I’m delighted to see you here in the 1959 Caddy for the road trip that is The Guitar Mancer. This is an urban fantasy. So suspend the rules of reality and be ready for some magic, even though we stay in the real world.
Sometimes I wonder if the car is ever going to get out of the driveway, as I give you digestible chunks of this novel each week. However, I promise the story actually will get to the highway. I’m glad you’ve taken the time to join the adventure. Lean back in your seat and have some road trip snacks.
Speaking of highways and road trips, I know a blogger and non-fiction writer who loves to travel. The delightful D.G. Kaye (also called Debby) commented with a collection of “things” from the late 1960s. In this episode I was able to use Black Balls, rainbow shades, and Pixy Stix.
Debby has a fun sense of humor and it’s reflected in her writing. Her blog reminds us to Live. Laugh. Love. And Don’t Forget to Breathe! Be sure to pay D.G. a visit and learn about her inspiring non-fiction books.
About This Episode
This installment of The Guitar Mancer picks up where we left off, with Luci in a drug and magic induced haze. As Episode 13 opens, I’m telling the story from Luci’s point of view. However, at an appropriate moment I change point of view. Tam needs to tell the story for awhile.
That 1959 Cadillac is gassed up and ready to get on the road. Luci is headed for trouble, so let’s see what she’s gotten into.
Episode 13 — Champagne
Another wave of nausea rolled across her stomach. The out of focus world around her continued to lurch and sway. A goblet was pressed into Luci’s hand. She sipped from it, expecting water. Surely anyone could look at her and see that she did not feel well. Yet the glass contained more of the fine champagne from the limousine. With shaking hands, she returned the goblet to the blurry table and feebly asked for water instead of champagne.
Someone handed her a cool towel, and deft fingers began to massage her neck. An orchestra started to play a 1940’s style big band sound with a swaying rhythm. Her vision was beginning to clear, but Luci was still extremely disoriented. She felt cotton mouthed. The requested water never came, and she found herself drinking more of the champagne. It could not help the way she felt, but it was better to drink it than to have such terrible thirst.
The music seeped into her mind, and enticed her toward the dance floor, though she still felt too woozy to stand unaided. Something soft caressed her cheek. It was the rose the limousine driver had given her.
From behind her someone leaned over her and used the rose to trace a velvety line down the center of her face, from her forehead, down the curve of her nose and lips. The petals felt blessedly cool and soft. Luci tilted her head back to try and see who held the rose, and then the soft petals continued to trace down her throat. With the backward tilt of her head, the room careened around her again.
At last her eyes focused and she saw full lips, slightly parted, and an intense pale gray gaze. Luci gasped when she realized it was not Tam who held the rose, but Yamata Orochi. He handed the strange silver edged rose to Luci.
There was something wrong in his presence there with her. He shouldn’t be there… or perhaps she shouldn’t be there… She wanted to protest. Yet her tongue felt thick in her mouth, and she could not manage to say anything.
Nearby a man in chef’s clothes sliced an enormous roast. Juice oozed from the beef as it was cut. The aroma wafted to Luci’s nose and her stomach protested violently.
Fear laced around her heart. The music grew louder, filling her head. She felt a tingle at the base of her skull. And suddenly the fear released her. Luci still felt disoriented and out of control. She was surprised to find the champagne goblet in her hand, but took another sip.
Luci knew something was very wrong. It still felt like though the room was tilted. Her body seemed to move independently of her will, doing things she did not expect.
She couldn’t think clearly. The nagging idea that she should be frightened persisted, but she held it at bay, unable to understand why she should be afraid. Briefly she wondered what had happened to Tam, but the thought evaporated as the music entreated her body to sway to its seductive rhythm.
Orochi reached down and took her hand, pulling her to her feet, spinning her as she rose. She was already dizzy, and fell into his arms. He smiled as if that was their private joke, and she realized she wanted to return the smile.
Her heels clicked on the cold marble of the dance floor. Until then she had not noticed the rich décor of the room. Crystal chandeliers cast a spectacle of prismatic light everywhere Luci looked. Fine linen tablecloths gleamed white in their light. Candles flickered on the tables, the flames lingering before her eyes and leaving trails in her vision even after she looked away. The scent of the rose filled her nostrils as the music filled her ears. She had heard of sensory deprivation, but what she experienced was the polar opposite — sensory overwhelm.
Orochi whispered words in a language she didn’t understand. He murmured the phrase again and again like a chant. Luci’s shoulders relaxed and she leaned closer to the sound of his voice. He caressed the side of her face, a finger drifting from her cheekbone to the line of her lips.
Her distress dissolved. Her confusion calmed. Luci relaxed as she gazed into his pale gray eyes. She wanted nothing more and nothing less — only to dance.
He twirled her out the length of his arm and she felt the cool smooth satin of the gown swirl around her legs. Then she spun back into his arms and Orochi lifted her up and held her suspended high above the whirling dance floor. When he finally lowered Luci to her feet, her body slid down the length of his muscled form.
At that moment Luci felt she could dance in his arms forever and never want to stop. It was like a wondrous dream from which she had no desire to wake.
