About Mary Carlisle

Another character from next month’s novel…

First Impressions
Name: Mary Carlisle
Age: 24 years (April 6)
Occupation: ornithology
Summary: sweet, outgoing, intelligent. She likes to be outdoors, in nature.  She’s a real country girl.
Culture: Born and raises in a small town in New York, she isn’t comfortable in the big city, where everything feels too close.  She likes the wide-open spaces and takes things at a slow, relaxed pace

Loves
Family: parents, large extended family
Friends: church, work, etc. she has loads of friends
Romance: husband (Robert)
Things: charm bracelet (Pandora type)

Individuality
Flaws: fiercely independent, unpredictable (not a planner), easily stressed, competitive
Graces: charming, sensitive, imaginative, curious, artistic
Quirks: left-handed, sneezes really loudly
Skills: trained in zoology, very good at knitting

Language
Diction: relaxed manner with a distinctly Upstate NY accent (sort of NYC, but not quite); uses a bit of country dialect
Catchphrase: Did you see that?!

Appearance
Body: slender, athletic build
Skin: fair, but tanned from being outside
Hair: long, blond
Eyes: blue
Face: oval, fine features
Hands: small, delicate
Unique Features: none
Movement: walks with big, heavy steps; somewhat clumsy

Style
Fashion Style: casual fashion style
Colors: browns, tans, greens, soft colors
Textures: soft knits (sweaters, etc.); brushed cotton
Clothing: tee shirts, jeans, sneakers; flannels, sweaters; relaxed skirts; turtlenecks
Accessories: wedding band, scarves, sunglasses
Entertainment: hiking, biking, boating
Activities: knitting, drawing

 

I almost forgot her drabble:

hat

 

“Do you think you’ll need another sweater?”

Mary smiled as she looked over at Robert.  “It’s not going to be that cold, silly,” she said, shaking her head.  Closing the lid to her suitcase, she added, “One will be enough, along with my coat, for cool mornings.”

Robert nodded and hefted her suitcase off the bed.  Stooping to kiss her, he said, “I wish I could go with you.”

“Next time,” she promised.  As she followed him to the door, she shrugged into her coat.  “What?”

“Bring my hat,” he said, settling the ballcap on her head.

She grinned.  “Sure!”

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About Eduard Davis

First Impressions

Name: Eduard Davis
Age: 45 years (Mar. 3)
Occupation: scientist (expert in biochemisty)
Summary: social and generally cheerful; he’s a hard worker, with a direct and honest nature.  He’s not the sort to shrink from telling someone exactly what he thinks of them.
Culture: He was born and educated in Mexico, coming to the States later to follow his career.

Loves
Family: parents, sisters, large extended family
Friends: many friends, mainly among his colleagues
Romance: no one steady, yet
Things: walking stick (gift from parents)

Individuality
Flaws: can be stubborn, judgmental, focused on social status
Graces: loyal, patient and reliable
Quirks: very organized, tends to untie and retie his shoes if one lace gets loose
Skills: graceful dancer, trained in higher sciences

Language
Diction: He tends to use somewhat flowery and poetic phrases.  He speaks in a way that draws the listener in and makes them pay attention to him.
Catchphrase: You see what I mean, of course.

Appearance
Body: average height, athletic build
Skin: medium complexion, tanned
Hair: very dark brown
Eyes: brown
Face: oval, strong eyebrows
Hands: large, muscular hands
Unique Features: slight limp
Movement: graceful, confident; erect

Style
Fashion Style: vintage style
Colors: grays and blacks, some soft colors
Textures: soft wool and cotton
Clothing: fashionable suits with ties
Accessories: pocket handkerchief, flower at lapel, hat
Entertainment: theater (concerts, plays); fine dining
Activities: dancing, reading

Leon Jones

Another character for my upcoming NaNo…

First Impressions
Name: Leon Jones
Age: 32 years (Mar. 12)
Occupation: photojournalist
Summary: gregarious, street smart, flirtatious, snappy dresser
Culture: a farm boy by birth, but he’s worked hard to smooth off those rough edges.  He comes across as sophisticated and refined.

