World Trade Center.  At that The Foundation said, “Screw this,” and spent the next year going scorched earth on the Deconstructors, and when it was over they were no longer a problem–or so we thought until ten years later and the Day of the Dead attacks around the world.

The events at Salem were traumatic, and with good reason:  there was a lot of death going down.  You’ll see why in a moment, but let me get things set up first with the staff roster, so you know who the players are:

It's always easier to know the players when you have the cards.

It’s always easier to know the players when you have the cards.

Staff is on the left and instructors are on the right.  Immediately you’ll notice there are a lot more men teaching.  On the staff side, three of the four positions are held by name, the inverse of what it is in my current novels.  You’ll also see that someone in charge of spirits and apparitions is running Jessica’s coven, Ceridwen, which is almost unheard of as well, as they are known for their transformation experts.  You’ll recognize four people as well:  Ramona Chai–this was her first year teaching–Matthias, Jessica, Erywin–who is the longest teaching instructor in the current books, followed by Jessica–and Madeline.  You’ll also see Maddie’s husband David, and if you’ve been keeping up on current events, you’ll know you don’t see him all the way to the end of this book . . .

That was the set-up there.  Where are Isis and Wednesday?  They were students.  So was Deanna, who also played an important part in the defense of the school.  But right now we will see what those first two did to keep the school safe.  Here is the scene that tells it all, from start to finish, with a few interjections from me at times.  Enjoy.

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles:  The Scouring, copyright 2013 by Cassidy Frazee)

The Great Flight

As she’d planed Isis headed for the Great Hall less than a minute after Professor Greenfield had dropped her off at Cernunnos Tower. She didn’t want to hold up and wait to see what was going to happen: she wanted to see what was happening. Yes, it was dangerous, but she thought she could help in some fashion—

She could also see what Cleo and Wednesday were doing. Knowing them, they were probably checking each tower making certain everything was good—or at least safe.

The door to the West Transept eased open with but a whisper. Isis tip-toed inside, listening. She thought she heard running, but since everything here was stone unless someone was in some hard-soled street shoes, one wouldn’t hear anything.

Except Isis did hear running. Followed by the sharp cracks of energy spells striking something: could be walls, could be floors or railing . . .

Could be something else.

Standing in the West Transept she heard doors slam, heard more energy spells launched. There was yelling and cursing; Isis recognized one of the voices as that of Chief of Security Heidenberg, and while she wasn’t one hundred percent certain, she though the other voice might be—

“Will you get off my ass?” she heard Heidenberg scream. Though she’d stepped out from the transept hallway, the jutting overhang of the second floor walkway hid her. “You’re the headmaster! You should have your own bypass!”

“You were the one shooting at her,” Headmaster Hearst replied, his voice becoming more of a low growl than a shout. “I thought you were suppose to be a dead shot.”

“You don’t need to worry—” His grunt carried throughout the Rotunda. “She’ll be dead soon. Give me a second—” He grunted once more. “I’ll have this shied down in no time.

There was more conversation, but Isis wasn’t listening. She pressed herself into the shadows as she heard the East Transept entrance open and someone enter the building. Isis was good at hiding: there weren’t many things she’d learned in the Sorcery and Black Magic class, but the Blend With Darkness spell was one that she could do in her sleep.

 

Blend With Darkness is a spell that hasn’t been touched on yet, but it’s only a matter of time.  It’s another of those shadow spells that allows you to become one with the shadow, or the night if you’re Batman, and remain unseen.  Think of it as taking a shadow and wrapping it around you, and then just creeping along against the walls so you remain unseen–that’s Blend With Darkness.  Fun stuff, right.

The reason the Headmaster and the Chief of Security are trying to get into the library–which has been locked down by the librarian–is because they were going to destroy everything inside.  Given there are like forty thousand books on so many different subjects, most of them related to magic, and some of them one of a kind books, consuming the library at Salem would have been a tremendous loss.

 

The person walking into the Rotunda was a girl, probably a student. Isis thought she recognized the attire, but it wasn’t until the person was almost in whatever passed for light in the Rotunda that she saw it was Wednesday. Isis saw something else, too: blood. All over Wednesday’s face and chest and shoulder—

What the hell? Isis watched Wednesday walking out from the shelter of the East Transept, and the overhang walkway of the second floor. In a matter of seconds she was going to be in the Rotunda, and from where Wends would be standing, Hearst and Heidenberg—who sounded like they were still working hard on getting into the library—would likely see her, even in the darkness.

If they were throwing spells at someone, then they were trying to stop someone, she thought. And if they see Wends . . .

There was a loud explosion from outside: Isis felt the vibration through the soles of her feet. What ever had just blow had been close, and there were only a few things close by that weren’t inside the Great Hall. Isis didn’t think the eruption came from behind her, so it wasn’t something in the west garden—or her coven tower. It felt like—

“Sounds like Ram took care of Åsgårdsreia,” Hearst said. Isis’ stomach clutched as she heard the headmaster ask the chief of security, “Are you about done?”

 

Ram is Nawaazish Ram, who was the Coven Leader of Åsgårdsreia.  That explosion Isis felt–Ram taking “care of Åsgårdsreia”?  He blew it up the tower, with the sleeping students, or those going to sleep, inside.  Deanna is in Åsgårdsreia Tower at the time, doing her best to get everyone out.  But that’s another story . . .

 

That was her cue to move. Keeping the Blend With Darkness spell about her, she flew across the Rotunda, staying low to the ground so the shadows there would keep her hidden. Flying was the fastest way across the tremendous expanse, getting her to Wednesday before the girl could wander out where she could be seen.

She flew in behind Wednesday and grabbed her around the shoulders. She landed and pulled the girl back into the transept wall closest to the Northeast Stairs. Isis dropped her spell and whispered in her friend’s ear, “Wends, it’s me.”

The light shock that had enfolded Wednesday since the incident at Blodeuwedd Tower vaporized as soon as she heard Isis’ voice. “Ice,” she whispered back. “God, I’m glad it’s you!”

Now that she was close to her friend, Isis could better see the bloody condition of her face and night clothing. “Damn! What happened?”

Wednesday saw no need to dance around the truth. “Cleo’s dead.”

Isis found it difficult to speak. “She’s dead?”

“So’s Professor Warnstedt. Dessauer killed them both.”

So Wends was right. Isis was now worried about Professor Greenfield, wondering if she’d found one of the other two . . . “Wait: where’s Dessauer?”

“I killed him.” Wednesday stood, keeping her back pressed against the wall. “I locked down Blodeuwedd, then went and locked down Mórrígan.” She turned her head so she could see Isis. “Then I came here, ‘cause . . .” Her voice caught in her throat. “It was the fastest way to go to find you.”

 

Wednesday is covered in blood because she was standing next to Cleo–who was a close friend of Isis’–and Professor Warnstedt–the Coven Leader of Blodeuwedd–when both pretty much exploded.  At least their head and chest did, respectively.  Wednesday then killed Dessauer by wrapping him in a mini-tornado of dirt and stone, and flaying him alive.  Let me point out here:  Professor Dessauer was not only the Coven Leader of Mórrígan, but the Head Sorceress.  And Wednesday killed him.  This is why it’s said if you really know your magic, you can do anything, and even a witch with a mastery of most common spells is not a person with whom to trifle.

She kept telling people to wait to see who would die.  She got tired of waiting.

She kept telling people to wait to see who would die. She got tired of waiting.

 

Though now wasn’t the time to say she was touched, Isis was. She’d just discovered she’d lost one of her close friends, and it was a blow that was hammering at her heart. For Wednesday to say she’d come looking for Isis, after everything that had happened to her the last few minutes, meant far too much for her to vocalize.

There wasn’t time for that, though. On the second floor the Hearst was getting tired of the lack of process by his Chief of Security. “I thought you said you were going to break through this,” he said in a loud, pissed off voice.

Heidenberg wasn’t in the mood to fight with the headmaster. “I am almost there!”

“You better break through it now, goddammit—”

Cause if you don’t, Isis thought, you’re going to move on to something elseand I think I know what that is . . . “Wends—” She crowded next to her and looked past her, past the expanse of the Rotunda, to the opening on the second floor directly across from where they stood. “We gotta get up to the security station.”

Wednesday knew about the security center, and she knew of the time Isis had spent there this year as an intern: this newest part was confusing, however. “Why?”

“I have . . .” Oh, god, don’t say that: it’s such a cliché. “I think something really bad is going to happen. At night the outer defense screens are left on to keep people from coming in over the wall, either flying or teleporting.” She stepped in front of Wednesday. “The headmaster and Heidenburg is up there; I think they went after the librarian—”

And they did.  Along with the doctor as well–the same one who trained Coraline.