Yet as she slid toward surrender to the marvelous sensations, something started to prod the back of her mind. Like a forgotten little pin it pricked her consciousness through a seam in the fabric of her dream-like state.
She realized that another instrument had been added to the orchestra. Luci could barely detect the difference, but her attention was drawn more and more to the new sound. Luci wished the sound would stop! It was causing her to feel headachy and irritated. She stumbled and Orochi caught her again, pulling her closer and smiling. She smiled uncertainly in return.
A shrill whistle sounded inside Tammarand Ben Taliesin’s ears. He gave his head a sharp shake. The sound continued. It set his nerves on edge. He popped one of the licorice flavored Jawbreakers called Black Balls into his mouth. A bit of candy usually helped him relax.
Already irritated by the whistling sound, he was annoyed with himself when he realized he had not set a time for the evening plans. Bodaway would just show up whenever he was so inclined if no appointment was set. However, Luci would want to know when to expect them. Women always did.
Her phone rang when he called the number, but neither Luci nor her answering machine picked up. Everybody had an answering system, didn’t they? He thought perhaps hers was broken. The shrill ringing in his ears did not subside.
With a sudden chill he put his finger in the rotary dial of the telephone and spun the numbers. The phone whined as in his haste he forced the dial on its return after each number.
In a moment Bodaway Thunder picked up at the other end. “What’s wrong?” the shaman asked before Tam even spoke.
“That whistling sound is in my head,” Tam grumbled around the candy, and Bodaway made a worried sound. “Where is Freyja?” Tam spat out the Jawbreaker and asked.
“She’s out keeping an eye on the new totem,” the shaman said after a minute hesitation, as if he had stopped to check.
A sigh of relief came from the sandy haired man’s lips, but the shrill whistle in his head still didn’t stop. He swallowed as he carefully formed his next question. One had to be specific where spirit animals were concerned.
“Just the totem?” he asked.
“Uh… yeah,” was the answer, but Bodaway’s tone changed, reflecting his quick concern. “You know she’s mainly focused on protecting another spirit animal.”
“Would she let you know if something was the matter with Luci?” Tam asked.
“Of course,” Bodaway said confidently. Then he added in an uneasy voice, “If Luci realized it.”
A clanging noise came across the telephone line. Bodaway had stood up and the short coiled cord to the receiver wasn’t long enough for the man’s height, so the phone swung up and off the table. Tam didn’t have to be in the room with his friend to know. He had seen it happen almost every time the shaman used the phone. Tam sighed, even more agitated.
“Oh crap,” Bodaway murmured. “Listen, don’t freak out,” he said, and of course Tam became even more worried. “But it felt like Freyja flew out closer to the kitten because Lychnis was really agitated,” the shaman said and Tam muttered curses.
“Get a grip, man,” Bodaway said gently and his voice had the calming affect that his particular form of magic tended to provide. “I could tell she decided the little totem was okay, despite being upset about something.”
“It’s not the stinking totem I’m worried about!” Tam snapped.
The sounds of things moving around came across the telephone line. Whatever Bodaway was doing, he was in such a hurry that he was in danger of demolishing his room. “I’ll be there as fast as I can,” the shaman said in an urgent tone.
“No way!” Tam responded. “For one thing I’m closer than you are. But more importantly, one of us needs to stay out of this, just in case…”
Tam twisted his finger in his ear, trying to make the sound go away. The only times he got that awful sound in his head was when some bad juju was about to mess with his life in a big way.
“Gordon Bennet! I wish it would stop,” he muttered.
When Tam arrived at Luci’s house, he saw the front door had long gouges ripping its length. He got out of his Cadillac with cold fear in his stomach. What could have done that kind of damage, and what might it have done to Luci?
Cautiously, Tam went up the steps. He heard a rumbling sound, and what was left of the door flew off its hinges. Tam threw up his arm as he was pelted with debris from the shattered door. Something rammed him in the ribs. When he fell backward, carried beyond the steps and to Luci’s walkway, the breath left his lungs in a whoosh. Starry spots danced before his eyes when his head dashed against the pavement.
Tam shook his head. He wasn’t might have blacked out for a moment. He rubbed his eyes and tried to focus. The first thing he looked upon was a pair of large golden eyes.
The fall had knocked the breath out of him. Tam had to push the lynx kit off his chest before he could pull air back into his lungs. He turned a disbelieving eye on the lynx. The feline was hardly kitten sized at that point.
Propping himself up onto one elbow, he noticed the shredded front of his leather jacket. Tam stumbled to his feet, still struggling to get sufficient air into his lungs. Lychnis stretched his neck to butt his head against Tam’s knee, as if in apology.
Tam stared at the feline in mute astonishment. The kit was a lot bigger than before.
Touching the sliced front of his favorite jacket, Tam frowned at the kitten. He shook his head and gave a shiver at the thought of what a powerful defender the lynx totem would be when he was full grown and had proper training.
“So you’ve been busy tearing your way through the front door, have you?” he said to the kit. “I don’t suppose you know where she’s gone?” he said, but didn’t expect an answer.
