Beyond the Curtain: Getting It All Out

The weekend is almost here and so are all the summer shows I’m gonna have to start working on next week.  Netflix reminded me this morning that next Friday I can come home from work and spend the next ten hours binging Sense8, which is something I might just do.  Because why not?

Now, back at the school the kids are making their way to Memory’s End, where revelations await:

 

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

 

On the walk to Memory’s End Kerry said little, and when he did speak it was not about the day’s instruction. It was only once they were inside the building and heading for the stairs to the first floor that he finally brought up what awaited. “Are you worried about me?”

Annie didn’t see a point in avoiding a direct conversation on the matter. “You’ve seemed somewhat anxious since learning what we’re doing today.”

“I was, but…” Kerry stopped them both before heading up the stairs. “I’m not scared. If anything, I’m excited about this. It’s just that I recognize this could be one of the most dangerous things we’re going to do this year, and I can’t help but think of all the possible things that could go wrong.”

“That I can understand.” She was keenly aware that Kerry was the sort of person who often anticipated the worst of a new situation. “How are you feeling now?”

“Eager to go. Really, when I mean I think of the worst that could happen, I don’t believe anything’s going to happen to us today. But, I’m certain Deanna’s going to tell us everything that can go wrong once we start visiting the Astral Realm on our own.”

From everything that Annie had read in the past she understood that the Astral Realm possessed dangers unique to that world. There were spirits and wraiths that sought out anything that wasn’t part of their world, and witches had noticed and documented weather-like phenomenon in the Realm that were terrifying and dangerous.

She knew Kerry was correct: Deanna was preparing them for when they were ready to enter the Realm on their own. At the same time, however, she was certain that the Astral Realm within the walls of Salem was a benign region, and she couldn’t imagine it being a dangerous place.

Then again, there were other things within the walls of Salem that one needed to watch for—

They bounded up the stairs and headed directly for the study room. Deanna was waiting for them, standing in the middle of the room smiling as if she had anticipated they were going to walk through the door that very moment. And he smiled back. “Good afternoon, Deanna.”

Kerry waved. “How’s it going?”

The seer approach them. “Good afternoon. And to answer your question, I am doing well.” She waved the door shut and rubbed her hands together. “I imagine your eager to begin.”

 

Given that they just met with Deanna it’s not gonna be long before they take that first step…

Beyond the Curtain: Pre-Passage Jitters

So…  how was your evening?

First off, I did my video.  It was fun, but as I usually do when it’s over I feel as if I could have done more.  It’s that whole thing that goes hand-in-hand with being creative–you know, everything you do sucks and you want to do better?  I should get out of that habit and will.  One day.

Then I head off with a friend to the Harrisburg chapter of the National Organization for Women and after opening my mouth a couple of times, I end up one-half of their fundraising committee.  This is why I shouldn’t say anything, but I can’t keep my mouth shut.

Came home, watched one episode of Breaking Bad, and the–wrote?  Yep!  Wrote!  Put down about seven hundred words as I began describing what it’s like over by der in the Astral Realm.  And since I’ll be home all night tonight I’ll not only write more about this, but… well, you never know who just might show up.

The thing is, if you got your witchy kids in the Astral Realm, that means they had to of started on this side of The Curtain.  And they did.  I know this because it all starts below–

 

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

 

Being a legacy witch meant there was little that could surprise or shock her, but Annie imagined today would be one of the days where everything she saw and heard was completely new. For today Kerry and she were about to embark on an adventure:

Today they would pass beyond The Curtain and walk in the Astral Realm.

The realization that they were taking this step came at breakfast this morning. They were just sitting down at a little before seven when Deanna came to their table, through upper privacy barrier around them, and said today was the day they would visit the Astral Realm. She refused to answer any questions: she simply said anything that needed to be asked could wait until the afternoon, as she wished to discuss anything concerning today’s exercise in private.