Loves
Family: parents, young sister, elder brother
Friends: Nathan Donavan (co-worker)
Romance: nothing steady or significant
Things: pocket watch that belonged to his grandfather

Individuality
Flaws: can seem arrogant, sometimes stubbornly close-minded
Graces: an honestly good man who wants to help others
Quirks: shoots his cuffs when frustrated, chatters when nervous
Skills: self-defense, sharp shooter

Cardinal Sin
Pride | Greed | Envy | Wrath | Lust | Gluttony | Sloth

MBTI
Extravert / Introvert | Sense / Intuition | Thinking / Feeling | Judging / Perceiving

Language
Diction: speaks in a precise, careful manner; faint Vermont accent
Catchphrase: I’m sure I’m right.

Appearance
Body: lower side of average height; average build
Skin: rather fair
Hair: dark brown
Eyes: brown
Face: chiseled features
Hands: long fingers
Movement: confident, certain

Style
Fashion Style: rather formal
Colors: more browns and blues than blacks and grays
Textures: soft, smooth fabrics
Clothing: suits with ties; khakis rather than jeans, polo shirts
Accessories: pocket watch, tie bar, pinky ring
Entertainment: theater (plays, ballet, opera), concerts
Activities: reading, photography

 

pumpkin

Leon was tired.  It had been a long and day.  He wanted to take a long bath.  As if he could just wash the problems of the day away.  He knew it wasn’t that easy.  It never was.

He opened the door of his apartment.  Then, as he closed the door, something rubbed up against his calf.  Chuckling, he flicked on the light.

A small marmalade tabby was rubbing itself against him.  It blinked up at him before returning its attention to his leg.  “Hey, Pumpkin,” he said.  Stooping, he lifted the cat into his arms.  Life wasn’t so bad.

About Andrew Smith

Here’s the first Character Worksheet for my upcoming NaNo

First Impressions

Name: Andrew Smith (Andriy Surikov)

Age: 30 years (Oct. 17)

Occupation: writer

Summary: quiet and unassuming; somewhat shy with little interest in socializing; he’s tense – nervous about something

Culture: Born and raised in Kyiv, Ukraine, he’s been living in the States for the last six years.  He still has some of the old-world charm going on (kisses ladies’ hands, bows slightly when greeting men).

 

Loves

Family: parents and siblings dead, one estranged uncle with wife and child

Friends: no friends to speak of, not very trusting, has trouble making friends

Romance: wife dies before action of story (Sofiya), toddler son also dead (Dmitri)

Things: carries small acorn trinket box with him everywhere, it was a gift from Sofiya

 

Individuality

Flaws: anxious; can seem callous or selfish

Graces: clever, droll wit

Quirks: sometimes talks about things that only interest him

Skills: theft, gymnastics, firearms, self-defense, speaks several languages, degrees in higher sciences

 

Language

Diction: speaks with crisp consonants, sometimes overly polite, has some trouble with certain idiomatic phrases; implacable foreign accent (sort of British, but not quite)

Catchphrase: “Did I say that correctly?”

 

Appearance

Body: short (for a man); athletic build

Skin: rather fair

Hair: blond (naturally strawberry blond); falls down over neck and ears, parted on left with long fringe over forehead

Eyes: blue; soulful

Face: oval, full lips, expressive brows

Hands: large, strong

Unique Features: scars on back

Movement: graceful, certain, confident

 

Style

Fashion Style: relaxed; clean cut

Colors: mostly black and white, some dark jewel tones

Textures: favors smooth, soft materials (cotton, linen)

Clothing: crisp white shirt, dark trousers, heavy sweater with polar bears and snowflakes

Accessories: acorn trinket box, glasses; wrist watch, wedding band

Entertainment: reading, writing

Activities: plays guitar, sings

 

Here’s a drabble, to show a bit of his character…

sweater

Andy heaved a soft sigh as he frowned out the window.  The sky was gray, overcast with clouds that threatened rain.  Wind swirled in the trees, shaking leaves from the branches.  Cold as it was here, it was bound to be worse in Vermont.