Luci’s Chevrolet Malibu stood in the driveway. A cold knot of fear formed in his stomach. This was bad. He was sure she hadn’t gone anywhere on foot. Plus the damage to the front door seemed like more than a lynx would do if he was simply bored or ticked off at being left alone.
He knew without looking that he wouldn’t find Luci in the bungalow. However, he made a quick search of the house anyway. He examined chewed up bits of the dress box. Even before he found the card, which he had no doubt had been written by Yamata Orochi, he knew Luci had been taken.
Tam felt completely outclassed by his opponent. In his distraction, he slipped on a sheet of tissue paper from the box. As he stumbled, he knocked down Grover Harper’s rowan walking staff where it stood against the wall.
Holding the staff he plopped down on the sofa. For a moment he sat absently examining runes that were carved into the staff.
How could things have gone so wrong so fast? In that moment he could have given up without a fight; the odds were stacked that greatly against them. Orochi was capable of unparalleled death and destruction. Tam was well aware of the fact that he was a much weaker mancer than Yamata Orochi.
Dejected, Tam moved outside and sank down on the front porch step. He caressed the wood of the walking stick as Lychnis scratched his back against the rowan tree from which it was cut.
Tam knew he was not strong enough to meet a sociopath like Orochi on his own level. Probably no one was. He had never thought of his own talents as more than average, ordinary. Tam would have to use something other than brute force.
Yamata Orochi had doubtlessly guarded himself against every imaginable form of attack, magical or mortal. But what about small things? What about things that were too ordinary and inconsequential to be a threat?
The lynx kit walked over and sat down, leaning against him. Tam continued to stare at the rowan tree. He felt an overwhelming need to be on the road, getting away from Nashville, driving across the country. Bodaway’s comment kept coming back to him. “We’ve got to get to the Mother.” Tam felt it too.
He gazed into the golden eyes of the lynx. Tam didn’t want to rely on intuition, but somehow he didn’t think Luci was very far away.
Ducking back through the shattered doorway, a few steps took him to the kitchen. He saw the new food container — or what was left of it. That had not been there on his previous visit. So he knew Luci had gone out to buy cat food and come back. It couldn’t have been long since she was taken.
The kitchen was a mess. The hungry totem had laid waste to the container. It was in several gnawed and slashed pieces. A multi-colored assortment of paper straws, Pixy Stix candy was scattered across the floor. However, he was sure that and the devastated front door was all the kitten’s handiwork. There had been no struggle. No one had been inside the house. That realization gave him renewed hope.
“I hope the kit has had enough lunch to tied ‘em over for a while,” he said with a raised eyebrow at the lynx, then he gave the rowan staff a twirl.
With the staff in hand he jumped from the front porch, running to the Caddy. Tam stopped in mid stride when he saw Lychnis pounce into the front seat of his Cadillac. “You better not be doing to my car seat what you did to me leather jacket, laddie,” he admonished the feline as he got into the driver’s seat.
Tam reached across and opened the glove compartment. He took out a pair of sunglasses with multi colored stripes across the lenses. Tam knew the rainbow shades shades weren’t much use in intense sunlight, but the sun wasn’t bright and the glasses always cheered him. It wouldn’t do to search for Luci without a positive attitude.
He took a deep breath. “Now how are we to find such a wee mouse in a big jungle like this?” he asked the oversized kitten.
Lychnis replied “Mer-rawr,” feline voice warbling oddly in its pitch.
Tam picked up his mobile telephone and called Bodaway. It was not very long before the big hawk, Freyja soared above the vintage red Cadillac.
“Yeah man, she’s here now,” Tam replied into the phone. “Do you think this’ll work?” Tam asked the shaman.
The answer he received was an indignant snort. “Freyja seems to have a sense of Luci now,” the shaman said. “Follow her as best you can, and keep talking to me. I’ll let you know when I get anything. Meanwhile keep an eye on the lynx totem. He’ll probably react when he gets close enough to Luci,” Bodaway said as a reminder.
With Lychnis at his side, Tam cut down the first of several unpaved roads. He seemed to know where to turn even before he came to the road.
Tam had a vague sense of Freyja that only a mancer blessed with a totem would understand. It had been a long time since a totem had been bonded to him. Tam stamped down on that painful memory. Hard.
“Focus on the present, Taliesin,” he muttered to himself. “And stay positive. Believe. That this time it will turn out fine.”
Neither the hawk nor the lynx was Tam’s totem, but having both of them focused along with him on finding Luci seemed to make a sort of circle. It created a vibe that he could feel in his heart. Intuition.
End Episode 13
Did all the comings and goings make you hungry? Scroll down for this weeks featured food item.
The food item mentioned in this installment was roast beef. Poor Luci, drugged and under some seriously bad mancer magic, did not react positively when she saw the chef slicing a large roast. However, under normal circumstances she would have loved it. So here’s a nice video recipe from FoodWishes.
Be sure to tune in next time for Episode 14. Tam, Freyja, and Lychnis are on the way! Will they actually try to confront the extremely powerful Yamata Orochi? Will Luci even be willing to leave his seductive spell? Come back to find out.
Until then, be groovy. Mega hugs!
Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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