Guitar Mancer — Episode 18: 66

1970 Ford Torino ad

1970 Ford Torino ad

Welcome back, everyone!  Last time my featured automobile was a 1965 Mustang.  This time I’m showcasing another Ford.  In 1970 the coveted Car of the Year award from Motor Trend magazine went to the Fort Torino.  I liked that the vintage advertisement above showed multiple views of the car.  Wow, back then a “bench seat” really was as long as a bench.  Here’s a groovy little commercial too.

Featured Blogger

Melissa at Today You Will Write has supported my blog for a long time.  She’s been so many places and done so many things across the world.  It’s no wonder she comes up with such wonderful writing prompts to encourage other writers.  Visit her blog and be inspired.

In honor of Melissa and her blog, the “thing” I added to this episode is wrote.

About This Episode

This “road trip” is actually on the road with mancers now.  Last time you saw Luci indulge in a flight of fancy as she pondered what effect the magic of the two mancers might have on their vehicles. Or was it?  Some things are just better left unsaid.  Leaving a small mystery for the reader to define is one of the things that I believe makes a good fantasy novel.

This episode serves to “ground” things after Luci’s whimsical thinking.  Just because there’s not a basilisk to defeat doesn’t mean you can let your guard down.  Pay attention and you’ll absorb things that enhance your involvement with the story later in the novel.  We’ll also find out a hint of what might lay ahead for Luci.  So buckle up, the vintage Cadillac is hitting the highway.

Episode 18 — 66

They took the Caddy through a series of turns and street changes with Tam still behind the wheel.  The radio played Anne Murray’s big hit, Snow Bird

Canada,” she thought groggily.  “That singer is from Canada and so was Gene MacLellan, who wrote the song.  I guess they know a lot about snow,” she finished the fuzzy thought with a shiver.

Luci was half asleep, but she was aware of Tam humming along with the song.  His humming made her feel comfortable.  She thought it was a homey thing to have someone hum, or even sing along with the radio.

Soon the song finished and Tam turned off the music.  They were looking to the west at downtown Chicago.  Luci saw a road sign stating “Begin Illinois Route 66.” Begin Route 66

“The Pacific Ocean is 2,448 miles from here.  With luck we’ll make it all the way there.  We need to travel the entire route to get all the mojo the Mother can give us,” Tam turned to Luci and said with a satisfied looking smile.  “Route 66 begins at its eastern terminus, Lake Shore Drive, that’s also US 41, and Jackson Boulevard.  To answer your question from a while back, this — Route 66 is the Mother Road,” he said with an affirming nod.

“What?” Luci asked, confused. 

None of that made any sense.  She blinked and sat up straighter in the Cadillac’s seat.  Lychnis was sound asleep in the back seat, using her quilt for a bed.

The Mother,” Tam said.  “You wanted to know who the Mother is,” he said reminding her and she nodded, more alert.  “The Mother is not a who.  It’s Route 66, the Mother Road.  Did you never wonder how a highway became so fabled?” he asked.  “Maybe not,” he said when he saw her confused expression.

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

 

“I know it’s historically important as a highway,” she began.  “But I don’t understand why it’s important for us.  Is there somewhere on 66 that we need to hide, or meet somebody, or get something?”

“Ah Wee Mouse,” he said with a wiggle of his eyebrows.  “You’re getting there.  There is something we need to get from the Mother.  People have loved to travel this route for decades.  And that’s because even a non-talent can tell there is something different about Route 66.  The Mother gives back to those who appreciate her.”

Luci was tired, sleepy, hungry, and rapidly losing patience.  “And you talk about Bodaway being cryptic,” she muttered.

With exaggerated patience Tam continued.  “If you know how, you can get a little something extra from the Mother Road.  A little extra mojo.  A mancer can get more than a little.  Plus, all along the route there are power nodes where you can pick up still more magic.  Once again that is, only if you know how.”