Shaking his head, Andy added a couple long-sleeved shirts to his suitcase.  Then, he closed the lid.  He paused at the door to shrug into a black sweater with polar bears facing each other.  He felt safer in this sweater – as if he were calling on the protection of the Great Father just by wearing it.

It’s that time again…

Each year since 2006, I’ve spent the month of October preparing for National Novel Writing Month.  This year is no different.  I’ve already signed up.  I’ve got my title (Crossing Paths).  I’ve got character images, setting ideas, dialogue prompts and such like on my pinterest page.  I’ve got a blurb.

I’m going to be spending this month getting to know my characters a bit more by writing drabbles featuring them and crafting character outlines.  Meanwhile… here’s what I do know about my story:

My blurb:
When he checks into the Bayview Inn, Andrew Smith is only looking for a dry place to stay for the night.  A chance encounter in the lobby may change his life forever.

Andrew, called Andy, is the main character.  There are five other major characters in the story.  There are, very likely, a host of minor characters that I’ll dream up as I need them.  I got the idea for this story from a prompt that I found online a few years ago.  I took it and ran with it in a completely different direction.

The basic idea is that Andy is going to meet someone at the Bayview Inn that he knows and who knows him.  The last thing he wants is to encounter someone who knows.  Why?  Because he’s on the run!  He’s hiding from… something.  I know what he’s hiding from, but I’m going to work on making that something of a mystery, at least at first.

One thing that I’ve learned from doing NaNo for so long is… what I think I’m going to write in November and what I actually end up writing is, at times, completely different.  I’m a discovery sort of writer, so that’s all right with me.

So… Are you going to participate in National Novel Writing Month?  If so, what are you writing about?  Are you a plotter, a pantser or (like me) something in between?

Taking a Moment to Relax

Once they had finished cleaning up from the fight, things became rather dull, so far as Liesel was concerned.  The Stars might consider themselves to be totally different from the Crosses, with their own community and their own rules for governing it, but Liesel couldn’t see any difference.  Both groups wanted to talk everything to death.  The only good thing about the Stars was that they didn’t expect kids to stay in the meeting.  That meant that they were allowed to go out to the playground near the community center.

It turned out to be the same park they’d visited with Konrad, where they’d first met David.  This time, they were allowed to see the whole playground, since they didn’t have to stay where Konrad could see them.  Liesel found the large climber that Markus had played on during their first visit and climbed up to a platform with two slides coming from it.

“Hey, Olivia,” she said, grinning at the other girl.  “I didn’t know you were here.”

Olivia nodded.  “Daddy told Mommy to keep us outside during the meeting,” she said.  Then, she shook her head.  “I didn’t know why, but them Mommy said there was a fight!”

“Everyone’s all right,” Liesel said, nodding.  Her brows furrowed and she shook her head.  “Mr. David mentioned that there was a map of gateways, like the one over in the forest there.”

“It’s in the book that the Elders keep,” Olivia said, nodding.  Her brows furrowed and she shook her head.  “Most of them are gone, though.  They got closed or broken.”

“How do you break a doorway?” Frieda asked, shaking her head.

Olivia shrugged.  “I don’t know,” she said.  “I just know they broke somehow.  Mr. Malcolm was telling Daddy about it.  Crosses closed some of them, he said, but a lot more were broken.”

Liesel hummed to herself.  Then, she sat on the slide.  At the bottom, she looked up at Konrad.  “How do you break a doorway?” she asked, shaking her head.  After a moment, she seemed to think better of the question and added, “I mean… the magic doorways, that lead to the Otherworld.  How could one of them get broken?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Konrad said, shrugging.  He ruffled her hair and said, “We’ll work on the problem together, later.  Markus might be able to get a copy of their book.”