Now, why does Isis want to get up to the Security Station?  Because she interned at the Security Center this year of schooling.  However, a few weeks before the events here, the Chief of Security told her she wasn’t needed any longer, and revoked all her access.  But this is one of the reasons Isis knows about school security:  she was trained here.  And she’s a smart girl . . .

 

“River?” Wednesday like the Head Librarian a great deal, and couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to hurt her—like they wouldn’t hurt Cleo . . . “She’s up there?”

“I don’t know. I came in, it sounded like someone was shooting off spells.” She leaned in close to her friend. “I’m afraid they’re going to pulled down the outer screens.”

Wednesday didn’t need to ask more questions. “You think others are coming.”

“Maybe.” She looked down, sighing. “Something blew up—”

“I heard it.”

“They’ve killed students.” Isis took one step back. “I think they’re going to kill everyone.”

The fear hit as soon as Isis was through speaking. Wednesday, covered with the blood of her friends, and a little from their killer, didn’t want to die. She didn’t want to be here, but she didn’t expect she could just walk out the main gate right this moment, either. “What do we have to do?” she asked, her voice grave.

Isis thought it best not to say too much. “Turn around and take a step away from the wall.”

Wednesday did as she was told. “Okay, now—whuuuu!”

Isis started hovering as soon as Wednesday turned around. She wrapped her legs firmly around Wednesday’s waist before grabbing her under the arms. Once she had her, Isis lifted them both off the ground, turned, and sailed into the Rotunda.

 

And here we go:  Isis flying through the Great Hall holding on to Wednesday for dear life.

 

She hadn’t put her shadow spell up, but she didn’t need to, because they were across the Rotunda in a matter of seconds, then a turn to the left and down the West Corridor towards the Atrium—

Attack spells went off around them, and Isis heard a yell from somewhere behind them. She wasn’t sure who was yelling, but it didn’t matter. She moved up and down as they headed away from the Rotunda.

Wednesday was too shocked to be scared; the shots landing near them hadn’t even registered. “What are you going to do?”

They slowed as they entered the Atrium by the Main Entrance. “You need to do that portal thing you do.”

“What?” A few months before Wednesday had mastered the Mater Transition spell, which would allow a person to move through a physical barrier. Professor Ram had been extremely surprised that she, a C Level, could do something that E and F Levels couldn’t master; she now wondered if there was more than surprise behind some of the things he’d said at the time . . . “Yeah, I can do it, but—”

Isis crossed the Atrium and entered the East Corridor, turning north and accelerating. “But my ass. We’re going to have about three seconds for you to phase us through, ‘cause I got a feeling that we’re racing to get to the center now.”

Close to the ground floor, the Bell Tower entrance flashed by. “I can’t do it that fast!”

“Then we’re gonna crash into the wall.” Isis hugged her friend. “Nice to know you, Wends.”

“You can’t do this!” Wednesday didn’t realize she was shouting, didn’t know how her voice was carrying. “There’s no time!”

“Then you better find it—”

Both girls shot out into the Rotunda. Isis saw the Headmaster Hearst and Heidenberg standing near the Northwest Staircase, both looking as if they were going to blast them. Hope you’re ready, she thought as she altered her course and headed for a wall spot at the third floor level. “Now!” she yelled, then half-closed her eyes.

Isis felt the wall approaching more than saw it. She half expected to slam into stone and brick, feel her skull cave in as her body crumpled, and maybe remain conscious long enough to feel their impact upon the floor below.

Instead there was the momentary feeling of being pushed through something cold, then they were hitting a floor and skidding to a stop in the middle of some heavy darkness.

They’d made it; they were in the upper storage room directly over the Security Center. Isis had been here once to put file some old equipment away, but she was aware there was a staircase here, somewhere, going to the second floor, and then they only had to go down the corridor.

She heard Wednesday ask, “Were are we?”

Isis was still holding on to her after their passage thought the wall. “We’re over the Security Center—second floor.”

“We’re over the center?”

“Yeah, we—”

They fell out of the darkness and into the light, hitting the floor below hard. Isis hadn’t expected to drop like that, so she didn’t have time to soften their fall— She landed on top of Wednesday, who started screaming. “Wends—”

Here eyes were filled with tears. “Do what you have to do!” She shot Isis a worried look. “Go!”

All the computer monitors were on, the screen savers going. Isis jiggled the mouse and brought one to life, then pulled up a log-in screen. She’d been told her information wasn’t in the system any longer, but . . . She typed in the system admin ID, then the password. She’d used this more than a few times to monitor things, and Isis figured Heidenberg hadn’t changed those after revoking her personal access.

In two seconds she was on the system admin screen. “I’m in!” she squealed.

Gasping for air, Wednesday said, “Get-get everything up.”

Isis brought up a schematic for the school and the grounds. She checked the defense shields; they were low but still in place. She scaled them to one hundred percent and locked down all outside access gates. She activated the anti-teleportation spells; those might hurt the instructors, but it would hurt the bad guys just as much. Lastly, she locked down most of the Great Hall: the Dining Hall, the Hospital, the Admin Wing, the Library, the Security Section—all locked down, all inaccessible without the proper ID.

She took a few seconds to deactivate Heidenberg’s profile, so even if he did know an override he couldn’t used them from any terminal. Lastly she changed the system admin password, then logged in on another terminal before shutting down the one she had used to perform all this chicanery.

Only then did she activate the alarms, which—not surprisingly—had been deactivated.

 

I’ve done a bit of security on computers, and most places where I worked never changed the System Admin signon, so the password was always the same, and it was set never to expire:  who wants to mess up and forget that password?  Since the Chief of Security never figured on Isis getting into the security center again, why change anything?  It’s really how people are.

And why did Isis know that login anyway?  Because she was probably asked to do some work on the servers that required System Admin access, and it was given to her.  And the password wasn’t changed after that because people are lazy.  And, no:  it wasn’t 123456.  They’re not that lazy.  But I have been at jobs where the Sys Admin password was the one that came with the computer, and that meant it was the same as the profile.  Like I said:  lazy.

 

Isis spun around, a big smile on her face. “We did it! God, Wend—oh, shit!” She fell to her knees next to her friend, who was laid out on her back. She examined Wednesday’s right leg: it was broken two-thirds of the way down her thigh and bent at a strange angle. “Oh, hell, man—”

“I’m okay,” she said weakly. “I broke it when we fell.” Wednesday sucked in a huge lung-full of air. “I put up a shield around us—”

“I’ve got the shields up.”

“Well, we have another.” She smiled up at Isis, her face ashen from shock. “We did good, huh?”

Isis retrieved a first aid kit from the wall. He had it open before she was kneeling next to the bloody, broken girl. She pulled a vial of greenish liquid from inside and gave it to Wednesday to sip; Isis knew it would help cure her shock. After that she could numb her leg and straighten it—

And then we just wait to see who comes to our aid.

She smiled at Wednesday. “Yeah, Wends.” She laid her hand upon the girl’s shoulder. “We did good.”

 

If they hadn’t dialed up the outer defense screens, other Deconstructors would have come in and torched the place to the bedrock–just like they wanted to do a decade later.  And the bad guys didn’t want to let them in early, because they were worried their chicanery would get discovered and the wrong people would get alerted–like a certain Guardian who shows up a few chapters later.

And there you have it:  how Isis and Wednesday saved the school.

All Accounted For

A long, somewhat useless weekend, and now it’s back to the grind and the start of June, which means it feels like I didn’t do a lot, and compared to some weekends, I didn’t.  But, strangely, I got a lot done.

I did spend several hours getting my coven numbers and attendance in order, because I’m strange that way.  It wasn’t enough to make sure I had the right numbers in each tower, but I did a bit of cross-checking to make certain I had the right numbers in each level.  Remember how I said I like to keep my books balanced?  Yeah, that’s what I was doing, making sure I didn’t have an extra slip in there somewhere.

Once I knew my numbers were right, it was a matter of finding each of my students a home, and then giving them a name.  Both those are somewhat daunting tasks, because you have to find something legitimate for each country.  You start roaming all over the world and before you know it, your wandering eyes finds strange and interesting things . . .

Like that blue divet in the upper left hand corer of the island.  That's the resulted of the biggest boom the US ever set off, and it helped get Godzilla made.

Like that blue divot in the upper left hand corer of the island. That’s the resulted of the biggest boom the US ever set off, and it helped get Godzilla made.

I’m always finding stuff like that.  But I don’t want to wander again, so let’s get back on track.

I felt I needed to fill out my covens, because if for no other reason I can look at them and pull in characters are needed to fill out the stories where needed.  As I also did with the B Levels, as the novel progress I know who moved up to the next level, and who didn’t, so for the next book, when it comes time to figure out who the new A Levels are, I’ll know.  I’ll know who to move into advanced classes and put into race teams, if needed.  When Annie and Kerry become C Levels and take over the duties of welcoming the new B Levels to the second floor, I’ll know who those students are.