Luci brightened.  “Does Ochi know about this?” she asked, knowing she mispronounced the villain’s name.  She wasn’t sure if she did it to needle Tam or because it gave her a small amount of satisfaction to say the creep’s name the wrong way.

Johnny Depp Guitar hat

Johnny Depp as Yamata Orochi

 

“Not to correct you, but it’s Orochi.  Does he know?” Tam said with a smirk that made Luci think he appreciated her mispronunciation.  “Doubtful.  Very doubtful,” Tam said with a grin.  “Route 66 is a bit of Americana.  Mancers outside the USA usually haven’t heard of it.  And better still, he’d probably need the help of a shaman to make the most of what the Mother has to give.”

Tam navigated the vintage red Cadillac through the Chicago streets until they reached Grant Park.  The place was deserted.  The gray winter sky and naked trees made it seem desolate.  Luci pulled her light green parka closed, feeling a sudden chill.  However, it didn’t seem to have the same effect on her companion.  The sandy haired man perked up, and seemed downright energized.

“Don’t you feel anything?” he asked when she shivered and he saw the frown on her face.

“Uh yeah, I’m freezing my butt off. What happened to the heat?” she mumbled.

Tam adjusted a control knob on the dash and warmer air feathered its way to Luci.  The steady stream of gray exhaust from the city traffic had fouled the air, and Tam turned off the heat.  Luci figured he forgot to turn it back on again.

“You don’t feel the energy in this area?” he asked more specifically.

Pursing her lips and looking at him from the corner of her eye, Luci slowly shook her head negatively.

“Your mancer ability may be more deeply suppressed than I thought,” he murmured in a worried tone.  “This, Grant Park, is home to a classical music concert series.  They have it for ten weeks every year.  The ground has soaked up a lot of music over the years.  I thought you might be able to feel it,” he commented with a casual voice that Luci thought sounded forced.

Jean Shrimpton Look 1966

Jean Shrimpton as Luci Harper

 

She could tell that the fact that she couldn’t detect whatever “absorbed music” power he was talking about bothered Tam even though he tried not to show it.  She bit her lip, noticing that it had gotten chapped. 

Without looking at what she was doing, Luci fished in her purse until her fingers found a small tube of Chap Stick.  Their slogan “Don’t take your lips anywhere without it” ran through her head.  It gave her the bizarre image of putting a pair of lips into her purse and having none on her face.  At another time she might have laughed at the silliness of her thought, but Tam had a worried look in his eyes, even though he wasn’t letting on.

She blamed the rough cracked skin on her lips on the weather being cold and windy when they were looking for Lychnis.  Who or what was to be blamed for a magical ability being suppressed? 

After the frightening encounters with the basilisk and with Yamata Orocih, Luci couldn’t blame her father from wanting to prevent her from having a magical ability.  Unfortunately, she was beginning to think that the potential mancer power that put her at risk was also the only thing that might keep her alive. 

As Tam drove through the curving lanes of the park she saw pigeons foraging amid the fallen leaves.  Here and there a wino sat huddled on a bench.  The entire scene seemed bleak to her.  Tam however, started to whistle the B. J. Thomas song, “Hooked on a Feeling.”  Luci found her fingers tapping the beat on the armrest of the Caddy.

Tail-fin-Red-Cadillac_dreamstime_m_30410578

Rights purchased at Dreamstime

 

Tam looked at from the corner of his eyes and smiled.  “That’s as close to relaxed as I’ve seen you since the first moment I met you,” he said, turning his head toward her.  “You know, when you ran into me and dropped all your resume papers at Blaylock’s.”

With a blink Luci realized that she really did feel relaxed, and for no apparent reason.  It was similar yet different from the uplifted feeling she had when Bodaway Thunder play the makeshift drums of a Revere Ware pan and table knives in her kitchen.

“I didn’t run into you,” she said impishly.  “You’re the one who ran into me, and you knocked all my interview stuff out of my hands, making it fall all over the floor.”

Then Tam looked past her.  He leaned toward her and the passenger window as he stared, his expression suddenly cold.  However, his face cleared and he smiled an instant later.  “Over there,” he said inclining his head.