“Why Markus?” Frieda asked, as she reached the bottom of the other slide.  “Why not you or Opa?”

Konrad smiled.  “If these Elders are anything like the ones back home, they’ll figure that Staffs are the ones that do research,” he said, nodding.  “Markus is our staff, so they might lend him a copy of the book Olivia mentioned.”

Frieda nodded and then scampered over to where Markus was playing with Johannes.  It was a large ball-shaped climber with webbing strung between the larger points of it.  Johannes was climbing around in the webbing, pretending to be a spider.  Markus was pretending to be a fly that was trying to get free of the webbing.

“Do you want to borrow the portal book from the Eden community Elders?” she asked, frowning up at him.

He climbed up to perch on one of the large green beads at the juncture of several bars.  “Yeah, sure,” he said, nodding.  He looked over at Johannes.  “Do you want for me to borrow it?”

“I think we need to see it,” Johannes said, his expression serious.  Then, he looked at Frieda and said, “Do you want to be a pretty butterfly?  Come into my web!”

“Pass,” Frieda called, as she ran back over to the big climber.  She climbed up the side, using the hand and footholds.  Then, she grinned at Olivia and Liesel.  “Johannes is pretending to be a spiddy spider,” she said.

Olivia shook her head.  “Why’s he wanna be a spider?” she asked.  She made a face and added, “Spiders are icky!”

“I think it’s because that dome has webbing in it and it makes him think he’s a giant spider in a giant nest,” Frieda said.  She hopped onto the platform and then said, “I don’t want to pretend to be stuck, though.”  Then, she went down the slide.  She was just hopping to her feet when she heard Opa calling her and her sister and brothers.

She sprinted over to the entrance of the playground.  Once she was there, she caught Opa by the hand.  “Is the boring stuff over?” she asked.  “Markus wants to borrow book.”

“The one that talks about the doorways,” Markus said, glancing over at David.  He adjusted his glasses and shrugged.  “It might help us know how everyone here became tainted.”

“And more about the doorways,” Frieda said, nodding.

“Not a bad idea,” David said, nodding.  He smiled at Konrad and nodded.  “I’ll clear it with the Elders and then Markus can borrow my copy.”

“Thank you,” Johannes said, grinning.  He looked up at Konrad and spread his hands.  “Why do they keep forgetting?” he asked.

“Because it’s not how they do things,” Konrad replied, lifting one shoulder.  He smiled at David.  “The Cross is in charge of things like this, even if he is only seven years old.”

“Right,” David said.  He chuckled and looked down at Johannes.  “Didn’t keep you from skipping a meeting, though.  Did it?”

“It’s not my fault you didn’t invite me to stay,” Johannes said.  He looked up at Opa and said, “I was a spider, Opa.”  He pretended that his pointer fingers where the spider’s mouth, waving them back and forth and making clicking noises.

“No spiders in the car,” Opa said, as Liesel and Frieda screamed and hid behind Konrad.  He chuckled and then shook David’s hand.  “I’ll get in touch with you about that book,” he said.

“Sure,” David said, nodding.  Then, he called for his own children.  “Time for lunch, kids,” he said, as Josh and Olivia ran up.  “Say goodbye to your friends.”

“We’ll see them again, right?” Olivia said, frowning.

Frieda grinned at Olivia and nodded.  “We visit here every summer,” she said, her tone certain.  “Even if you don’t see us again this summer, we’ll be back next year.”

Olivia grinned and then hugged Frieda.  Turning to Liesel, she hugged her as well.  “I hope you can come to the founders’ festival next month, at least.”

“Yes,” Liesel said.  Then, she giggled and danced back from Olivia.  Waving, she said, “Enjoy your lunch, Livie.  We’ll see you again soon.”  Then, she scampered off towards where Opa had parked the van.