And since their coven is the smallest, I filed them out first.

Yeah, the kids are all here, and they're all right.

Yeah, the kids are all here, and they’re all right.

Here are all my Snakey kids, ready to hit the ground running.  A few interesting things popped up.  One, in five of the six levels , there’s only one boy.  The girls outnumber the boys, but only by the thinnest amount, unlike the populations of the other covens.  Demographically they’re from all over:  three are from North America, four are from South America, six are from Europe, three are from Africa, three are from Asia, and two can be considered part of Oceania.

In time I’ll fill out the other covens; probably sooner than one would expect.  I know which one is next:  it’s the East Point of the Pentagram, because I gotta balance out the West Point, right?

As for the actual writing of the novel . . . just under five hundred words, which is a better Sunday than I’ve done of late.  It’s a continuation of Wednesday wanting to ask the kids a question, and getting to that question.

 

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

Wednesday waited for the kids to sit, lightly tugging at the heme of her sweater while she watched them get comfortable. She stood about two meter in front of them: she figured it would be the best way to keep their attention. “I don’t know if you’ve heard, but a few instructors are considering using you a minions once in a while.”

“We’ve heard.” Annie tasted the last of her grilled cheese and cider as she cleared her throat. “We spoke with Deanna last Friday, and she told us.”

“I figured that would happen: she was there at the dinner when the subject came up, and I knew you visited her first thing on Get Reacquainted Day.” Wednesday lightly rubbed her upper lip. “I’d like to ask you to come and help me in my class.”

Kerry exchanged glanced with Annie: they’d already discussed the minion situation, and believed Wednesday would be one of the first to ask. “We can help—” He chuckled softly. “But we’ll need to get out of history and math if you want us to help with the A Levels.”

Wednesday rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet. “I don’t imagined I’d have difficultly getting Maddie and Adric to let you skip class for the day, as long as it didn’t become a regular thing.” She referred to Professors Palmescoff and Lewiston, who taught the B Level History and Advanced Math courses occurring at the same time as Wednesday’s A Level Basic Spell Casting. “But I had another class in mind—”

Annie moved closer to Kerry, warming herself against the encroaching chill in the air. “Which one?” She figured the A Level class was the one of choice: after all, they knew all the simple spells, though perhaps Wednesday wanted them to help out the C Levels, too . . .

Wednesday looked down for just a few seconds before speaking. “I was thinking the B Level Spells class.” The silence that followed stretched on for nearly five seconds before she threw open her hands. “Well?”

“You really want us to help out . . .” Kerry swallowed while coming up with the right expression. “Our old class?”

Annie almost snorted. “It’s not really our old class. We’ll never go there.”

“Unless you come and be my minions.” Wednesday stopped rocking left and right now that she was past the point of asking her question. “The question I have is: are you gonna feel strange helping out people who you see in other classes every day?”

 

Here’s the kicker:  when it comes to minions instructors always get them from the upper levels.  Every once in a while they’ll ask one or two students to help out with a lab or exercise, as Helena did in A Level Sorcery when she was teaching the kids to throw up shields and had Annie and Kerry toss some light Air Hammers at them, but it’s a rare thing for an instructor to pull in someone from an advanced class and have them do minion duty for kids in their own level.

I’ll finish this scene tonight, because I’m looking forward to getting into the next scene and closing out the chapter.  After this we get wingmates back together, and you will believe a girl can fly.

The Characters That Are In My Life

Last night was just a bit boring.  I worked on a project at Panera, but I didn’t get real far with it before my head wasn’t in the right spot.  It was slow going.  Perhaps tonight will be better, with the right mind set and a nice dinner and some coffee here, because I have stuff to do.  You know . . . things.

I did make another map, though.  What does it look like?

Looks kinda . . . mappy.

Looks kinda . . . mappy.

It’s amazing where my imagination takes me when I let it.  And there is a scene associated with this map that, when I get around to writing it, will melt your hearts.  Well, at least mine.  It melted mine last night.  And it’s another of those that needs a drawing, but . . . it sorta has one already

But today I thought I’d answer a reader’s question.  So, for the first question to answer, I turn to a read who has enlightens and frustrated me to no ends at times, just because.  I’m smiling when I say that, because there have been some great conversations around my characters.  So take it away for the first question!

 

Renxkyoko Iglesias
I’d like to know who the characters are that you most relate to. You can also talk about the characters that you like most, besides Annie and Kerry.

 

First off, this is a bit of a trick question, because when it comes to relating to characters, Kerry is number one with a bullet.  As I’ve mentioned before, Kerry came about original from a role playing game, and if you know anything about role playing, you’ll know it’s not all that difficult to throw a bit of yourself into the mix when you’re throwing numbers down on the page.  More than a few of the things that have happened to his so far in the story happened to me, and I’ve drawn on that hurt a lot when I needed him to hurt.

I would not be lying if I said I’ve Mary Sued him just a bit, and I’m okay with that.  I’m okay with it, and at the same time I’m a bit hurt by it as well, because when you’re writing about characters who are somewhat stylized versions of yourself, you try not to make them too good, or give them too many nice things.  Kerry has a lot of flaws, not the least of which are his fears of being abandoned and of going through life not having anyone.  Now, the “not having anyone” fear isn’t as much any more, not since he returned completely to his Annie, but the fact that he freak out in the first place thinking she was leaving him is pretty much the proof in the one hundred and twelve ounce can of pudding that he isn’t completely free of his doubts, and that will come back to haunt him from time-to-time.

Kerry has something at his age that I didn’t have, and that’s love.  He feels it from Annie, and he loves her back tremendously.  That’s the thing when you write about characters who possess extensions of your own essence:  you can give them thing you desire, and he has that with Annie.  Kerry would move a mountain for that girl, and . . . well, you’ll see.  One day.  If I ever get around to writing that particular novel.

Now, what about characters I like the most.  That’s easy.  They are, with their birthday’s included:

Erywin Sladen (10/23/1967), Helena Lovecraft (03/29/1968), Deanna Arrakis (06/26/1985), and Wednesday Douglas (06/11/1986).

Of all of these characters, Helena was created first, and she’s went through the most changes.  I’ve admitted that she was based upon Lucy Lawless, in particular the character she played in Battlestar Galatica.  But as I started putting this world together I didn’t like that she was just another Basic White Girl, and I started thinking:  what if her mother’s line were still witches, but they were native to New Zealand?  What if they were Māori?  What if Helena’s grandmother was the first Māori to go to Salem, and ended up becoming Head Sorceress for a while?  What if Helena’s father–also a witch–married her mother against the wishes of his family?  What if . . ?

And that’s how Helena changed into the dark haired, black eyed, tattoo markings, take no nonsense woman she is today.  And, I believe, a far more interesting one that I first developed.  Others went through similar changes, but Helena pretty much changed the most.

Deanna is an Iraqi woman.  She was born there but her parents left in 1989 and moved to France.  Mother is a doctor, father is a manager of procurement for a shipping company.  Her family is Muslim, but pretty moderate in their practice.  Deanna used to wear a hijab when she first attended Salem–it was her own choice, not that of her parents–but after the Scouring she began to wear it less often, and by the time she was an E Level she’d stopped the practice, though she still tends to favor long skirts and slacks and jeans, sweaters in the winter and lovely, colorful tunics in the fall, spring, and summer.

We know Wednesday also played a part in the Scouring, and Isis and she pretty much did something that saved the school.  We also know that Wednesday’s father was a former Russian spy, was relocated to Arizona, and eventually wound up in Austria working for a pharmaceutical company.  Wednesday got her name because that’s the day on which she was born–look up the date if you don’t believe me.  Of all the instructors Wednesday is the most easy going, and the one who seems to relate to her students on a person level–though we know she’s not the only one.

Last but not least there’s Erywin, who is probably my favorite character of the whole bunch.  She’s a witch, a Wiccan, and a lesbian, and I’d always developed her that way.  I’ve also developed her with a relationship with Helena in mind, too, and she’s always been forward and outspoken–mostly because as a kid she put up with a huge amount of crap.  She relates to Kerry the most–as Helena relates to Annie–because she sees a lot of herself in the lad, with a few interesting parallels in their lives, too.

It’s interesting to see them lined up in my head.  Erywin has always been style conscious, and it shows in the way she dresses.  Helena is pretty casual and not a bit scary with her black slacks and thick heels booties, her dark pullover and her long, leather jacket.  Deanna is colorful and modest, and the most demure of the women, and Wednesday is just like the students she teaches:  open, friendly, and not a bit wild.  I can see them in my mind’s eye, looking a little like Disney characters . . .

