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The Chosen Grandma, Chapter 39.1

by BlueAfrica


A/N: 83yo Chosen One Edna Fisher heads to Barstow, California, where she hopes to find a woman who works for the sorcerer Redway. However, the woman disappears before Edna and her friends can learn Redway's plans. When dragons attack Barstow, Edna's teen companion, Clem, is mistakenly kidnapped as the Chosen One.

In other news, if anyone speaks Spanish and wants to tell me if my translations are wrong or simply awkward/unnatural/overly formal/not formal enough constructions, that would be lovely.

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Edna clutched her handbag in one hand, her cane in the other, and kept her eyes fixed on the dragons flying steadily southeastward. She could no longer tell which had Clem on it. Beside her, Benjamin had regained consciousness but was still dazed and coughing and rolled over now and then to wretch over the side of the carpet. Behind her, Kiernan sat with his legs crossed and his head hanging heavily in his hands like a lead weight. The fire had got to both of them badly, but she had little concern to spare.

They raced along, well out of the skylanes but far below the dragons. It occurred to her that she ought to come up with a plan. Surely they were taking Clem to Redway—perhaps he hadn’t even been in Barstow, perhaps Clem’s plans had been doomed from the start—and surely she wouldn’t be able to waltz in after them. Assuming she could even find their landing place. The longer they flew, the further ahead the dragons pulled. Already they looked a good deal smaller than they had on their way out of Barstow.

Edna leaned forward and urged Beatrice faster, but it was no good. She could feel the carpet straining, but the edges were blackened and burned, frayed and warped, and they weren’t going as fast as she remembered Beatrice going before, when they’d flown through the battle after Clem. The fire had done a number on the carpet, too. Which would have made her feel worse, if she was capable of feeling worse just now: Amir had worked so hard, worn himself out, made himself sick, and already his enchantments had been put through dragonfire and were wearing thin. She had to imagine they could have withstood an ordinary fire, but dragonfire was one of the few things that could reliably destroy magical objects and undo enchantments. She wished she could see him.

Somewhere in her handbag, a cell phone rang. Conga drums and horns, that song from that other musical Clem liked.

Edna scrambled to find it, certain that it was Amir, that he had somehow heard her thoughts and somehow realized she had Clem’s phone on her and somehow found Clem’s number. It was the sort of impossible thing she needed just then.

But it was the one thing that could make her feel worse at this moment. Clem’s mother.

With dread in the pit of her stomach, Edna answered.

“Clementine?” Clem’s mother cried. “Mija, thank God! I’ve been so worried. They said on the news—”

Edna took a deep breath.

“Mrs. Rodriguez?” she said softly.

The speech broke off. Edna closed her eyes. There would be a moment where Clem’s mother would not accept that it was not Clem on the phone, where she would be certain she had misheard, and then that moment would be gone and she would scream, or cry, or faint. Or perhaps she would do nothing, turn gray and silent and old in an instant and go about her work because it was all she could do. The only comfort Edna had for her was that Clem was not dead. At least for now.

“Where is my daughter?” Clem’s mother asked at last, shakily. “I want to speak to her. Put her on.”

Edna took another deep breath. “Mrs. Rodriguez—”

“Put my daughter on the phone!”

Another voice in the background, incoherent, a struggle in which Edna heard her arguing with someone and crying, and then a different, older voice spoke into the phone.

“Lo siento. Mi hija no está sola en este momento. ¿Quién es este? Senora Fisher?”

Edna had no idea what she was saying, beyond recognizing her own surname. “Is this—is this Clem’s grandmother?”

The voice didn’t seem to know what she was saying, either, but it brightened at the mention of Clem’s name. “Clem, si. ¿Dónde está? Ella está bien?

“I’m going to find her,” Edna said desperately. “I’m going to get her back. I’m so sorry, I—”

The dragons grew still smaller on the horizon. Edna leaned into Beatrice’s weave and said, “Please, Beatrice dear. Please try.”