Jay Tavare jacket

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

 

When Luci turned, she saw the custom painted Vista Cruiser station wagon that belonged to Bodaway Thunder.  When she didn’t see the tall shaman she understood Tam’s abrupt frown.  She turned back to Tam so quickly that her hair flew into his face.  He drew back but she didn’t apologize.  Why should he lean so close to her in the first place?

“Where is Bodaway?” she asked in concern.

Then the shrill sound of Freyja’s cry from high above split the air.  Directly afterward she heard an answering whistle from beyond the station wagon.

“He’s here,” Tam said looking relieved.

***

The Mother Road

 

Fallen Leaves_1416150008328-6df19173a984

Photo credit:  Unsplash

A gnarled tree, its branches nude of leaves, seemed to hunch in upon itself.  Luci thought the tree looked like it tried to hide its nakedness.  The bare limbs of the hardwood trees trembled in the cold breeze.

 

The spot was off the beaten path.  Luci suspected that only someone who knew the park exceptionally well would be able to find it.

Dead leaves crunched as she walked to an old bench and sat down.  The cold from the stone seat went right through her pants.  She decided she needed to walk around and stretch.

Bodaway Thunder emerged from a narrow trail.

“Any luck?” Tam called to the shaman, who shook his head and sighed loudly.

“With what?” Luci wanted to know.

Hawk in Backyard Tree

Photo credit: Dreamstime

Freyja soared down and alighted on the luggage rack of the Vista Cruiser.  The big hawk tilted her head as if listening to something far away.  Then she gave a soft whistle and spread her wings.  Immediately it looked as if the sun went behind the clouds, though Luci could still see the watery looking orb in the winter sky.

“Is someone… listening?” Luci hesitantly asked the shaman.

The shaman’s expression became vacant for a moment as he faced the hawk.  “I think it’s more like someone searching,” Bodaway said softly.

After a moment Freyja lowered her wings and the sky brightened.  However the spirit animal looked quite alert.  Luci let out a relieved breath.

Lynx young dreamstime_m_26595511

Photo credit: Dreamstime

 

Lychnis moved over to the Vista Cruiser, pacing around the vehicle and meowing up at the hawk.  The lynx cub looked like he was trying to figure out how to get on top of the station wagon with the hawk.  Freyja made noises that were a combination of whistle and coo.  It seemed to soothe the oversized kitten.

Luci moved back to the stone bench and sat down.

Bodaway rummaged through the back of the station wagon, and emerged with a box containing an amateur, or ham radio.  He handed it to Tam.  We need to hook this up to your Caddy.  Car phones might not be reliable on the Mother Road, and I don’t want to risk having to depend on intuitive communication,” Bodaway said.

“Intuitive communication?” Luci pondered aloud, but was not heard, as Bodaway ducked into the back of the station wagon again.

The tall shaman came back with what looked like a green metal suitcase.  When he opened it, Luci saw that it was actually a camp stove.

“I’m sure you’d like to get back on the road, but I got cold out there, trying to commune with the Mother.  Besides, I need some coffee to clear my head,” Bodaway said as he lit the stove.

Luci moved closer to it to warm her hands.  As Bodaway moved his arms making the coffee, she smelled something she didn’t recognize.  “What’s that smell?” she asked curiously.

“Propane,” Tam said.  “Haven’t you ever done any camping, Wee Mouse?”

1960s Sanka coffee ad“Will you please stop calling me that?” she retorted impatiently.  “No, it’s not the propane.  It’s a sweet, sort of earthy smell,” she said.

“Oh!  I see what you mean,” Tam said with a joking leer.  “A sweet earthy smell.  I hear that peyote stuff smells that way,” he said and watched with a grin as Luci’s eyes slowly widened.

“This is not a joking matter,” Bodaway said in a stern voice that Luci had not heard him use before, but Tam looked unrepentant.  “The Mother is an elusive spirit.  She only makes herself known on her own terms.  An offering of sweet smoke helps.”