An interesting thing about them, though.  Erywin and Helena are lesbians, and Wednesday–even though she’s in a relationship with Isis–considers herself bisexual.  Deanna is straight, and someone has her in his sights–she knows that Trevor Parkman finds her “interesting”.  Is that what the kids are calling it these days?

And they are only a year apart from the person next to them.  Erywin is a year older than Helena, and Deanna is a year older than Wednesday.  Also, Erywin is a coven leader, as is Deanna–must be the age thing.  Because witches age slower, Erywin and Helena can pass for their early to mid-thirties, Deanna looks college age, and Wednesday could, with the right outfits, pass for a teenager.

There you go.  I hope that answered most everything.

Along the Shore of The Foundation Pond

Thursdays are never a good writing night for me.  I was tired, for one, and actually napped sometime around six-thirty.  Then Singin’ in the Rain came on, and though I’ve seen that movie maybe a dozen times, I can’t turn away from its greatness.  The lateness of the hour plus being sort of out of it night resulted in just under six hundred words being written–

Ah, but it’s a great set up.

The title of this post refers to something said a long time ago by Nadine when she first started to tutor Kerry for the Ostara Performance.  She downloaded sheet music from their Internet, and mentioned that if it had been created, The Foundation had access.  Her comment at the time was, “Welcome to the Pond,” meaning here was the place where one could find everything The Foundation had their fingers upon.

It’s also a secretive little place as well, a much smaller location within the gigantic ocean that is the world as a whole.  That’s because The Foundation has things that no one else does, and for now they’re keeping it pretty much too themselves.  Like, you know, being able to heal even the worst injuries over night–like what’s happened to a certain kid from Cardiff a few times during the course of this story, or the repairs made to the broken arm and cracked skull that his girlfriend received some time back.

Just imagine what the world would be like if everyone had that.

"Should I release one of our cures this week, or let the conspiracy theorists keep at it a few years more?"

“Should I release one of our cures this week, or let the conspiracy theorists keep at it a few years more?”

Here is what I wrote about Salem’s particular place in that pond.  Witches have gathered, but they’re not standing around a cauldron; it’s more like they’re relaxing comfortably while waiting for someone . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Mathilde closed the door to the First Floor Library in the Instructor’s Residence, gently pushing it against the frame until she heard the latch snap closed. She turned back to the other women assembled in the room with her. “I’m glad we didn’t have many students to meet tonight.” She sighed as she retook her seat. “It’s been a long day.”

“Graduation Day is always long.” Wednesday stretched her legs out before her and pushed her arms over her head. “It’s bad enough we have to get all dressed up—”

“Something you should do more often.” Jessica removed her heels and flexed her toes. “You’re so adorable when you look like an adult.”

Wednesday began laughing with a couple of the other instructors in the room. Besides being the youngest instructor in the room, she was also the one who still looked the most like a student. “Yeah, well, how about you kiss my ass, Jess? The kids don’t seem to mind, and neither does Isis. Besides, I ain’t an ex-model like you—”

“I can show you how to become one.”

“Maybe tomorrow.” She adjusted here skirt and crossed here legs. “I want to finish this up and take a long, hot, soaking bath.”

Erywin, who was sitting to Wednesday’s right, nodded. “Same here. I want to get undressed and into my night clothes and spend the rest of the evening snuggling.”

Sitting all the way to the left of the collected group of women, Helena chuckled. “I know how my time will be spent tonight.”

“Isn’t it spent that way most evenings?” Erywin turned to her right, where Mathilde sat. “It is a bit disappointing to have only four students tonight. I had hoped for a slightly larger selection this year.”

“Better four great students than eight mediocre ones.” Mathilde checked her smart phone display, which remained black. “At least we have two out of the way—”

“And two to go.” Jessica ran a long nail across the tip of her nose. “Saved the best for last, no?”

Wednesday nodded. “I’d say so.”

The screen of Mathilde’s mobile came on and she checked the message. “They’re here.” She turned to the women assembled upon her left. “Before we start, I have to ask: are you certain this is what we want?”

Erywin nodded. “We’ve discussed this for four days: it’s decided.”

“It has.” Wednesday folder her hands into her lap. “You know what I think.”

“It’s what I want to do as well.” Ramona Chai slipped her feet back into her low heels. “I don’t see a problem.”

Mathilde nodded. “Jessica? Vicky?”

The Mistress of Transformation leaned forward so she could see the headmistress better. “You know what I’ve said all along.”

Vicky shrugged and nodded once. “As well as with me. And there’s the other matter—”

“Yes, I know, Vicky.” Mathilde nodded back. “We’ll get to that tonight as well.” She eyed the last silent person in the room. “Helena? No opinion?”

“Only the same one I’ve given you for the last week.” She leaned against the right arm of her over-sized chair and crossed her legs. “It’s the same one I’d give you now.” Helena pointed at the phone near the headmistress’ right hand. “Now that you know the answer, go on and bring them in.”

Mathilde picked up the phone and held it close. “Send them up.” She set the phone aside as she stood and moved toward the door to great the new guests.

 

Astute people will recognize that not all these women are coven leaders–there are only two, in fact–and there are a two people here who seem a little out of place, namely Ramona and Vicky.  And why is Helena here?  Is she holding down the Guardian fort?  In this last moment of producing this post I suddenly realized:  I should actually model this library, because I want to see the scene–

And this won’t be the last time we visit this location.

Out of the Fire and Into the Flames

Before getting into any details, allow me to show you where the novel is after this first day of the new year.  For one, I have reached this milestone for the act:

More than three-quarters of the way to six figures.

More than three-quarters of the way to six figures.

With the nearly thousand words added to this new scene last night, the act just made it over the seventy-nine thousand mark, and I should be close to eighty by tonight.  I’m going to say that being close, or at, eight-five thousand words by the end of this chapter isn’t out of the question, and the four remaining chapters would pretty much guaranty I edge over one hundred thousand words for this part before the final words are typed.

Which brings me to “Where am I with the novel?”

Right here.

Right here.

Three hundred and eight-six thousand and change.  And I’m ready for a change as well.  Trust me, sitting down to crank out what it pretty much five eighty thousand word novels has been an experience.

But what sort of experience are we having at my school?  Glad you asked.

It’s Beltane, or more importantly, it’s eleven PM on 30 April, and the school is getting ready to light the big bonfires.  And come to find out, a certain headmistress really gets into this celebration:

 

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

Of the festivals held at school, there was no secret that Mathilde enjoyed Beltane the most. Some people said it was because it marked the point where there was only a month of classes left, and she was eager to returned to her husband and daughters. Others said that she loved that it represented the coming of Summer, and even if the weather wasn’t cooperating this year, it wouldn’t be long before she could enjoy throwing on a tank top, shorts, and sandals, and go for a walk and be alone with her thoughts.

The real reason was far more vain, however. Blodeuwedd Cover was responsible for setting up the Beltane festival, and when she was a student and member of Blodeuwedd, she always threw herself into event planning. Within the coven itself the celebration was known as the “Headmistress’ Festival,” as the school’s first headmistress, Rhiannon Fettle, was also the founder of Blodeuwedd, and she helped establish many of the school’s traditions current traditions.

Three hundred and twenty-eight years later—and for the tenth time since becoming headmistress—Mathilde ascended the elevated podium that allowed her to see every member of the school—the students and faculty—and begin the festival with perhaps the most important of all the Beltane traditions. “Good evening, everyone.” She scanned the group of students standing before her and smiled. “Beltane is a wonderful time: it marks the beginning of summer, and it marks the beginning of the final month of classes. It is a day indicative of change and renewal—and this represents is the same for out students. Our E Levels graduate in a few weeks, and will head out for their year of Life Experience Travels. All others will return home, leaving another level behind with the anticipation of returning for a new one in a few months.

“But that change begins here, this evening. As it has been for over three hundred years, in the hour before midnight on the last day of April, the two huge bonfires erected here in Selena’s Meadow are set ablaze. One represents what we are leaving behind; the other represents the changes that wait for us ahead. These will burn until midnight tomorrow night, and will serve as a focal point for our celebrations.

“As Beltane represents approaching change, it has been the school’s tradition to select two students to light the bonfires using magic. And as this celebration also represents improvement of our selves, we chose two students who did not come to us proficient in magic, but who have come to Salem as new students, and have spent the months and years developing and improving their skills.”

She turned around and nodded at the instructor standing near the podium stairs. “I will now have Wednesday Douglas come forward and announce whom she has selected for the honor of starting our Beltane celebration.”

 

In another story–well, okay, novel–I wrote about Salem, you discover that Mathilde was actually suggested to run the school by one of the instructors, that person being Jessica.  You have to wonder if she, or any other student, ever sat in their room at night and thought, “I wonder if I’ll ever run this place?  I’d love that.”  And with Mathilde coming from the same coven as the first headmistress, you could see how presiding over this event makes her feel especially proud.