And just as quickly as she approached and gave them the news, she turned and left the Dining Hall.

Annie grew excited right away. Since he had begun her special training with Deanna she had begun preparing herself for anything involving passage beyond The Curtain. She’d read stories and had even seen a few pictures, but they did nothing to dampen her expectation of what would come about in the next few hours. She was on the verge of living a dream that was nearly as important as wanting to become a sorceress and a Guardian.

For his part Kerry seems slightly distracted. When she asked if there was something troubling him, he said he was a bit nervous about entering what was essentially an alien world. He knew there was little to fear for Deanna was skilled in these matters and everything would happen within the confines of the school’s walls, but he still found the prospect of walking into another world just a bit worrisome.

When she reminded him that entry new worlds was something he should be comfortable with given his science fiction fandom background, he agreed, but only with the caveat that he also knew, based upon those same stories, all the things that could go wrong even though they were told everything would be fine.

Though she spent the morning concerned that Kerry’s mind wouldn’t be on flying while Emma, he, and two other fliers from class made a high-speed run to Philadelphia and back, she was pleasantly surprised to find him in a good mood at lunch time. He explained his change of mood as being nothing more than the realization that since everything he had done since arriving at school a little more than two years earlier was new and somewhat alien when compared to Normal studies, why should he get upset about dealing with the situation that was completely alien?

 

There you go:  Annie is a secret Astral junkie and Kerry is just a little worried about stepping into his first alien landscape.  But you know these kids are going there.  How do we know?

I told you up at the start of the excerpt.  Duh.

All Over the Place

I said I would have a video on Sunday, and I am a woman of her word.  And here it is. Enjoy.

And if you want to see the route I walked yesterday, here that is.

A View From Afar: The Watching

As you’re reading this it is highly likely that I am either somewhere on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., or I’m in the city and on my way to the Washington Monument.  Yes, I’m back in the capital getting ready to do my part for the March For Science, and if you have any sort of connection to my Facebook page, you’ll notice that my profile picture is changed to that of Science, Princess Bubblegum’s favorite rat.

Because I’m all about Science.

What you’re reading is the last few hundred words of Part Three of Act One.  And this is the last excerpt you’ll get for a couple of days.  Sunday I’ll be sending you another video, and the odds are pretty good that Monday you get a video as well.  Because I’m all about the videos right now.  Also, and allow me to catch up on some writing and perhaps put fifteen hundred or two thousand words between me and these excerpts.  It’s hard to say.  All I know is, I’m going to keep writing.  Because I have to.

But here, at the end of this last part, we have Deanna doing a little sneaking around.  And why is she doing that?  Because her something she wants to see.  And she wants to see because it’s a special day…

 

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

 

Deanna positioned herself behind the tree and look to the north, where the largest open space on the shore of Lake Lovecraft was situated. The sun was setting but Magic Hour was nearing and everything was taking on a shadowless demeanor. It wasn’t for this reason that she was able to see the two figures standing almost sixty meters away. Since she didn’t want to move closer, she used a bid transformation magic to give herself telescopic vision, which made it seem as if she was standing maybe twenty meters away.

Even without the telescopic vision she immediately knew who was standing in this open space: it was Annie and Kerry. And there was a simple reason for them being here, for today was Annie’s fourteenth birthday, and as Deanna knew they had done last two years, Kerry brought her here so he could give her a birthday present.

As Kerry faced Annie Deanna thought back to their moments this afternoon in class. She didn’t notice Annie wearing anything new, but she was able to tell from scanning Kerry’s aura that he was anxious, which she took to mean he hadn’t given the present. Though she didn’t have much to go over she managed to drag out class out as much as possible, if for no other reason than to make the setting of the gift giving to be far more perfect. She knew she was being a bit mean, but she was also certain that when the moment came for Annie, it would mean far, far more.