She turned to Tam when he snorted.  “Yeah, but who does it help?  The spirit or the smoker,” he teased with a crooked smile.

Bodaway’s only reply was a level stare.

“Alright,” Tam began and spread his hands.  “I know the ‘sweet smoke’ is a spiritual thing with you, a ritual.  I know you don’t use it for recreational purposes.”

Luci and Tam both studied Bodaway’s face.  Tam pursed his lips as if evaluating his friend.  Luci feared the two men would argue, but the tension between them was fleeting.  She gratefully took the cup of black coffee the shaman offered her.

“Well then?” Tam said after Bodaway pointedly poured himself a cup of steaming coffee without offering any to Tam.  He smirked when Tam picked up the coffee pot with a wry twist to his smile.

“Well what?” Bodaway said and Luci could tell he was trying to annoy the other man.

It was clearly all in fun, and Luci smiled at the two old friends.Maxwell House last drop ad

With a long suffering sigh Tam took a sip of the coffee.  “The spirit of the Mother Road; did you manage to commune with the Mother?” he asked with exaggerated patience.

“No,” Bodaway said as if that was all the answer his friend would expect. 

After a moment of Tam’s sputtering, Bodaway chuckled.  Then his smile faded.  “No.  I couldn’t connect with her.  I had a vague sense of her presence… but she wasn’t coming any closer.  We’ve barely begun the route.  Maybe she’ll be more cooperative when we’re farther down the Mother Road,” the shaman said.

“I don’t understand what you two are talking about, but I’ve got a feeling it’s important,” Luci expelled a frustrated breath and spoke in a sardonic tone.

Bodaway told Luci and Tam his suspicion about Luci’s suppressed mancer power.  “From the beginning I was concerned that your talent was more than just suppressed,” the tall shaman explained. 

“By now you’ve spent a significant amount of time in the presence of at least one mancer.  That alone should bring out a latent mancer,” Tam told her in agreement with Bodaway.

“I’ve suspected from the beginning, and now I’m sure,” Bodaway said as if delivering bad news.  “Luci, your talent is so deeply submerged that drastic measures will be needed to force it out.”

Luci didn’t see what all the fuss was about.  So what if she never became a magical musical woman?  She’d never been any kind of musician nor had she aspired to be one.  However, both men seemed to be taking this emerging mancer stuff awfully seriously.  She made a wry face and spread her hands, completely baffled.Jean Shrimpton houndstooth

The shaman’s shoulders sagged a little.  Luci figured he was hoping she’d grasp the situation with the scant explanation he’d already given.  However, she was not feeling enlightened at all.  He took a couple more sips of coffee and murmured appreciatively.  Bodaway flexed his broad shoulders and stretched his neck as if feeling more alert.

“Ordinarily I would say that we should play it safe and let the ability emerge on its own; if in fact it ever rose to the surface at all,” Bodaway said in a rather apologetic tone, though Luci couldn’t understand why he should express any regret.

“But under the circumstances Luci, you need everything you’ve got or are going to have to protect yourself,” Bodaway said in a tone so deeply serious that it sent a chill down her spine.

“That’s what they did with you, isn’t it?” Tam surprised Luci by asking the Apache.  “And it wound up making you butt-kickin’ strong as a mancer too!” Tam said.

Luci thought the friendship between the two men was carefree and casual, filled with the kind of wise cracks and rough joking that she’d often seen men and boys display in their comradery with one another.  However, when Tam made that comment, he did so with a combination of respect and awe that Luci had not seen him express before.

“Not exactly.  My power wasn’t nearly as deeply suppressed as Luci’s.  I’d call it more reluctant than suppressed,” Bodaway said.  “The ritual to commune with the Mother will be similar… but what happens once she’s in there will be unique.”Smoke Blue Horizontal

“In there?” Luci exclaimed.  “In where?  What do you mean?”