Now Wends is getting up there, and she has two students picked out to light the fires.  And . . . any guess who they are?  Any one?

 

Wednesday joined Mathilde upon the podium and stepped into the speaking field. “Thank you, Headmistress.” She turned to face the gathered masses. “As the Spellmistress here, I am responsible for finding the school’s youngest witches who not only know the Fireball spell, but have the ability to control it with expertise and dexterity. And I have found those students . . .”

A tablet appeared before her, floating within arm’s length. She grabbed it and pulled up the information waiting. “This year, the honor of lighting the Beltane bonfires fall to Annie Kirilova and Kerry Malibey, both A Levels of Cernunnos Cover.” Wednesday pointed towards the crowd and motioned to two marked out areas about fifteen meters from the bonfire locations. “Children, will you take your positions and do us the pleasure of lighting the Beltane fires.”

 

Now, wait:  they’re going to throw fireballs?  We know Annie can do that with Cold Fire, but Kerry?  Nope, not in his repertoire.  Then again, Wednesday did say Fireball spell, which isn’t Cold Fire.  So . . .

 

Annie and Kerry stepped out of the crowd and headed for the partitioned areas. People noticed right away that they brought their normal habit by Kerry going to the left area, and Annie going to the right, but Wednesday and a few other instructors knew that they did this to keep their dominate hands away from the others.

As if on cue they held their hands before them and pretended to shape a sphere. A few seconds later a tiny dot of energy appeared in the middle and began growing. In less that ten seconds both children kept suspended before them a ball of glowing orange fire about a third of a meter across, which they then turned over and held hovering above the palm of their dominate hands.

They held the fireballs over their heads for a few moments as each fireball grew a little, both in size and brightness. They held them overhead, then turned their heads towards each other before drawing back and throwing them in the direction of the tremendous piles of wood. The fireballs arced through the air, growing larger as they neared their target: by the time their struck they were more than a meter in diameter. They splashed across the surface and burrowed into each pile, setting them alight and bringing them to full burn in just under twenty seconds.

Wednesday didn’t hear the scattered applauds from the students: she kept her eyes on her two special students, watching them carefully. They met each other and hugged before milling with everyone else—many of whom gave them wide berth as the disappeared into the fold. She turned and headed down the podium stairs to the meadow, where she knew she was about to be accosted by the coven leaders, and a few other instructors, wanting to know how and where Salem’s most well-known A Levels learned a Fireball spell . . .

 

Yeah, wait:  only nine days before they were in a throw-down with bad guys and gals, and not was Fireball was cast.  So what gives?  Were they holding out?  Perhaps they didn’t want to burn the place down and just kept quiet?  Or . . . was something else involved?

I guess if I write the rest of the scene tonight, you’ll find out tomorrow.

Out Time, With Friends

It’s been a busy day, and it’ll be an even busier one tomorrow.  I’ll be up at six and on the road not long after that.  Then it’s off to points south for an early morning meeting with someone I know from Facebook.  After that it’s going to be lunch and shopping, hanging out, doing girl things, and then a two-hour drive back home.

That’s why I’m writing this post at 11:45 PM on Saturday night, after spending a few hours with friends over a light dinner and a lot of talk.  Like I said, it’s been a busy day.

Did I mention the writing?

Between breakfast and a little shopping and taking a nap and going out, I managed five hundred and fifty-five words on the last scene.  That did this for Act Two:

About two hundred and fifty words away from six figures.

About two hundred and fifty words away from six figures.

And that leads to this:

And I'm onto a quarter here.

And I’m onto a quarter here.

This means by the time I get to the end of Act Two, I’ll have two full novels ready to go–with a little editing, of course–and another novel to go.  Do I feel tired?  Yeah, but I’m still going.

At this point in the story Erywin and Wednesday have come together.  Wends tells her friend what she’s going, and it goes from there . . . to the end of the scene.

 

 

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

This question brought forth a chuckle from Erywin. “You were hoping I’d show up.”

“I was betting on it.” Wednesday looked around as if she though they were being watched. “After Maddie, no one likes killing Deconstructors more than you. And with the comms down it’s hard for Vicky to keep an eye on you.”

“You know me all too well.” She held the tablet out for Wednesday to see. “Which ones do you want me to do?”

Wednesday pointed to the nodes she’d identified earlier on the south and east sides. “Those three will do the trick. Isis is watching the nodes, so the moment she sees energy getting dumped into one, she’ll start the charge up on her end.”

“Got it.”

“Take the bag.” Wednesday slipped it off her body. “I know what I need to do, and you can keep the tablet in case you need a reference.”

Erywin placed the tablet back into the bag, then set it upon the wall. “Thanks, but I’ve already a lot strapped on.” She patted her rifle. “Don’t need any more encumbrance.”

“Right.” Wednesday waited until Erywin was back on her broom before speaking again. “Have you seen any Deconstructors? Or . . . Abominations?”

“Yeah.” Erywin readied her rifle. “Not so many Deconstructors, but a few of us spotted the Abominations right away. I put down two.” She eyed Wednesday. “Any idea how many broke through?”

“Isis did a quick check of the data right after the breach. She figured maybe fifty Abominations and perhaps twenty or thirty Deconstructors.” She shrugged. “Maybe. Everything happened quickly, and her first priority was to figure out what was down—” Wednesday nodded at the node. “—and what was needed to get that back on-line.”

“Right.” Erywin brought up her HUD and gave it a quick check. “17:35. Local sunset is in a minute.” She turned and smirked. “I remember that from when I spoke with Harpreet this morning—for some damn reason . . .” She rose off the wall and eased out over the grounds before rocketing off to the southeast.

“Local sunset, huh?” Wednesday looked over her shoulder at the defense screen meters away. “Like we need any more darkness.”

 

It’s dark.

It’ll probably get a lot darker.

‘Cause next scene has to do with working up a body count . . .

Out Time, On the Wall

This morning has not started out good.  I woke up late–something I almost never do–and in the middle of getting dressed the fire alarm for the apartment complex goes off.  When this happens the elevators lock down, and I didn’t feel like walking down thirteen flights of stairs to get to my car, which may or may not have been able to leave the garage.  So waited around for a while, making some coffee in the process, and eventually skipped out for some local fast food which I consumed back at the homestead.

And before anyone asks–not that I can actually hear your questions, but I’m thinking maybe someone is asking–I wrote five hundred and five words last night.  Why only that amount?  I was doing my nails before I was writing.  No, seriously.  Check it out:

Coffee and teal nails.  It's almost a good morning.

Coffee and teal nails. It’s almost a good morning.

I’m just short of the main goal of slipping this story in at two hundred and fifty thousand words.  I think I’m–

Yeah, that close.

Yeah, that close.

Like a little over a hundred words.  But, you know:  nails came first last night.  Then I caught something else as well:

Why, I'm about to roll this over into six figures.

Why, I’m about to roll this over into six figures.

Now Act Two is about to trip it one hundred thousand words, which likely means Act Three will get the same treatment.  Oi.  I am wordy, as a certain ex of mine would probably say.

Speaking or wordy, here are a few:

 

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

She hovered above the trees, getting oriented. This close to the wall she didn’t want to make a snap decision and fly up into the screen—while at the same time she didn’t want to get ambushed by a Deconstructor, or worse, an Abomination.

That didn’t happen, however. With just enough light from the waning sun and the low light goggles, Wednesday spotted Sunset Tower instantly and was there moments later, setting down beside it atop the wall.

There were only a few times when she’d found herself this close to the defenses screen when there were at full power, and it was a sensation that left Wednesday in awe of the mystical energy flowing around her. On top of the wall, only meters from the screen, Wednesday stared into near perfect pitch blackness. Here at the junction of Sunset Tower made an eighty degree turn, enveloping her within a Stygian canopy that stretched to her left and right and for at least a hundred meters above her head.

She wasn’t there to stare at the screens, however. Wednesday carefully moved to a spot near the base of the tower where the walls intersected. She held out her hands and spoke a incantation just under the breath . . .

The floor became translucent then turned invisible. Some five meters below where Wednesday stood the main detection node lay, a three meter wide ball of ghostly, slithering energy, and the smaller communications node sitting alongside. Normally when both grids were operational they glowed a bright yellow almost too brilliant to gaze upon. Now it was dormant, nothing more than bands of mystical energy holding together a singularity ready to receive energy.

 

There is a little of the outer workings of the school–and more of the fear of these Abominations.  Don’t worry:  just like Chekhov’s Gun, once it’s mentioned, you have to show one.

And like Wednesday thought, she’s not alone . . .