She watched Kerry remove his backpack and reach inside one of the pockets to retrieve something. From here the package didn’t look large, but then she was aware that Kerry had never really given Annie anything large except the leather jacket he presented after her last solo flight the previous school year. Given that the package fit easily in one of Kerry’s hands Deanna assumed it was a small present—

And small presents were often the most intimate.

Annie slowly unwrapped the gift revealing a box, then open that to unveil gift inside. Whatever it was, there was enough of a surprise that Deanna detected her momentary recoil. Kerry partially blocked what happened next, but it appeared he helped remove whatever was inside the box and and presented her the actual gift. Though difficult to see, to Deanna it seemed almost as if Annie raised her left hand for a few seconds, then looked down for a moment before wrapping her arms around Kerry’s shoulders and giving him an appreciative and emotional kiss.

Deanna dropped her telescopic vision and stepped away from the tree before turning to her left and making her way back to the path. Though she couldn’t say, she was certain she knew what Kerry had given her, and not because of any guesses made based upon her observation—

She stopped and closed her eyes she took a slow, calming breath. You’re not supposed to think of these things: you’re supposed to make assumptions based upon what you’ve already seen. You’re not even supposed to be here

“And yet, here I am.” Deanna didn’t worry that she was heard, as the only people close to her were sixty meters away and likely busy kissing. She made her way to the path and turned to the south, then spent a few seconds crafting a Far Sight spell and jaunted to the edge of the path just outside the entrance to the Instructor’s Residence.

She went inside and headed directly up the stairs toward her room so that she could prepare first for dinner and then for the Midnight Madness. Once inside her room she leaned against the closed door and spent nearly ten seconds staring at a spot at the joint the ceiling in the wall.

It’s times like this I hate my Sight. Deanna headed to her bed and flopped down on her belly. I know so much about so many and I hate that I can’t warn them of what lay ahead

She rolled onto her side and lay there with her thoughts, much as she had done and she was a student. I hope you enjoy your gift, Annie, and all the happiness it brings you today. And I hope Kerry is also happy that you are so extraordinarily pleased with what he has given you.

For it maybe the last bit of happiness you both share for a while

 

I debated for a long time whether or not to show Annie’s birthday gifting up close and personal as I had before. In the end, I thought I would view it from a different perspective, one outside them.  And Deanna is a good one for that, because it could be several reasons why she’s there.  I mean, it’s not like any of the instructors don’t know that on Friday, 27 September, 2013, Annie turns 14.  And when that happens, Kerry takes her out to the north shore of Lake Lovecraft and gives her a gift.

As strange as it may seem there is a reason I didn’t want the interaction to focus on Kerry giving Annie a gift and having Annie’s reaction to that gift. Rather, I wanted someone to see it from afar.  That’s not to say you won’t get a chance to discover her reaction, it just means you’re not going to see it now.

Yeah, I’m being sneaky that way.

And speaking of sneaky, just wait until you get your next excerpt–

A View From Afar: The Arrival

So it’s that time again: it’s time to say goodbye to a chapter while at the same time saying hello to another.  That’s right, today we reached the last excerpt from Chapter Eleven, while at the same time I managed to start Chapter Twelve last night.  In fact, here’s what it looks like:

Yeah, just look at it, will ya?

That image was taken before he began writing, so you have to trust me when I say there are almost five hundred and fifty words and at first scene now.  Now, if you look at the chapter title–which is over there in the upper right-hand corner–and then look at the scene titles, it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s going on here.  This likely won’t be a long chapter, but there are going to be some interesting things going on.

And speaking of interesting things–which we were–here we get the last scene of Chapter Eleven.  And it starts off with someone we haven’t seen in this chapter–

 

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

 

Deanna Arrakis tidied up the few things lying about in her office and prepared to leave Memory’s End for the day and the week. Normally she was already back in her coven office at this point, but since she’d begun her special classes with Annie and Kerry on Friday afternoons, she’d begun handling all coven business on late Friday mornings—something she discovered the witches of Åsgårdsreia Coven preferred.