The carpet fluttered and strained but couldn’t go any faster. Edna put the phone back to her ear, even though she didn’t know Spanish. In the background she could hear Clem’s mother yelling, also in Spanish, presumably demanding to get the phone back. Another struggle, and then she was back on the phone.

Usted ni siquiera hablan inglés, mamá!” she hissed, and then she switched back to English. “Please, just tell me she’s all right.”

Edna hesitated. “She’s alive.”

“Thank God.” Clem’s mother started crying. “Thank God. Oh my God, why did she go off like that, why did she—”

“It’s all right,” Edna said, even though it was very far from all right. “I’m going to get her back, I promise—”

“Get her back? What do you—?”

The call cut off.

“Mrs. Rodriguez?” The screen flashed the words “call dropped.” Edna pressed it back to her ear and shouted into the phone. “Mrs. Rodriguez! Are you there? Hello?”

No one answered. The screen went black. Edna thrust the phone at Kiernan, since he looked the better of the two boys. Benjamin was throwing up over Beatrice’s side again.

“Call them back!” she demanded.

The elf gazed at her dazedly for a moment like he couldn’t conceive of such a thing as a phone call at a time like this, then took the phone and looked at it.

“I can’t,” he said, handing it back to her. “There aren’t any bars.”

Edna had no clue what that meant and didn’t much care. “Make it work. They’re worried about her.”

“I can’t make it work. That’s what I’m telling you. The cell service out here is really patchy. You won’t be able to call them back unless we wind up somewhere with better reception.”

Edna threw the phone back into her handbag in a rage and immediately pulled it out again to make sure she hadn’t damaged it. Clem would never forgive her.

Ahead, the dragons stopped flying onward and instead hovered, circling over the greenery far below. Edna sat up straighter and clutched her handbag tighter.

“What are they doing?” she said in a strangled voice. “What’s going on?”

Kiernan gazed past her bolted upright, looking more alert than he had since he’d rescued them from the porch. He said nothing as Beatrice flew them closer, but his eyes narrowed.

“Do you think they’re there?” Edna asked. “Wherever they’re taking her?”

The watched the dragons for a moment. Benjamin wiped his mouth weakly and sat up.

“They’re not making a descent,” he said. “They’re just…”

“Circling,” Edna said.

Kiernan’s eyes were still narrowed.

“Someone must have fallen off,” he said at last. “Do you think—?”

Edna wrung her hands.

“I don’t see how we’ll ever find her,” she said. “If she fell—oh! She’ll be lost. She could get hurt—she could die—it’s such a long way to fall. Oh—”

The dread that had settled in her stomach when Clem’s mother called rose to her chest and tightened around her lungs like a metal band. Benjamin put an arm around her but then leaned into her, still weak from the fire.

“She’ll be fine,” he said. “She’s too stubborn to die.”

Edna started crying. “Oh, how can you joke at a time like this!”

Benjamin lay back on the carpet. “Sorry. I was just trying to…”

He sat up again, so quickly that his face turned ashen and gray. He sat like that for a minute, breathing in a way that said quite clearly he was fighting the urge to vomit again. Then he said weakly, “What if she jumped on purpose?”

Kiernan stared at him. “That’s suicide.”

Benjamin shook his head almost imperceptibly and quickly stopped. “She knows some spells. There’s one she can do, she could slow herself down—I bet she could land safely. Remember, Edna? Like the van. Maybe she jumped on purpose. She might have escaped.”

Edna wiped her eyes on her sleeves. She wanted to hope. But there was still so much that could go wrong.

“Even if she lands safely,” she said, “how would we ever find her?”

Kiernan hesitated.

“Do you have something of hers?” he asked.

Edna produced Clem’s phone. He examined it again, more carefully this time, turning it over in his hands.

“Not ideal,” he said, “but we could use it to divine her. I’m not great at spells, but over a short range I should be able to—”

Edna wiped her eyes again. “You know how to divine people?”

If only they’d found him so much sooner.