 

Wednesday positioned her right hand above the node and willed power through her body and down her arm. Though she couldn’t see the flow of power arc from her hand to the node, she watch that energy play upon the surface of the node before sinking below the interface—

The node began to glow slightly, then quickly increased in brightness as the Security Center back in the Great Hall began transferring power to this node. It flashed for a moment, then settled into a constant, nonfluctuating softness.

It was taking the energy and storing. The node was coming back to life.

Seconds later Wednesday cause movement out of the corner of here eye. Right on time. She was expecting company, and she was pretty certain she knew her welcoming committee . . .

She raised her left hand in the direction of the approaching party and shouted as loud as possible. “Leela, it’s Shadowcat. Don’t fire.”

Erywin halted here broom about six meters from Wednesday’s position, her large, science fiction-looking weapon leveled and ready to fire. She slowly slid the weapon to her side and let it rest on the sling around her body as she eased her broom towards the wall. “I was about to kill you.”

“I knew you would.” Wednesday giggled. “I also knew it would be you who’d show up; that’s why I yelled your call sign.”

 

And there I leave both women, atop the wall next to Sunset Tower.  If I’m lucky, I’ll get to finish this scene tomorrow–

It’s strange, though.  I’ve done five hundred words a night for the last three nights, and before that I did fifteen hundred.  Even though it sounds like slacking, it’s not.  That’s three thousand words in four days, and I’ll likely hit another five hundred tonight.  Yeah, not a bad haul.

Not bad at all

Out Time, Getting Out

It wasn’t just out time for one of my characters.  Oh, no.  It was out time for me as well.  There was things to do, polish to buy, and I was in dire need of something to eat.  I also needed to pay rent . . . damn, a girl’s life is never ending?

I found myself getting asked for advice on writing and on fonts last night, too, which took up some time to walk through on social media.  It’s funny how you get sucked into that, but it happens.  And when someone is asking about writing, I’m going to try and help best I can.  I don’t have all the answers, but I do want to help where I can.

By the time I was getting around to writing there wasn’t a lot of time, so I buzzed through five hundred words on the nose–I know ’cause I checked as I saved.  I might have written more, but . . . another scene for this story popped into my head while I was taking a break at the end of the five hundred, and figured out the hook needed to get something going that, to me, is a bit of a dramatic moment for Annie and Kerry, and really helps define their story a little more.

Naturally you won’t see that scene until Act Three, just hang tight, people.  I’m just gonna GRRM you for that.

Meanwhile, in the tunnels with Wednesday.

 

 

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

Wednesday rocketed down the tunnel, reaching the north end of The Chunnel quickly. She pulled a quick left, then found the westward tunnel she wanted twenty meters away. She turned hard to the right and picked up speed as she continued onward to Sunset Tower.

“Fortress, this is Shadowcat.” She didn’t wait for Isis to acknowledge her call, figuring her friend would listen no matter what. “If I find Erywin out there, you’ll know she’s helping when you see the nodes being charged. The moment you see them start glowing green, begin charging them on your side. Over.”

“We got that, Shadowcat.” Wednesday sensed how difficult it was for Isis to keep her voice calm and level. “We’er watching you from our end. Over.”

“Understood, Fortress.” I hate to do this to her, but we can’t wait time getting our system on line. Wednesday speed through the four way junction that connected to a tunnel heading north and south from the Firing Line to the Aerodrome. She knew she didn’t have to travel much further before reaching the end of this line . . .

“Fortress, I’m not going through Sunset Tower itself.” Wednesday saw the Y split up ahead, maybe sixty, seventy meters in the distance. “I’m going out through the ground entrance.”

“Shadowcat, Fortress. We got that.” There was another hitch in Isis’ voice. “It would be too difficult to shut off the shielding at Sunset anyway. Over.”

“Yeah, got that . . .” She slowed slightly before reaching the junction. “Turning—now.” Wednesday glided the broom into the left-hand corridor and picked up speed slowly. “I’m gonna need about five seconds to fly up the staircase. Over.”

“We copy that, Shadowcat.” There was a second or two of silence on the comm; when Isis spoke again her voice was filled with emotion. “You be careful out there, Wends. Okay?”

“You got it, Goddess.” She smiled to herself as she approached the entrance to the staircase leading to ground level. “I’m comin’ back, don’t worry . . .”

She stopped before the sealed off staircase. “Okay, Fortress, I’m here. Cut the shielding.”

Three seconds later Isis was yelling into the comm. “Go, go, GO.”

Wednesday phased through the wall and flew straight up through the variously layers of stone and iron that made up the sealed, caisson-like staircase tower. She always found it fascinating to flew through a long stretch like this, where she could see all the different kinds of materials used to manufacture a structure. She could have easily flown through the roof of the any part of the tunnel and phased though ten or twelve meters of rock and soil, but there was always the question of what she was going to have to phase through once she was on the surface. She’d once done that and ended up phasing through a group of students . . .

The illuminated staircase was replaced by nearly complete darkness and the soft red glow of the outer defense screen. She was into open air—

Wednesday was outside.

 

Outside and ready to do the charging thing.  Oh, and probably this as well . . .

I've almost reached this point--

I’ve almost reached this point–

I’m a little over six hundred words short of a quarter of a million words.  It should happen tonight, between getting dinner ready and doing my nails.  I will finish Out, and that will be that, and then it’s on to Tally and the rest.

Hard to believe I’m half-way through this chapter.

Out Time, Going Out

Strange times yesterday, so strange that it’s almost a story in of itself.  Needless to say writer was done last night, but it wasn’t as much as I’ve usually pulled off on a Wednesday night.

But writing was pulled off.  That’s better than none.

Right now I’ve got Wednesday in the tunnels, heading for the outer wall of the school.  “But isn’t everything sealed up?” you ask.  Why, yes it is, but like that’s going to stop Wends from trying to get out.

Let’s see then–

 

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

17:21 to 17:36

She shot down the corridor, keeping her attention focused on the area ahead. She quickly passed the main tunnel leading to Cernunnos Tower; with Security Level Three in place, the entire base of the tower was sealed off, not just the passage way leading to the Instructor’s Residence—the same tunnel many students also used during the hardest part of winter to reach the Transformation and Formulistic Magic buildings.

No, there was a second tunnel, an older one that at one time was the only way to the Transformation Center, and which lead to cut over tunnels to Chemistry Hall and the Residence, the one that formed the northern terminus for The Chunnel. Wednesday wanted this one because it was a straight shot through the Pentagram Walls and to the main school grounds.

It was her way out.

 

Now, over a year ago, when I started putting this thing together, I was diligent about putting together a three-dimensional map of the Salem Institute.  I mean, we all pretty much know what it looks like from the air–

As it is above . . .

As it is above . . .

This is a good shot of where the action is taking place.  The Great Hall and The Pentagram are in the upper right hand corner.  The Instructor’s Residence is near the middle, and the two smaller buildings–which aren’t that small–are the Transformation Center directly to the right, and the Chemistry Hall above that.  Sunset Tower, which is Wednesday’s destination, is location in the lower left-hand corner.  And when you look at this picture, you’ll see something like a mini-tower about an inch to the right of Sunset, just above the frame of the picture.  That’s actually where Wednesday will come out.

And how is she getting there?

So it is below.

So it is below.

Tunnels.

This is the layout of where the action is.  In the lower right-hand corner is The lower levels of the Great Hall, with Åsgårdsreia Tower at the bottom most point of The Pentagram.  The tunnel Wednesday is looking for is the one that bisects the Pentagram Wall between Cernunnos Tower (that’s the left-most one in The Pentagram) and Ceridwen Tower (which is to the right, closest to the tunnel heading towards the top of the frame).  The Chunnel is the big tunnel leading just just above Cernunnos to the upper right-hand point of the picture, and Sunset Tower is the large round point all the way over to the left.  Keep in mind here, north is down and south is up, because we’re looking at this from below and from the south.

That’s where we are now, and that’s where Wednesday is headed for the Pentagram Wall.

 

She was just slowing to make the turn into the tunnel when her comm activated and Isis’ voice rang clear. “Shadowcat, Shadowcat, this is Fortress. Comm check, respond. Over.”

Hearing her old call sign brought a smile to Wednesday’s face. “Fortress, this is Shadowcat. Read you five-by-five. Over.”

“Great. We see you coming up on the Pentagram Wall. You about ready for us to unseal the passageway? Over.”

Wednesday was estimating her speed in her head, and figured she’d be on the sealed passage barrier in about five second. “I’m almost on top of it. Unseal now.” She didn’t bother with the “over”; she knew Isis would figure out she was getting ready to play her phasing game—

 

Isn’t the Pentagram Wall all sealed off?  Yes, it is.  But there are shields on the doors and tunnel entrances as well.  And Isis would never open those and violate her own security protocols, right?  Well, with Wednesday, there isn’t a real need to do anything but pull down the mystical energy barrier surrounding the physical door.  And she only need do that for a second . . .