Bodaway made an apprehensive face.  When he looked at her again his brows knitted.  “A shaman must guide the mancer into a ritual where the Mother is summoned.  But that is the only part the shaman is allowed to play,” he explained in a regretful voice. 

“The Mother might simply grant what you ask, and bless your journey on the Mother Road,” Bodaway said.  “Or she may require you to meet one or more challenges, or ordeals.”

Bodaway took a deep breath before continuing.  “My biggest concern is that due to the nature of our flight.  And I say flight, because we’re basically running away — at least for the moment.  Because Luci has already fought for her life once, against the same person she’s now running away from,” Bodaway hesitated a moment as if forming his thoughts carefully.

He looked from Tam to Luci before continuing.  “I’m really afraid whatever challenges the Mother sets for you will be much harder,” he blurted out with a worried look at her.  “Luci has already faced highly emotional tests.  That will set the tone for the ordeal as well.  I’m afraid the Mother will present much more dangerous challenges than anything I had to overcome during my ordeal,” the shaman said.  “They might be violent.”

Guitar-blue-flame dreamstime_m_15806645

Rights purchased at Dreamstime

 

“Hold on a minute, man,” Tam exclaimed.  “Didn’t you nearly lose your arse when you went through this?  Didn’t you tell me about a couple of times that you nearly died?” Tam asked with his eyes bulging.  “And you’re saying Luci will have to contend with worse — much worse?” he finished and the pitch of his voice went up a full octave.

“The Mother can be cruel,” Bodaway said.  “Don’t be thinking all soft, warm, fuzzy motherhood.  The Mother is harsh reality.  I might be wrong.  I hope I’m wrong, but you both need to understand that it’s possible.”

“Oh, so you’re telling us the worst case scenario first, so that the most likely way sounds easier,” Tam accused.

Bodaway shook his head in an exasperated gesture.  He turned sad eyes on Luci before he continued.

“The Mother presents each ordeal.  She makes it unique to the mancer every time.  My big concern with this idea — and if either of you doesn’t want to go through with it, I understand, and will go by your wishes,” Bodaway said, probably to reassure Luci, but she thought Tam looked like he needed the reassurance more than she.

“It will be up to you, Luci.  The Mother might not even be willing to help you,” Bodaway told her.

Luci guessed that was supposed to be reassuring, but she wondered if the shaman had lost his mind.  She only had half an idea of what all that blah-blah was supposed to mean.Max Factor eye makeup ad 1969

She took a deep breath as she struggled to form the right question.  “So what you’re saying is that yes, I’m a mancer. But no, it’s buried so deep that it will probably never come out.  And oh wait!  There’s a way to force it out, but it’s full of all kinds of crazy spirit stuff that would probably get me killed.  Am I right?” she managed to ask before losing the last strand of patience she had.

Bodaway’s mouth twisted.  He was silent for several heartbeats.  “Yes,” he said flatly.

“Look,” Tam began reasonably.  “Regardless of whether it’s a good or bad thing to force Luci’s mancer ability to emerge, we still have to travel the Mother Road to soak up power.  Otherwise we have no hope of defending ourselves.  Besides, you’re right about one thing, shaman.  The choice is up to Luci.  There’s a lot for her to think about, and she can contemplate it while we travel.”

Lychnis gamboled over to the bench where Luci sat.  Abruptly the lynx sprang away.  In a flash he ran to a spot about 250 feet away, and then he sprang into the air and back down to pounce on something in a playful looking motion. 

It caused Luci to feel momentarily frantic when Lychnis ran.  However, he came right away when she called him.

“What was that all about?” she pondered aloud.

“A snack,” Bodaway replied.  “A lynx can hear a mouse from 250 feet away.”

“Oh my God!  He didn’t just— Oh that’s disgusting!” Luci moaned.

“A totem going through the rapid growth Lychnis has experienced has to have a lot of food,” the shaman explained.

