Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chapter 39: Ease My Worried Mind

Hey, it's Petra and Chad! The rare and elusive Chad!

Petra looks so interested in what your favorite food is, Izalee.

Perenna's favorite food is hamburgers. That's why Reggie is fixin' some.

Having a second child wasn't his idea, but he's just as attentive of a parent to Lucida as he was with Izalee. Which is good, because he's the one who gets to stay home and make sure she doesn't destroy the whole house while Perenna is working.

Of course, he works too, meeting all of Monte Vista's thrift store quality toy needs...

"That's certainly a thing, Dad," Izalee comments, looking up from the thirsty garden to see her father is welding something larger than his head. "What are you up to?"

"New idea," he says. "This is going to be awesome."

Night and day, Reggie works hard to bring his imagination to life.

Lucida hits the child stage.

She's a very active child, and is encouraged to funnel her energy into scouts and sports.

Izalee and Rain always end up in the same group for group projects at school. Their teachers assume no one else would want to work with them.

Rain's little sister has no appreciation for the seriousness of high school homework.

"♫ I've got you on your knees, I'm Laaaaaylaaaa! I got you beggin' please, Layla! Darlin' won't you ease my worried mind? ♪" 

"Layla," Izalee interrupts, "please go play with Lucida?"

 Layla finds Lucida in Reggie and Perenna's bedroom, playing with the mirror.

"Nice of you to show up, deputy!" her cousin greets her. "I'm playing Space Cactus 3 and I sorely need a princess to rescue."

"Do you think we'll ever get mage powers?" Layla asks.

"Tch, yeah, totally." Lucida sounds so confident.

Layla nods, accepting this answer. Magic powers tend to blossom most for teenagers. Her uncle, Reggie, told her she didn't have the capacity to ever learn spellcrafting, but he could be wrong, right? What does he know?

Obligingly, Layla dresses up so the two can play The Princess & The Sheriff.

"I'm picking up the elf princess's scent," Lucida announces. "I will track her down and bring her kidnapper to justice."

"You're just pawing around in the grass," Layla says, shaking harmless, biodegradable glitter out of a toy wand.

"Elves smell really fruity, but I must put aside my disgust, for the sake of the kingdom!"

"Heeey! I don't even remember any elves in Space Cactus," Layla complains.

Like her mother, Lucida can easily sense the spiritual charge in other people, without ever having been trained to do so. In science fiction shows, it's always "seeing auras"... but for Perenna and Lucida, it's closer to smelling or tasting auras. Humans mostly smell the same, but even the thoroughly mundane Layla is a little abnormal in comparison. Lucida wonders if the weird can ever be completely bred out.

Perenna doesn't have an answer for that. She's not a genetics expert, and she's not even completely sure what her husband's bloodline is composed of. There are too many reasons he could be blue.

"But it's blank." Carlos Moretti is confused about this marketing campaign.

"It's symbolism," Perenna tries to explain. "The movie is called The Blank Space."

I'm sure you'll finish that thing someday, Reggie...

Etc.: Layla was singing her version of Layla (a song from Derek and the Dominoes).

I still don't know why handing out flyers is something film career employees do.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chapter 38: She Didn't Need My Help

Reggie hasn't thought about Gysael in a while, but this night she haunts his dreams. He walks out into the yard and finds her standing in a misty rain, a teen again, with her guitar, a snarl on her face.

"Come with me," she sings. "You feel me. Why do you pretend you don't agree with me? The psychometric is chasing his daughter, who's chasing the cat, and why do we care? We're fated to fail, and I'm madder every time, I'll rip them to shreds in every incarnation 'till there's none left anymore, incineration, incarceration, reiteration, the process of elimination, why've you left me alone? Retaliation! Revitalization, realization, why you and not me? Why'd you let me go alone? Inclinations, I've got them, part of me remembers and most of me doesn't. Hide my ears. Burn the years. Rage and rage. I can change. I did change. I can change. On my own. Unwound, still bound, spellbound, lost and then found. My mistakes, replicated, still not sated, for the record, for the discord. Serenity's forsaken me. Left me cold and alone."

Sometimes, Perenna wakes up in the morning with the strong urge to sharpen her claws on nearby furniture.

Must be nice to be able to afford that.

How many times do you have to be told not to dig in the flower pots, yo?

Random pic of Petra hanging out with her former housemate Terry Taylor.

In Firelight, Perenna explains, there was always a bonfire party in honor of one's teen birthday.

Not much of a party, Izalee thinks, as she watches her father and step-mother dance. But she's long since accepted that she won't be the type to have friends outside the family.

With a flick of a recently-cobbled-together magic wand, the young witch causes the fire to burn blue and cold.

She didn't really need my help to become a mage, Reggie tells himself.

Watching the fire manipulated into something decidedly not-fire, Perenna is reminded of the elementals who guarded her childhood home.

This home: guarded by Polka the inept.

(Because Vox the small is getting pretty old.)

Lucida is now old enough to know she shouldn't pull her father's hair, so she settles for petting it.


Izalee senses her cousins' approach. "What's up?"

"Nothin'," Rain responds. "Just baby-sister-sitting."

"The dogs are inside if you want to play with them, Layla." Izalee means Polka and Vox are inside, but if Layla wants to play with Lucida, that's fine too...

"I know when I'm not wanted," Layla jokes, as she saunters away.

"I didn't mean it that way!" Izalee protests.