 

Near the end of her A Level Wednesday figured out how to use Phase Magic, the ability to pull one object or objects through solid material. It was a common spell used by Coraline and all her nurses for undressing patients; all they had to do was grab the article the wanted to remove and pull it through the patient’s body.

But Wednesday’s magical ability went far beyond that. It didn’t take long—within the first month of her B Levels—that her instructors discovered she could phase herself through just about anything and anyone at will. Testing later reveled that she possessed a slight Gift that allowed her to perform Phase Magic easier and phase her body through nearly everything . . .

And when you can phase yourself through anything solid . . . Wednesday looked straight at the approaching tunnel closure and concentrated. It’s only natural you’re gonna get Kitty Pryde’s codename . . .

She passed through the thick door and continued on through into the tunnel on the other side of the Pentagram Wall. “Fortress, this is Shadowcat. Seal it up. Over.”

 

Now we know how Wednesday got her call sign–

 

Lockheed is totally not impressed you took his squeeze's name.

Though Lockheed is totally not impressed you took his squeeze’s name.

And we see how Phase Magic works, because it seems like those nurses just pulling clothes off without any tearing or ripping.  You could say, up to now, that what they did was . . . magic.

Tonight Wednesday gets all the way out–she’ll be out of the tunnels and into the grounds, and that will be interesting because there are a few things are going to be mentioned that just builds further upon the world I’ve created.  It probably won’t make any sense, but don’t worry–

It does to me.

Fortress Time, Part Deux

Did I not say I was going to bring you Part Two of this?  Did I not?  Are you not entertained?

Yes, it was writing night last night, and I was in the grove.  Didn’t do word checks, didn’t let too many distractions get at me.  Just stuck to what I knew I had to do and wrote.  I wrote so well that I stopped just short of fifteen hundred words, which is a good night any night of the week.  Since it’s Wednesday night tonight, I hope to do as well while I’m out.

And speaking of Wednesday, she pops up in this excerpt along with Isis.  The two of them, once more working together to help protect the school.  They did it once before, in 2000, back during a little slice of hell known as The Scouring, but they were students then–and those actions are one of the reasons they’re at the school today.  That, and the fact they’re among the best in the world at what they do.  That goes without saying.

Let’s pick up where I left off, with Isis trying to get the detection and communications grids back on line:

 

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

On the three dimensional map of the grounds the thirteen nodes that powered the detection grid appeared. Five of the nods—all of them in the north and northwest sections of the outer wall—were green; the other eight in the central and southern area were yellow. Isis half turned towards Suhaila. “Show me the grid.”

The northern section of the school—mostly from the Observatory Tower and points nothing—appeared green. Everywhere else, save the interior of the Pentagram Walls, was red. Wednesday—who’d been silent up to this point—stood next to Isis. “Are the nodes damaged?”

“Let’s find out.” She pointed at the display. “Ping Sunset.”

Suhaila typed something in on her keyboard and touched her screen. Isis and Wednesday saw the node embedded in Sunset Tower flash green for a moment before returning to yellow. She turned to her chief. “It’s responding.”

“Yeah, I see that.” Isis spoke to Wednesday while continuing to stare at the display. “You think it’s drained?”

“Has to be.” She turned to Isis, who slowly turned to face the little witch. “Those were drain spells that detonated, so it stands that they were sucked dry.”

“Doesn’t explain the comm nodes, though.”

“Yeah, it does. The drain must have been so massive that the interlink between the two nodes never had a chance to shut down to save the comm nodes, and they were drained as well.” She glanced at the display and shrugged. “We have to fix that.”

“Yeah, I’ll put it on our ‘to-do’ list.” Isis pushed the school display away before facing Tamera and Suhaila. “Okay, start charging them up. We gotta get them back on line as quickly as possible.”

 

Magical nodes full of energy–only they aren’t not.  Damn those drain detonations.  Charging them up requires pushing mystical energy from the Master Node under the Great Hall into the separate nodes.  Only Wednesday notes that it’s going to take four hours to charge them up, and . . .

 

“We don’t have four hour; we’ve gotta start clearing the grounds now.” She pointed at the display. “Besides, you only need six of those eight operating at eighty person to bring that grid up—” Wednesday was well aware of these figures because of the time she’d spent helping redesign the system. “These three then . . .” She indicated three nodes along the west outer wall. “And these.” She indicated three on the south and east outer walls.

Isis already had the numbers figured for those as well. “That’s still going to take three hours.”

“Yeah, if you do them all at one.” Wednesday stepped around Isis and stood behind Suhaila. “You can start quick charging one node at a time—”

“Which still takes twenty to twenty-five minutes per node.” Isis didn’t want to dash Wednesday’s hopes, but there really wasn’t much of a way they could have an operational detection grid in under two and a half hours. “No matter what it’s gonna take time.”

“Not if you have help.” Wednesday faced Isis, her face set in stone. “If I go out there and help pump energy into the nodes while you’re charging them—”

“No.”

“—we could cut the time—”

No.”

“—to ten or twelve minutes.”

NO.”

If there was one word Wednesday detested, it was “no”. She didn’t accept it from her students, and she didn’t accept it from her colleagues. Which meant she damn well  wouldn’t accept it from her closest friend . . . She cocked a finger in Isis’ direction. “You and I need to talk.”

 

Wednesday may be small–at five foot she is sometimes mistaken for a student–and Isis . . . well, she stands about five foot ten in her bare feet, and most of the time when she’s working she’s in heels, so she’s taller than her friend.  And in this case, she’s mad enough to go potty mouth to get her point across . . .

 

The little witch wasn’t about to let Isis take control of the conversation, and instantly let her know her feelings. “Are you out of your fucking mind?”

Isis was taken back by her friend’s outburst. She’d seen Wednesday angry before, but she’d never seen it directed at her. “Hey, I’m doing my job.”

“If you were then you’d know I’m right.” She crossed her arms. “I helped you with the design of this system: you can’t bullshit me about what can and can’t be done.” Wednesday jabbed a finger at Isis as raised her voice. “And you know I’m right about this. You know if I’m out there helping you power up those nodes—”

It was Isis turn to get loud as well. “There are Deconstructors and Abominations out there—”

Wednesday wasn’t listening. “If I’m helping you power up those nodes, we can have the detection grid up in sixty to seventy-five minutes.”

“We can’t track anything beyond The Pentagram.”

I know: that’s why you need my help.”

 

And there’s a word we’re hearing for the first time:  Abominations.  As you can imagine, they’re a nasty piece of work.  And since one of my scenes is titled Abomination . . . yeah, you can put it together, can’t you?

Now that Wednesday is beating up her friend, it’s time for her to stick in the knife and twist . . .

 

“Tell me: what is your duty to this school?”

Isis stopped cold and had to think about what her friend was asking. The simple one was too easy to say—“I’m the Chief of Security”—and that wasn’t the answer Wednesday wanted anyway. No, I know what she wants to hear . . . She answered in a low voice. “To protect the students, the staff, and the grounds.”

“And were don’t know what’s going on out on the grounds, so you need to protect the students and the staff.” Wednesday nodded slowly. “To do that you need that grid up and running—yeah?”

Isis stared at her toes. “Yeah.”

“Honey, look at me.” Wednesday waited until they were looking at each other eye-to-eye. “I’m working with you in Security, and right now that makes me as expendable as any of the people out on the outer grounds waiting for detection and communications.” She laid a hand against Isis’. “You know I’m right.”

As much as Isis didn’t want to say the words, she knew Wednesday wouldn’t let her get away without an acknowledgment. “I know.”

Wednesday didn’t waste time with anymore words. “Okay, then. I need a helmet, goggles, a broom, a tablet, and a messenger bag for the table.” She headed for the supply rack. “Come on, my Goddess: get you ass in gear.”

 

When you need to make your point, you have to tell people, even your best friends, that you can’t treat them special.  When you know you have to do something, even if it’s dangerous, you gotta do it.  Even if it means you might die in the process.  And Wends is playing the “Needs of the Many” card to get her point across.

Which leads to this . . .

 

The two women stared at each other in uncomfortable silence for almost five seconds. Wednesday was ready to go, but Isis appeared to need to say more. “Wends, be careful.”

Another few seconds passed with neither woman saying anything—then Wednesday stood on tip-toes and kissed Isis on the cheek. “I’m coming back—” She hesitated before choking out the last part of her statement. “I’m not Cleo.”

