Saturday, May 09, 2009

Saturday Morning Breakfast Serial

Saturday Morning Breakfast Serial

I am so frustrated. I had written the entire huge breakfast serial down to the last line. And it crashed.


Blogger saves drafts every couple of minutes, but I started in MySpace, which apparently DOESN’T. So now I have to start over. And it may not be as good. But I’ll try.


I stepped through the seam in reality, dragging Tracker’s limp body into the lab of my former master’s home. Chlorinated water pooled around us, as I lay him gently on the floor and stripped off my backpack. I screamed "CASSANDRA" at the top of my lungs, my voice echoing off of the thick stone walls.

Something was wrong.

Other than the obvious.

There was dust. Cassandra doesn’t do dust. Dust can ruin a potion. In any quantity it can disrupt a spell. I can’t tell you how many times I was lectured on appropriate housekeeping habits. But there was dust in the lab. And Cassandra didn’t answer my call.

I heard footsteps crossing the floor above me, but they were the heavy, ponderous movements of Lucille, Cassandra’s housekeeper. There was no time to think about it. Tracker was badly injured. Shock was a very real possibility. I ran across the lab to the locked storage cabinet. Using my crystal I was able to get past the wards and open the lock. Everything I was looking for was inside. There were two large crystals their edges diamond sharp, their color the deep vibrant rose of Cassandra’s orders. Several other crystals were there as well. My own, apprentice attempts. They would not be nearly so powerful, but they were mine, which meant that I could unlock every bit of their power, and there were a lot of them.

Pulling the hem of my shirt out to form a "pocket" I scooped all of them from the cupboard."Buelah?" Lucy’s voice called down the stairwell.

"It’s me Lucy. Get Cass. I’ve got an injured man. He needs help!"I dashed back to where he lay. Kneeling in the sooting water beside him, I grabbed the largest of Cassandra’s healing crystals and set it on the center of his chest. Closing my eyes, I concentrated. I wanted to remember this perfectly. Mispronunciation would diminish the power of the spell. Tracker couldn’t afford that. Gathering my talent around me, I began chanting.I opened my eyes as a strong, clean wave of power flooded out of me and into him. Tracker’s back arched, his entire body straining as the magic did its work. I watched as blistered and blackened skin sloughed away, replaced by new, healthy tissue. I focused the power, concentrating on his eyes, his face. It was important the healing be perfect, so he wouldn’t be blinded, or hideously scarred. It was working! I felt a surge of satisfaction as I reached for the second rose crystal.

"NO!" Lucy’s hand swatted mine away. Grabbing me by my collar she hauled me forcibly to my feet. It was easy for her. Lucy is not a small woman, standing six-foot two in her bare feet and weighing in at over three hundred pounds. She shoved me toward the stairs, glaring at me when I turned to look back. "The boy will be fine. I’ll tend to him. You must save her."

She grabbed the fallen crystals, shoving them at me as she pushed me toward the stairs. "I’ve done everything I can, but I haven’t got any magic. She needs you. She’s in her bedroom." The terrified urgency in her voice spurred me on at a run up from the basement lab, through the house to her third floor bedroom, my wet shoes squelching and sliding on the hardwood floors.

I’d always admired Cassandra’s bedroom. It was a large room, a windowed turret letting sunlight or moonlight stream in. The walls were covered with cream wallpaper decorated with delicate pink roses. All of it, bright, light, airy.But that very brightness made it unmercifully apparent just how ill the woman lying on the antique four-poster bed must be. It illuminated the streaks of gray marring the tangle of midnight hair sprawled across her pillow, the crepey texture of the pallid gray skin with marks like dark bruises beneath her closed eyelids. Her grey tomcat, Maurice, was curled up on the bed beside her, refusing to so much as budge when I rushed over to the bed and sat down beside her.

"Oh my God. Cassandra, what happened to you?" Grabbing the healing crystal she had made, I set it onto her chest. As I had with Tracker, I gathered my will, and began the chant. I felt the power of the crystal rise and release, felt it recognize the woman it had originally come from, rushing home to her. But it didn’t heal her, didn’t stop. I felt it move onward, as if Cassandra’s body were nothing more than a conduit.

What in the hell?

I concentrated, using my gift to follow the flow of power. It was going into the wards, to protecting the house. My mouth went dry, and I found myself swallowing convulsively, trying to work up moisture. Cassandra had tied her life force to the wards, to protecting this house. And in finding that out, I also learned why.There were old magics, ancient weapons hidden in this house; terrible, fearsome things that had been entrusted to her family in antiquity. She could not, would not betray the trust her family had held for generations. She would protect them with her last breath if need be, and that was exactly what she was doing.

I grabbed several of my own crystals, laying them in a circle on her breast and repeated the chant. Less power came out, of course, but this time, with the wards fully charged, the power stayed in her body. Color slowly came back to her pallid skin. Her eyes opened, and ever so slowly she turned her head toward me, a pale shadow of her usual smile coming to her lips.

"That wasn’t half bad apprentice. You’re learning." She whispered the words from a parched throat.

"Cass . . ."Sometime during the healing I’d taken her hand, and she squeezed it gently to silence me. "Shush. I need to tell you something while I can. You were right about Evan. I was wrong. I’m sorry."

"It’s all right. Rest. . ."

"No!" Her voice only held a fraction of it’s old strength, but her dark eyes flashed. "You must listen. I can’t hold him off forever. He’s pulled back to regain his strength, but he has something planned. I know it."

"Yes. He does." I squeezed her hand. "I know. He’s been attacking me. And now I think I know why." I met her gaze. "He wants my crystal. Wants to use it to let himself through the wards."

She moved her head a fraction in what might have been a nod. "It’s why I had Lucy come here. To keep her safe. I would have called you back too, but I didn’t know how to reach you." Her eyes were fluttering closed. I could see she was utterly exhausted, but too stubborn to give in.

"It’s all right. I’m here now. We’ll fix this."

I tried to make it sound like I actually believed we could. I didn’t. But it was what she needed to hear, and I could lie for a good cause.

"Move aside." Lucy’s voice was rough. I turned to see her standing with Tracker in the bedroom doorway. She crossed the room, pushing her way past me to take a post beside the bed. "I’ll take care of her now. She needs broth, and rest." She gave me a look. "You look like something the cat," she nodded to Maurice, "dragged in." She cast a glance over her shoulder at Tracker. "The two of you get into some dry clothes and fix yourself something to eat. We’ll talk in the kitchen."

It was a dismissal. I didn’t mind. Lucy was more than Cassandra’s employee. She was her friend, had been for longer than I’ve been alive. I dragged myself across the floor, feet heavy with sudden, overwhelming exhaustion. She was right. I needed rest. And food. I’d done one hell of a lot of magic today, more than I should. I was going to be useless until I had a chance to recharge my batteries.

I just hoped that Evan would give me the time.


Dolly said...

Cie...I love this story. Maybe it should be a book. I get up on Saturdays looking forward to the next installment instead of thinking about the chores I have to do. Thanks.

Tammy said...

I have to agree with Dolly. I look forward to this all week.

C. T. Adams said...

Thanks guys! You're so sweet. I'm having a really good time with it. I figure if it's long enough I may see if anyone is interested in publishing it. If not, then I'll probably pull it together, edit it, and post it on the website as a freebie. :)

MH said...

Have read all your books and have enjoyed them; however, I still have all your books plus, plus, plus, etc. I can not give away or sell books, therefore, I am switching to e-books. Please, please consider publishing your books in e-book (adobe) format.