A Plan of Action

The next day, they had a quick breakfast, then Opa took them out to the barn to meet with the others once again.  “This is not how I imagined your summer with me,” Opa said, as they all got out of his car.

Konrad shrugged.  “I’m sure that Tevas never imagined that we’d have to face down a horde of Singers when he took us camping,” he said, his voice soft.  He shook his head.  “Unfortunately, this is the life that we’ve got.”

“At least it’s never boring,” Liesel said, shrugging.  She scampered ahead of them to hold the door for everyone.  Then, she followed them inside.  Malcolm was already there with Ainsley.  David was there, as was Ryan.  There were also several other people that she didn’t know by name, but she recognized them for the previous night.

“You all know why we’re here,” David said, addressing the group.  His brows furrowed.  “I don’t think any of us suspected there was more to this than… just a misunderstanding.”

“We know different now,” someone grumbled.  Liesel looked over as an older man shook his head and glanced over at Ainsley.  “A Hammer, attacking her own Star…” he trailed off for a moment.  “I never thought I’d see the day.”

“Never thought I’d see the day one of us dragged outsiders into our disputes,” an elderly woman said.  She looked over at Opa and shook her head.  “They had no business putting a portal in your garden, Richard.”

“Grandson took care of it,” Opa said, ruffling Johannes’s hair.  “I’m more concerned with the here and now.  Do we have an idea how many we’ll be dealing with?”

Malcolm grimaced.  “Are we assuming everyone in the Eden Community aside from those gathered here has been tainted?” he said.  When Opa shrugged, he grimaced.  “With that assumption in place, they’ll outnumber us.”

“Good times,” Liesel said, grinning up at Konrad.

He grimaced.  “Not so much, no,” he countered.  He heaved a sigh and shoved his hands into his pockets.  Turning to David, he frowned thoughtfully.  “How much do you figure we’ll be outnumbered by?” he asked.

“Going by the same assumption as Malcolm, it’ll be something like four to one,” David said, nodding once.  Then, he shrugged.  “It may not be a valid assumption, though.  We might find that, the moment we start purifying them, and the inevitable reaction starts among them, a bunch of them are actually on our side.”

“From your lips to the Great Father’s ears,” Markus murmured.  He looked around at everyone.  “Would someone please tell me that we’ve got some sort of plan in place?”

“Spoken like a proper Staff,” Ryan said.  He shrugged.  “Right now, we know that everyone will be gathering at the community center.  The Elders have called a meeting and, in fact, we’re supposed to be there…” he trailed off to glance at his watch, before he finished the thought.  “In about twenty minutes.”

More

Picking up the Pieces

Once they got back to the barn, Frieda and Liesel sat down near Ainsley.  She was still very upset over what had happened.  Frieda knew, from her own experience, that it might help to talk about it with someone.  She gave the girl a faint smile.  Ainsley was about the same age as she was, with brown hair that just brushed her shoulders.  It was pinned back with barrettes on each side, but they were crooked.  Her tee shirt was a bit dirty and there was a bump on one knee that was also dirty.

“Do you want to borrow my brush?” Frieda offered, opening her little handbag.  Handing Ainsley the brush, she added, “So that you can fix your hair?”

“Thanks,” Ainsley said, taking the brush.  She tugged the barrettes out of her hair and then began smoothing her hair, while Malcolm tended to the bump on her knee.  As she reclipped her hair, she shook her head.  “I asked her wear you were and… she got really angry,” she said, looking down at Malcolm.

Heaving a sigh, Malcolm nodded.  “I’m sorry that happened, Ainsley,” he said, his voice soft.

Frieda took the brush and tucked it back into her bag.  “That happened inside the cabin?” she asked.  When Ainsley nodded, she asked, “What were you doing outside?”