He hesitated again. “I know…a bit. I couldn’t find someone halfway across the world, but within a few miles should be all right. I have to have an object, preferably something that meant a lot to them. Like I said, a phone’s not ideal, but she used it a lot, right? So I should be able to do something with that.”

Edna expected Benjamin to raise all sorts of objections about how divination was tricky magic and not allowed without a license and how they’d be more likely to accidentally blow themselves up than succeed, but he nodded.

“Okay,” he said, “so we land as close as we can to where we think she went down, and then—”

Edna laughed and hiccupped.

“Take us closer, Beatrice!” she cried. “And fly lower. As soon as they fly off, we’ll land and start the search.”

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Mon Aug 20, 2018 12:43 am
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LadyBird wrote a review...



This review done to the tune of Immigrant Song because I was just in the mood for it.

Edna clutched her handbag in one hand, her cane in the other, and kept her eyes fixed on the dragons flying steadily southeastward. She could no longer tell which had Clem on it. Beside her, Benjamin had regained consciousness but was still dazed and coughing and rolled over now and then to wretch over the side of the carpet. Behind her, Kiernan sat with his legs crossed and his head hanging heavily in his hands like a lead weight. The fire had got to both of them badly, but she had little concern to spare.

Here's some quick commentary on this opening part because i just love to comment on the first parts for some reason.
*judges book by its first paragraph*
1. the essentials. edna has all the essentials that she needs.
2. Because dragons are really known for having numbers spray painted on their butts. Because that's a thing that happens in the army of this world.

“Take us closer, Beatrice!” she cried. “And fly lower. As soon as they fly off, we’ll land and start the search.”

Because the carpet is half sentient, can there be a chapter from the carpet's point of view? Where the only dialogue it can answer with is "hell no"? Because I would love that as a sub plot line so much.

So another big picture issue with this is that I don't remember Edna making up with Kiernan? But then he's just magically aboard the carpet with everyone else?
You have a continuity issue every time you go to switch perspectives, which doesn't make you special. Almost every body misses a little bit here and there when they switch back and forth, it's just a side effect of the method.
But this is more than a little bit. there's a chunk gone.
I could just be forgetting the transition to this point but if i'm forgetting that transition, it might need to be redesigned?

I'm gonna bounce again and keep my commentary to myself.




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Sun Jun 17, 2018 1:04 pm
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Saen wrote a review...



Hey, Blue!

Your grammar is on point, like it usually is.

I may or may not have somehow read this chapter and the one before it out of order, which made for a very interesting reading of this one. I'm not sure if it really had much effect on it, but you should try rereading those two chapters like that sometime - it adds more suspense to this one. On a somewhat plot-related note, the pacing in this chapter was great. It usually is, but I liked how you included both the call from Clem's family and Kiernan's decision to help them find Clem.

Speaking of Kiernan, the poor guy must be freaking out. He has no way of contacting Redway or any of his allies to let them know that Clem isn't the actual chosen one, and now he has to deal with trying to find her on top of everything else. Besides that, I feel like he must have been having an interesting inner conflict at the moment. Clem fits the stereotype of a hero. I think it might be easier for Kiernan to deal with facing someone - albeit, someone who is only a teen - that seems so passionate about destroying Redway. Edna is a completely different sort of person. If I was a villain in the same way that Kiernan was, I'd be really torn about the whole situation. Edna isn't driven by revenge or justice; she's driven by wanting to help others.

I'm sorry that this review is so short.

Good luck on your writing endeavors!
Sae




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Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:25 pm
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DarkPandemonium wrote a review...



Hiya, Blue! Back again and actually up to date. :)

Small Comments

rolled over now and then to wretch over the side of the carpet


I think it should be 'retch' in this context.

Amir had worked so hard, worn himself out, made himself sick, and already his enchantments had been put through dragonfire and were wearing thin. She had to imagine they could have withstood an ordinary fire, but dragonfire was one of the few things that could reliably destroy magical objects and undo enchantments.


I loved these details! And it made me positively ache for Beatrice, knowing that my poor baby carpet was so wounded. I like that you relate it back to Amir, as well. You're good at making absent characters still feel present within the story.