Isis’ breath caught in her chest for a moment as the name of their dear friend, one who Wednesday had seen die the night of the Scouring, was uttered. Isis held back the tears she knew were lurking behind her eyes. “You better come back, or . . .” She sniffed hard once. “I’ll have Adric teach me Necromancy just so I can call your ass back and tell you off.”

“Sounds like something you’d do.” Wednesday headed out of the Bunker but didn’t open the door to the Upper Transept. “You need to be in the Security Center before I can leave.” She winked. “Protocols—remember?”

“I should: I wrote the damn things.” She patted her friend’s shoulder as she keyed open the Security Center entrance. “Let the Owls guild your way.”

“They always do.” She nodded at the door. “Get inside and do your job.”

Isis nodded, then hurried through and sealed the Center door behind her. Wednesday quickly exited the Security Area and didn’t waste time in the Upper Transept. She tossed the broom into the air and let it settle into a hover as she slipped the messenger bag with the tablet around her body. She slid up into the broom saddle as she adjusted her goggles, then zipped her jacket up the rest of the way and rocketed out into the Rotunda—

 

The next scene, Out, is a Wednesday scene, and you can probably guess where it’s leading.

Probably to topping one hundred thousand words for this Act.  But I could be wrong.

Probably to topping one hundred thousand words for this Act. But I could be wrong.

Talks Among the Ins and Outs

The new day is here, and there is a feeling of getting things done today.  Don’t know why–maybe I just woke up in a good mood.  It’s always a plus to have that happen.

But there was also writing last night.  Lots of writing.  You want proof?  Here:

See?  I wouldn't lie.  Much.

See? I wouldn’t lie. Much.

Almost twelve hundred words to finish up the last scene in Chapter Twenty-One.  Not only that, but the novel is over ninety thousand words, and I’m creeping up on another milestone here, which I’ll discuss in a moment.

But first, the writing . . .

There’s a five-way conversation going on in this scene.  Isis and Wednesday in the Security Center, Ramona Chai and Fitzsimon Spratt, the Practical Super Science instructor, on the ground at the scene of the break-in, speaking through a couple of magical floating cameras/monitors, and the Headmistress in her lair in Sanctuary.  Question of the hour is:  how did they break in?  Answer . . .

 

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

The Headmistress glared at all through the video display. “You have an explanation for what happened, Isis?”

“I do.” She’d seen this demeanor many times before: she called it the “Mean Headmistress Look” and it only appeared when the Mathilde didn’t want to leave any doubt as to who was in control of the conversation.

“And?”

“The computer analysis shows the Deconstructors threw a number of people as a small spot on the screen, one right after another, in an attempt to hammer through a breach.”

“When you mean ‘one right after another’—”

“I mean they teleported people into the same spot on the screen in a matter of about ten second. As soon as one person hit the screen, another was right behind them, doing the same.” She turned and indicated Wednesday. “Wends has looked at the data as well, and agrees with that analysis.”

On the Monitor Two Fitzsimon—who was sending and receiving images from a Spy-Eye, one of several that the Rapid Response kept on hand for this sort of thing—raised his hand. “If I may something, Headmistress.”

Mathilde softened her glare a little. “Go ahead, Fitz.”

“Ramona and I have had a chance to examine both bodies.” The Self Defense and Weapons Instructor nodded from Monitor Three, watching and recording about six meters from Fitzsimon. “It looks like the body I’m standing over—the one that wasn’t retrieved by our stone friends—”

Isis spoke up. “That would be Gahooley.”

This gave the opportunity for the Headmistress to sigh loud enough for all to hear. “Is it actually necessary to give all the gargoyles names?”

“I find it necessary.”

 

Leave it to Isis to name “her” gargoyles.  And should we ask how it is she’s come into command of gargoyles in the walls, because if she’s giving one a name, there are probably more out there.  In a way it’s kind of scary.

But they get back to the matte at hand:

 

“Thank you.” He glanced at the body lying on the ground but didn’t kneel, knowing the Spy-Eye would follow if he did. “Of the two who made it through, this one appears in the worst shape: burnt by the energies in the screen, and missing part of his right arm.”

“He’s the one that was DOA coming through.” Isis wanted the Headmistress to know that even with a breach, the effort wasn’t a complete success.

“Yes. But . . .” Fitzsimon’s turned back to the camera. “He was wearing a device, and it’s obvious it was imbued with an enchantment.”

This was of interest to both the Headmistress and Wednesday, though the Mathilde was the first to speak. “What sort of enchantment?”

“It’s difficult to say right now; there’s only the lingering presence of an enchantment.” Fitzsimon shrugged. “Isis, Wednesday: did you see anything in your data that indicated a drain spell was used?”

Wednesday was slow to respond, as if she was going over what she’d viewed from the computers trying to see if she missed a key bit of evidence. “I didn’t see anything that stood out as a drain spell, but . . .” She turned to Isis and shrugged. “If they were throwing themselves against the screen trying to hammer it down, the energy flares could have covered it up. Particularly if it wasn’t a large spell.”

“It wouldn’t have to be large. If it was formed correctly, it’d end up being like a shape charge.”

“Yeah.” Isis shrugged. “But you couldn’t use a lot of them; too much of a chance you’d waste them before you hit the screen.”

Fitzsimon nodded. “Absolutely correct.”

 

There you see magic being used for practical effects–magical shape charges, if you will.  And now coming the whys and wherefores of how they got in, plus a little digging from the Headmistress.

 

The Headmistress wanted to get back to the point which originally brought this conversation together. “What I see here is the outer screens were breached and intruders entered the grounds. Isis, you said this wasn’t possible.”

“Headmistress, I said the screens as they are now would make nearly impossible to get into the grounds—” She wasn’t about the let Mathilde put words in her mouth and then hold her to something that was never said. “There is no such thing as a perfect defense, and I’ve said this more than once, if you’ll recall.”

“What does this mean, then?” Mathilde didn’t want more bad news.

“It means the Deconstructors have noticed a weakness and tested it to see if it was viable.” She pointed at a spot on the hologram of the school grounds behind her. “The entered near The Narrows, so my guess is someone was over in the observation tower in Halibut Point trying to see how it all played out.”

 

Is there really an observation tower over at Halibut Point State Park, at the northern most point of Cape Ann?  Do you really have to ask?

 

“Which means they know they can get in—”

“Maybe.” Isis shook her head. “They’ll also know it’s not worth their time.”

“Explain.”

Isis was glad she’d taken the time to memorize the data before having this conversation. “The data indicates thirty-three people hit the screen in the same place trying to hammer it down. Two made it through, and one of those was dead on arrival.” She looked up at Monitor Three. “Ramona, the guy who made it through alive—how was he when you got there?”

“Once your—” She was loath to the name given to the gargoyle by Isis. “—’pet’ returned the individual, he remained alive about fifteen seconds. And he wasn’t in much better shape than the individual Fritz is standing over.”

Mathilde didn’t bother hiding her surprise. “He died?”

“Yes.”

“What if you’d arrived before the gargoyle had gotten to him? Would you consider him a threat?”

Ramona looked off to the side for about five seconds before staring back into the Spy-Eye. “No, Headmistress. Given the extend of his injuries, any one of the Rapid Response team could have handled him without requiring magic. He wasn’t in any shape to put up a fight.” She glanced in the direction of the wall. “I believe he would have died, gargoyle or not.”

 

Gargoyle or not, you’re gonna die.  It’s all a matter when you’re trying to bust into the school of if you want to die sooner, or later.

What is the response to this?  Isis isn’t too worried, and Wednesday, the Second Witch in the Security Center, has got her ideas down:

 

“And we could act against them instantly.” Isis felt she’d covered all her points and was ready to move on to the end of this conference. “The one good thing to come out of this is Wends thinks she can modify the existing enchantment to make the screens harder to breach.”

With this news Mathilde no longer felt the need to seem the stern administrator. “What will you do?”

“I can make a slight adjustment to the enchantment so that if it detects as massive pin-point assault against a single area, more energy will get rushed to that spot.”

“How long will this take?”

“I’ll need about ninety minutes to work up the spell and test it. After that I just need to go down to the master node and rework the enchantment—that’ll take five minutes, no more.” Wednesday smile was friendly and relaxed. “Easy peasy.”

 

Just as long as you didn’t say “okely dokely”.  That might have been too much.

The high point too all this is I’m heading into Chapter Twenty-Two, where things get bad.  That’s where this second graphic comes into play:

Just look at the numbers, Lizzy.  Look at the number . . .

Just look at the numbers, Lizzy. Look at the number.

I’ve come within striking distance of 241,450 thousand word.  The longest thing I’ve ever written, Transporting, topped out at around 245,000 words.  That means sometime during Chapter Twenty-Two I’m not only going to pass that novel, but I’ll hit a quarter of a million words.

More importantly, the end of this Act is in sight.

Then . . . we’ll see.