She had released Annie and Kerry twenty-five minutes earlier. They’d spent a rather exhaustive afternoon not only going over the specifics of Astral Projection, but today marked the first time or two students attempted to project. She wasn’t surprised that they failed, for they had both experienced difficulty learning how to Dreamwalk and she had expected they would face a similar frustration with Astral Projection.

She was also unsurprised by their frustration. By now Annie and Kerry were used to picking up magic rather easily, though Deanna’s investigations proved that while they might learn advanced magic quicker, it wasn’t always learned on the first attempt. During our first class she’d worn them both against expecting to develop their Astral Disciplines quickly, and while they had listened they apparently had not heard her words properly.

She gave them another warning that what they were learning in this class could come to them slowly, while at the same time she thought this would push them both, particularly Annie, to explore these disciplines on their own. While she had given them another warning against such an endeavor, Deanna didn’t need Sight to understand that she was very likely speaking upon deaf ears.

She walked out of her office, closing the door behind her, and headed for the main entrance. Memory’s End was deserted as usual, which didn’t bother her in the least. Divination was a difficult magical talent, one that couldn’t be learned unless one already had some sight, and the only time this building had more than a handful of students was when she taught any class concerning Astral Disciplines. From Deanna’s perspective, she would rather spend her time with a handful of students she knew would master these disciplines then wasted with students who wouldn’t develop even the most rudimentary understanding of the magic involved.

That was one of the reasons why she enjoyed her special class with Annie and Kerry: she preferred quality over quantity.

Outside it was still clear with the temperatures hovering around 18 C. Gone were the overcast skies that greeted the morning and the windy conditions that heads lasted from just before lunch until perhaps an hour before. It had become such a nice afternoon that she decided to walk back to the Instructor’s Residents rather than jaunt—

Though she needed to take a slight detour first.

She jaunted from Memory’s End to a point just outside the shaft known as Dolvan’s Stairs, named due to its proximity to the Dolvan Pavilion. Though she’s used Far Sight to ensue she didn’t jaunt on to someone—which would be a disaster—she’d known the Westerly Path, as it was called, was going to be deserted. Not only didn’t many walk this way to the structures north of Memory’s End, but it was almost Friday dinner and all the school’s students would be on their way to the Dining Hall—

Well, almost all students.

She looked up and down the path to once again ensure she was alone, then Deanna turned right and began walking slowly north. In less than a minute she was standing next to the Dolvan Pavilion where she paused before looking around once more. Absolutely certain she was alone, she turned right and stepped off the path, making her way among the trees and foliage.

She didn’t have to go far to reach her destination, for only a few meters from the path was the shoreline of Lake Lovecraft. As a student she often visited Dolvan Pavilion and gazed eastward through the thinned foliage while thinking about the past events of the day and what lay ahead; today she was here to witness something else. Something that she felt was about to occur, something that required her to remain unseen.

 

There you have it: Deanna Arrakis being all stealthy and sneaky and stuff, roaming around the shores of Lake Lovecraft.  With her parents we are presented with a question: what would bring her out to Lake Lovecraft to witness something that requires her to remain unseen?  Well, if you’ve read the other two books, you probably have a good idea about what is going to happen next.

If not, I guess I’ll have to show you tomorrow.

Talk of the Town: All the Investment

Well, that was an interesting night.  I got my back fixed but I did not get a Unicorn Frappuccino because the Camp Hill Starbucks are run by asses and didn’t have enough ingredients stocked.  So no magical comments for you guys, and if you don’t have one ready for me tonight when I return, you are gonna be toast here tomorrow.

This after all the running around I did last night, I returned home about fifteen minutes before a bus captain webinar I logged into for this Saturday’s trip to D.C. for the March For Science.  Yes, I’ll be in Washington doing the captain of the bus thing again, but this weekend won’t be a big as the last time I was down about that way.  The last number I saw was an estimated 100,000 showing, which is still pretty respectable.  Hey, I’ll be making my voice heard–and I’m not getting paid.  Trust me.