Ainsley rubbed at her eyes.  Shrugging, she said, “I wanted to find Malcolm and – and Theresa was scaring me, so I sneaked out.”  She looked down at her knee, which was cleaned up and bandaged now.  “She knocked me down and… she seemed so angry!  I thought she was going to hurt me.  I just… I don’t know what happened.  All of sudden, there was blood.”

“Is your ring activated?” Johannes asked, pointing at her hand.  When she looked at him in surprise, he held up his own hand.  “I have one too, but it’s not awake yet.”

Nodding slowly, Ainsley looked down at the ring on her hand.  “My uncle – Malcolm’s father – activated it,” she said, her voice faint.  She looked at Johannes.  “You mean… my ring did something to Theresa?”

“It’s meant to protect you,” Johannes said, shrugging.  “If Theresa was trying to hurt you… it makes sense that your ring did something.”

“They make arrows,” Konrad said, his voice soft.  When all eyes turned to him, he shrugged.  “Flaming arrows, apparently.  At least, that’s why the Elder Sword back home said.  It’s why they teach the Crosses archery.”

Ainsley closed her eyes for a moment and then shook her head.  “I saw some kind of flash of light,” she said.  “Then, there was blood and… I think that I screamed.  Then, I realized that it was Theresa’s blood.”

More

Something Unexpected

It took quite a bit of convincing to get Opa to stay home.  He finally agreed only because Konrad promised that none of his younger siblings would be alone at any time during the operation.  Now that they were creeping through the trees, Liesel was wishing that Opa hadn’t let them go at all.

There was hardly any light from the moon.  Between the tiny sliver that was left of it and the scattered clouds, the forest was dark.  Then, there was the ground cover under the trees.  It was thick with brush and brambles.  Even seeing each other was difficult.  Seeing someone farther away than a few yards would have been impossible.  Any other time, Liesel might have been grateful for the natural cover.  Not tonight, though.  Tonight, it made her uneasy.  If she could hide, so could their enemies.

She nearly jumped out of her skin when Konrad touched her on the arm.  “Quietly,” he said, his voice hardly louder than a breath.  He pointed through the trees.  “I can see the cabin ahead of us.”

Liesel heaved a sigh and nodded.  She should have remembered that Konrad would be able to see.  She was blind without the light.  His vision was exactly the opposite.  In this darkness, he could see far better than he could in the daytime.  “Any activity?” she breathed.

He nodded once before he moved ahead of her, stepping carefully through the thick underbrush.  Liesel followed him as closely as she could manage.  Behind her, she could feel more than see the others.  Malcolm, David and Ryan had come with them.  Malcolm was keeping a close eye on Markus and Frieda, while David looked out for Johannes.

The wind ruffled through Liesel’s hair and she caught the faintest whisper on the breeze.  “Beware the Dark Ones,” the wind warned.  When she silently asked where they were, the wind answered, “All around you.”

She tensed and caught Konrad by the back of his jacket.  Her brother’s eyes seemed to glow as he turned to face her.  “Trouble,” she told her, her voice faint and her tone calm.  “Dark Ones are around us… somewhere.”

Konrad breathed a curse and glanced to the left and then the right.  Finally, he nodded and pointed forward.  “Straight ahead,” he said, speaking into her ear.  “Stop when you reach the edge of the trees.”

At her nod, he slipped away, moving on to the next person in their party and passing on her warning.  Liesel didn’t linger to hear them ask how he knew of the danger.  If they just thought about it for a moment, they already knew the answer.

Liesel slowed to a stop as she came to the edge of the trees.  A moment later, Frieda and Johannes joined her.  David was close behind.  She frowned at Frieda.  “Where’s Markus?” she breathed into her sister’s ear.

“He and Malcolm ran into trouble just as Konrad got to me,” Frieda replied, her tone vaguely annoyed.  “Konrad sent me on ahead.  He said that he’d help them.”

“I don’t like it,” Johannes whispered.

David gave a wry laugh.  “No one asked you to like it, pup,” he said.  He nodded once as Ryan arrived on the scene.  “The others?”