"That garden is a lot of work, huh?" Of all the things Rain imagined she'd be doing as a teenager, spending a Saturday afternoon watching her cousin water plants was... well, it was kind of predictable! But she'd hoped for better!

"It makes me feel closer to Grandma," Izalee says. "Not letting her garden die."

"I have other things that make me feel closer to Grandma." Rain waves around Greta's focusing wand, creating a harmless light show in the air.

"Sometimes I wonder if she was even that great of a person." Izalee magics the dirt off her hands.

"Wow, you are a downer today."

"Yeah? Check this out." Izalee sets out to prove she is not a downer today, and summons her own wand from hammerspace. "Constructed it myself. It's uniquely in tune with my energies."

Rain's eyes widen. She is genuinely impressed. "That is so cool!"

The cousins practice their focusing exercises in silence for a while, then Rain speaks up: "I think we should leave Monte Vista when we grow up, and try to find Firelight."

Izalee's nose crinkles. "Pff. What?"

"You mean you haven't thought about it?!?! We could be with other witches and junk!"

"Be with romantically, or socially?"

"Both? Just think of all the cool stuff we could learn. You probably can't, it's so awesome we can't even imagine it."


"Come on! Monte Vista is so booooring, I want to see the world."

"We can't go looking for other witches," Izalee protests. "We'd just find Supernatural Control, and then end up dead or something."

"I've been thinking about all of Grandma's warnings, yeah. But what if they were all over-paranoia? Her memory was all wonked out. And Perenna met an agent, and he let her go..."

"He let her go after murdering her parents in front of her. Honestly, Rain. Listen to yourself."

Etc.: Honestly.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Chapter 37: Better Left Alone

"I fainted?" Perenna stares numbly at her husband. Then at the floor.

"I was about to take you back to the hospital," he says worriedly. "They let me bring you home as soon as you woke up, but then... you became quiet. You've only snapped out of it now. What happened?"

Perenna frowns, trying to remember what she was doing. "I was trying to hassle one of the new guys into doing his job, and then..." And then she remembers.

She had a psychic vision, triggered by Archer's kid. Perenna isn't the type to have visions; the child must have been the cause. Unless it was just a silly dream... but it didn't feel like a dream. It was far too clear. Right down to the country bumpkin (but still midriff exposing) clothes she'd been wearing, ick!

What she saw couldn't be a possible future. But taken literally, would it be a possible past? One where she was mixed up in something dangerous?

She's given thought to past lives before, just for fun, but in those daydreams she was a different being entirely, like maybe a bird or something, not a different version of herself...

"Perenna?" Reggie implores her to respond.

She smiles. "Don't worry about it. I think I just skipped breakfast."

Then she frowns. "Aw man, my boss is going to be so moody about this."

"I'm glad you're alright!" Archer goes adorably wide-eyed when he sees Perenna. "I hoped it wasn't something I said..."

"Heh, it wasn't," she reassures him. "I wanted to apologize to you. I think my 'hello' was a little strong."

"I'm normally used to people coming on a little strong," he mumbles. Then he raises his voice back to normal to say, "It's just, I'm really not very magically-inclined. My father knew some mage stuff, and being a special flower did nothing but get him killed."

"I understand," Perenna says, assuming she knows the story.

"Aye-aye, then, we'll discuss it no more," he winks, after putting on the traditional Barnacle Bay accent.

"How's your son?" she inquires, after a pause.

"He's fine," Archer insists. "Can't leave him unsupervised for five seconds, that's all! He's a little explorer."

"And Monte Vista is a strange foreign land," she nods.

Perenna has decided the Archers should be left alone...

Shooting will be done soon, and then they'll be gone anyway. 

Izalee becomes a teenager.

She spends a lot of time in the garden.

And a lot of time painting.

Rain also becomes a teen, and Layla enters the child stage.

"It's no fair Izzy gets two pets, and we don't even have one," Layla complains, though she's got a smile on her face, enjoying the pool, enjoying the afternoon and the company of her weird big sister.

"I bet our parents wouldn't say no if we brought a cute one home without asking," Rain muses.

"Oh!" Layla perks up. "Magic one up!"

"Hmmm." Rain gives the idea more serious thought than it deserves. "When I teleport things to me, I don't conjure them into existence, you know. They have to be things that already exist somewhere. It's not even a spell. It's just some psionic ability I have. I didn't have to learn it. That's an important distinction, with magic."

"Yaaaaaawn," Layla says.

"Okay, okay," Rain laughs. "Here goes."

Yes, Rain has the ability to teleport things she wants to her. But it's easier when she's familiar with the object or person, when she knows where they are and what they are. Grabbing onto abstract concepts is trickier, and doesn't always work.

"Okay, homeless puppy," she murmurs. "I need a homeless puppy. A puppy that needs my sister's love. A puppy no one is looking at right now, so they won't freak out when it disappears."

"Ummm... sis?"

Rain doesn't open her eyes, too busy concentrating. "Yeah?"

"This isn't a puppy... but it is SO CUTE."

"Aw, man!" Rain's feels her face flush in embarrassment. "Did I teleport a cat here?"

"Yeah," Layla answers. "There was flashy light and everything."

"I'm gonna call him Gus."

Etc.: Rain wut r u doin

That kitten could be a SPY.

(spoilers: kitten is not a spy)

Fun note: Percy's dad was off'd as part as some freakish magic ritual to free an ancient evil entity. He was not murdered by secret police, as Perenna assumes. And that's probably (ugh, hopefully) not going to come up again so I'll let you have it as an aside.