Edna scrambled to find it, certain that it was Amir, that he had somehow heard her thoughts and somehow realized she had Clem’s phone on her and somehow found Clem’s number. It was the sort of impossible thing she needed just then.

But it was the one thing that could make her feel worse at this moment. Clem’s mother.


There's something about the phrasing of the bold that doesn't work here - the use of 'it' and the repetition of 'thing' makes it seem like you're still talking about Amir calling, and thus that him calling is the one thing that could make her feel worse. If you changed it to something like 'But it turned out to be to only thing that could make her feel worse', I think you'd remove that ambiguity.

Once again, there's a good chance I'm over-analysing this, so feel free to ignore me

There would be a moment where Clem’s mother would not accept that it was not Clem on the phone, where she would be certain she had misheard, and then that moment would be gone and she would scream, or cry, or faint. Or perhaps she would do nothing, turn gray and silent and old in an instant and go about her work because it was all she could do. The only comfort Edna had for her was that Clem was not dead. At least for now.


Loved this passage! It's emotive, but it's got great sentence variation and rhythm as well, so the writing siiiings.

Overall Thoughts

1) Another good chapter! I agree with papillote that it's a nice companion to the previous one. I think it's paced really well, and it feels like it's split up into sections that lead into each other cleanly. I really enjoyed the phone call to Clem's family. Even though I can't comment on the Spanish, I feel like the English dialogue was believably fractured and frantic. I'm glad that you never fail to remind us how much of a child Clem is. The fact that she has a family somewhere that's absolutely terrified for her just adds another layer of reality.

2) I adored the realism of the phone cutting off due to lack of reception, as well - and Edna's inability to understand what that means.

3) The idea of divining magic is pretty cool as well; I can't remember if we've come across it before. Either way, I'm loving the suspense of Kiernan being One of the Gang again. It's so dangerous for them to keep his company, but at the same time they'd be dead without him - and they'd have very little chance of ever finding Clem. It makes me wonder what on earth is going to happen when they track her down. Is he going to give himself away? Or will he lead them to Redway under the pretence of helping them confront him? I feel like the second outcome would be most interesting, especially from Kiernan's perspective. I want to see him come to know Edna and co. as real people. Give me that VILLAIN ANGST.

4) I thought that Edna's original reaction to thinking that Clem had fallen off the dragon wasn't really...extreme enough? Her immediate response was to worry that she'd 'be lost' and 'get hurt', even though there's literally no way that she could survive that fall without magic. I'd expect her to be way more panicked until Benjamin calmed her down by reminding her about the spell.

That's all my thoughts for this one! I'm glad to be caught up, but I can't wait to read more. These last two chapters have been really good. What was it you were saying about a decline in quality...?

Keep writing! :D
~Pan




BlueAfrica says...


Her immediate response was to worry that she'd 'be lost' and 'get hurt', even though there's literally no way that she could survive that fall without magic.


Tbh my problem with it is, doesn't it seem a little weird/too convenient/something along those lines that they immediately figure out exactly what we saw her plan in the last chapter??? It felt awkward but also I needed them to figure it out so??? idk I'll have to figure it out later but I am 100% open to suggestions if it seemed awkward to you

The idea of divining magic is pretty cool as well; I can't remember if we've come across it before.


We haven't seen it but it's come up twice. The first was way back at the hotel when Benjamin and Edna were on their way to Michigan to get the sword - they were trying to figure out which Theobald Smith had it, and Edna suggested divining him, and Benjamin was like "wtf I don't know how and it's illegal without a license and do you want me to accidentally burn down the hotel by mistake bc that's probably what would happen." The second time was uhhhh I want to say when Methodius was griping about Clem's plan to go to Barstow instead of Dominion and she was like "well have you been able to divine where in Dominion Redway is? No, because there's too much interference from the dragons" oh no that might be a slight inconsistency at this point unless Kiernan clarifies that only short range divining spells work in Dominion bc of the dragons

I want to see him come to know Edna and co. as real people. Give me that VILLAIN ANGST.