One thing I did manage was to lay out Chapter Twelve.  And if I’m even luckier I’ll start the next scene.  If I do I’ll show you the scene titles so you can have a laugh…

Speaking of laughs–that’s something Helena isn’t doing.  And as we end the scene Ramona is more or less with the head sorceress:

 

 

 

 

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

 

Helena was about to say something when Ramona interrupted. “Did you notice Isis playing around with her tablet throughout the test?”

“As a matter fact, I did.” Helena removed her arm from the back of the chair and folded her hands together in her lap as she leaned forward. “You think she was streaming the test?”

“The only reasons she would’ve kept checking her tablet is one, she wanted to make certain her firewall in place and no one was hacking the signal; two, she’d want to make certain the bit rate didn’t fall too low.” Helena glanced up at a point on the wall above Ramona’s head. “And three, she would’ve also been watching the Marionette streams.”

There wasn’t anything in Ramona’s logic that Helena saw as incorrect. Given the large number of Spy Eyes in the room, she’d already accepted the possibility that San Francisco wasn’t just recording but live streaming as well. And given the way the homunculus acted—particularly during the third phase—it wasn’t difficult to believe there were puppet operators working the other end.

“All that makes sense.” Helena leaned sideways against the arm of her chair and sighed. “When that test started it was a little after five in San Francisco; that means they were getting people in place at four this morning.” She shook her head. “That’s a hell of a lot of preparation for a four minute test.”

 

Yeah, when your zombies are working together to take out one person, you can bet there are live people on the other end pulling those puppet strings.  What Helena says is also true:  a lot of prep work when into this test, and it seems as if San Francisco was, pardon the pun, pulling a lot of strings.  This is not normal procedure and it leaves both women wondering what it all means…

 

Ramona nodded. “That’s what I thought. That’s also why I thought this wasn’t approved by Gabriel: I don’t think he’d of had the audacity to invite people out that early in the morning to view this test live.” She, too, leaned against the arm of her chair. “You think you can find out who was involved in setting up this test?”

Helena shrugged. “Doubt it. While I’ve done my fair share of work for SOP, I’m in a completely different division. That means that some of the inner manifestations to go along with an SOP test are kept hidden from me.”

“You have any contacts who might be able to looking to those inner workings?”

“I have a few, but…” Helena rubbed her hands together as she considered the matter. “While those contacts don’t mind helping me out in a pinch with something they also see is bullshit, they’ll likely balk when I start asking them organizational questions—particularly who is doing and what at a continental headquarters.”

While Ramona knew nothing of the internal workings of the Guardians, she could see members of a super-secretive organization being just a secretive when it came to revealing their table of organization. “I guess we’ll find out who’s running things there eventually.”

Helena smirked. “Eventually.”

“So what do you think this means for those two?”

Helena pressed a fingertip against her right cheek as she contemplated this new reality. “It means someone has taken a rather exuberant interest in our couple.”

Ramona was quick to notice the deep frown crossing Helena’s face. “What’s wrong?”

The sorceress gave a deep sigh. “I’m somewhat torn.”

“By?”

She stared off into a corner of the room so that she didn’t have to look across the desk. “I don’t know if I should be excited, pleased, or terrified at that prospect.”

 

You know, when Helena is worried, everyone should worry.  You should worry more when she doesn’t know how she should feel, though, ’cause that’s always bad.  The take away here is the Guardians are upping their game on my kids and since we know they’re getting a mission, you can expect said missions won’t be anything like Kansas City.

And yes:  you will find out what’s going on behind the scene and those questions will be answered in this novel.  Act Two:  don’t miss it.

With that done, it’s time to move on to one of the moments that my kids get to share together…