“They’re coming,” Ryan reported.  He heaved a sigh and shook his head.  Touching Johannes on the sleeve, he said, “How are you with healing?  Can you manage one?”

“Depends on how bad it is,” Johannes said, shrugging.  “Markus or Konrad?”

“Konrad,” Ryan said, scowling.

Johannes grimaced.  As the Sword, their brother tended to think of everyone else but himself.  When he got hurt, it was seldom a minor injury.  Johannes was about to speak when they heard a shrill cry from the cabin.

More

More from the meeting…

Continuing right where I left off..

**

Johannes nodded and then looked around at the group.  “You aren’t the only group that’s got splitting happening, though,” he said, shaking his head.  “It’s happening in the Haven communities too.”

When Ryan frowned, Konrad said, “He’s right.  Our parents left their home community because they were against marriage between Defenders and Crosses – even other Defenders.  You were expected to marry someone from among the Haven families, but not someone that held their family’s gifts.”

Frieda blinked and then looked at Konrad.  “The elders where we live don’t mind,” she said.

“No, they don’t,” Konrad agreed.  Looking at David, he said, “They even encourage it, since it makes those with the gifts in the next generation that much stronger.”

The Thurman Lance sighed and shook his head.  “When will it end?” he asked.  “Why can’t we have disagreements without it leading to splits that… we’ve considered each other enemies.  My cousins want to kidnap your Cross to punish him for stopping our Sword when… they were in the wrong from the start.”

“Why did they open a portal in Opa’s garden in the first place?” Liesel asked, shaking her head.  Her brows furrowed.  “Were they after us or Opa or Tevas or… was it just something they felt compelled to do?”

It was Ryan who answered.  “Someone found a map that contained the doorways,” he said.  He looked over at Liesel.  “You saw the one that was near the park?  There are others and each one leads to another part or level of the Otherworld, where the spirits dwell.”

“All right,” Markus said, frowning.  “What’s that got to do with opening portals?”

“If they open the right portal,” Ryan said, “they believe it will lead to the level of the Otherworld where the Snow Queen can be found.”  While they stared at him in shock, he nodded. “The problem is that the map only has the portals marked on it.  It doesn’t show any of the physical landmarks.”

“So, they don’t really know which portal to open,” Konrad said, his voice soft.  “They open a portal where the map shows one and try to figure out where it leads… to try to get their bearings.”

“Because the Cross families have closed enough of the doorways on the map that we can’t find enough of them to use as landmarks,” the Thurman Lance murmured.

Johannes frowned at Ryan and said, “I’ve got a question about that song you were singing.”

“The Power Disruption Song,” he said, his voice soft.  “It makes you feel the way it does because it changes the oscillations of your aura and disrupts your magic.”

For a moment, Johannes just stared at Ryan, blinking.  He looked over at Konrad and his brows furrowed.  Frieda knew exactly why, too.  Their Elders were very firm in the fact that they did not work magic.  They barely tolerated the songs being called spells.  They corrected anyone who made the mistake of calling it magic almost obsessively.

As Johannes turned back to Ryan, he said, “It’s magic?”

“What did you think it was?” David asked, frowning.  “Just singing doesn’t do very much, you know?  It’s the specific sequence of notes and tempo that make the spells work.  That’s magic.”

“Our Elders don’t allow us to call it magic,” Konrad said, shrugging.  “It’s an ability and a gift of the Great Father, but… they’re really adamant about it not be magic.”

“That’s because of how the wizards have treated us,” the Thurman Lance murmured.  He looked at Johannes and shook his head.  “What were you going to ask?”

“That’s the language the Singers use,” Johannes said, shaking his head.  “How do you all know it?  Is it related to the reason why our singing bothers you the way that theirs does us?”

“It’s the language of the spirits,” Ryan said, blinking.  His brows furrowed.  “All of our spell songs are in that language.  You mean yours aren’t?”

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