Image

But in all seriousness it'll probably feel super rushed and not realistic bc I had him leave the group all those many chapters ago, so in the next draft I might keep all the gang together like I originally planned. I thought it would be too difficult to keep Edna's Chosen One status hidden from him until the moment he learned about it in this draft, buuuuuut if they all agree to pretend that Clem's the Chosen One bc they don't want to tell him the whole truth then maybe that's good enough? I have this idea that the world at large finds out there *is* a Chosen One but Our Heroes just keep pretending it's Clem bc a) it's more believable and b) for Edna's safety (except then that begs the question: what about Clem's safety??? oh my god what am I even going to do in revisions everything's just going to create more plot holes and it's all going to get worse someone send help)





Okay, re: telling Kiernan that Clem is the Chosen One, here's a couple of ideas off the top of my head:

1) Do they have to tell him? Could it be possible that Kiernan secretly finds out they have the Sword of Destiny and then just presumes that Clem must be the Chosen One because she's the traditional choice? That said, it could be problematic if he's with them long term, because it's bound to come up at some point that Edna is the real Chosen One. Unless Kiernan is never fully integrated into the group and they make a point not to share the whole truth with him. I suppose that could work, but it depends on what kind of relationship you picture Kiernan having with the group as a whole. I certainly think you could justify them keeping it a secret from him, seeing as it's the best thing for Edna's safety and his, as far as they're aware.

2) Maybe they tell him that Clem is the Chosen One in a bit of a panic and just never think to tell him the truth after that? If they really think he's just a guy who's helping them get to Dominion, I guess they'd feel that it wasn't in anyone's best interests to tell him more than he needed to know.

It is a tricky thing to solve, because I remember even in this draft that I was a bit shocked by them just dumping Clem in it like that. The Chosen One is a dangerous thing to be. If there was a way to have them not tell him at all, and just for Kiernan to make assumptions, I feel like that would be a better bet. But it does open more problems when it comes to maintaining the secret, I suppose?? ?



BlueAfrica says...


Exactly!!!! It's so complicated however I do it.



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Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:52 pm
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papillote wrote a review...



Hi, there.
I'm trying to write a review about this chapter, but I really don't have that much to say. It's a good companion to the one with Clem, even if it's a little less epic.

It was interesting to have the phone-call from Clem's family smack in the middle of it. It reminds you that she isn't an action hero. She's a real person with a mother and a grandmother, and she's a kid.
Now, I know why you needed a Spanish translation.

Edna was, as always, perfect, spot-on. There is a definite whiff of romance between Amir and her. Benjamin didn't do much but he did it really well. So, really, my only issue is with...Kiernan.

What the hell is he up to?! It's not that I hate him being helpful. I actually really like it, but his buddies are on the dragons just a little further away. Why doesn't he text them to come and get Edna &Cie? And why is he ready to help them find Clem? He doesn't care about Clem. He sold her out two chapters ago. I don't get it…

Maybe next chapter will shed a little light on that. I hope Clem is okay and Kiernan won't do something that forces me to hate him.
Until next time.




BlueAfrica says...


See, this is my problem! I feel like I need about a thousand Kiernan chapters in this section of the book partly just for fun I admit but I really can't suddenly just have every chapter be from his perspective. So hopefully everyone will be satisfied with what I can give them.

Oh, right, that reminds me, I need to edit my author's note so that if anyone speaks Spanish and is like "um this is wrong" they can help me out.



papillote says...


Good idea.
Then again, Kiernan can be our Jack Sparrow, and we might just never know what he's thinking until the very last moment when he makes his move.



BlueAfrica says...


Yeah, hopefully at this point in the story you guys trust me enough to trust that I have a plan suckers



papillote says...


You wouldn't be insulting our intelligence, of course...



BlueAfrica says...


Of course not. Honestly. Why would you even think such a thing?




Some call me a legacy, others call me a hero. But I assure you, dear admirers, I am only human.
— Persistence