Lynx car ad

 

Lychnis looked up at her with such soft affectionate eyes that she didn’t have the heart to scold him.  She put a dish of the kibble out and he gobbled it quickly.  Then he hopped up onto the bench beside her and began to purr.  It was the same sound that had pushed her to sleep that other time.

“He sensed your anxiety and means to calm you,” came Bodaway’s soft voice as if from very far away.

Luci felt so peaceful and sleepy that she was only vaguely aware of hearing Tam and Bodaway talking.

“Be straight with me, shaman.  You mean to force the mancer ability out of the lass and use her as a weapon?” she heard Tam ask.

“It’s a dire situation.  I don’t mean to put her at risk, but I don’t see any other choice,” Bodaway replied earning an angry nonverbal sound from Tam.

“What if something happens to us?” the shaman demanded.  “You realize that neither of us are likely to get out of this in one piece.  Yamata Orochi is that powerful!  If nothing else, Luci needs to be able to defend herself with every possible resource.”

That sounded bad, but Lychnis kept purring and somehow Luci didn’t really care.

“Yes, I have a bad feeling that the Mother might be especially harsh with Luci.  I don’t know why, but that’s what I get when I meditate.  So she might be at great risk.  There’s the chance that she might not live through the ordeals the Mother requires.  But you can be damn sure that she won’t live through another encounter with Yamata Orochi.”Susanoo slaying the Yamata no Orochi by Toyohara Chikanobu

***

End Episode 18

Well now, that ended on an ominous note…  Was Luci having a bad dream? I don’t think so.  I wonder if she’ll even remember that part after the soothing purr of Lychnis.  I wish she’d send the lynx to me.  Some really good sleep would be nice with this heat wave here.  Or even some of that good to the last drop coffee!

Recipe

Our characters have too much going on to worry about food.  Well okay… except for Lychnis, who is always hungry.  However, when Tam is stressed out, his sweet tooth takes over.  He was sure to have some sour balls with him for the road trip.  Candy might be kid stuff, but the recipe for this installment is strictly for kids over 21.

The Hiram Walker Sour Ball

Hiram Walker Sour Ball

Click over to  My Mom Used to Make That for the Hiram Walker Sour Ball cocktail recipe.  Cheers!

Until next time, stay groovy and mega hugs!

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

Guitar Mancer — Prologue Rewind

This Is a Rewind

Johnny Depp Guitar hat

Johnny Depp as Yamata Orochi — the Guitar Mancer

Hello everyone.  It seems like I only posted the first installment of The Guitar Mancer a moment ago.  However, when I realized we were coming up on episode 18, I saw that it has also been four months since this “road trip” started.  Plus, several new people have “gotten in the car.” So I thought it would be good to re-post the very beginning — the prologue where you are introduced to the story’s villain, Yamata Orochi.

One more update — Olga Núñez Miret, who was featured in the kickoff has just released a new story.  She calls it We Are Family.  For two days, the story is available for free!  Visit her blog or her Amazon author page for details about her books.  (Should you experience any issues, please try visiting via internet Explorer.  Chrome’s browser is being problematic at the moment.  Hopefully this will be resolved quickly.)


Guitar Mancer Cover final 05-04-2016

Welcome everyone!  I was in quite a state over whether the pace of this novel would bore the heck out of you when you’re used to the fast pace of my serial stories.  So on Wednesday I brought my anxiety here to this blog, and took a poll. Many thanks to all of you who voted!  I listed a few different options from which you could choose — you know I like to involve you in everything.  By a very large margin, the winner was for me to continue as I had planned and serialize my novel, The Guitar Mancer.

This Week’s Featured Blogger:  Olga Núñez Miret

Olga Núñez Miret

Did I say this new serial is an experiment? After collecting comments with “things” for a few days, I knew adding them to an existing story, rather than writing from scratch and flying by the seat of my pants would be even more difficult than expected.  However, I will add your “things” as best I can, and feature someone each week.

Robot Warning

This first installment of The Guitar Mancer is a prologue, and it is different from the rest of the story. The setting, is different, and it takes place at an unspecified point in time before the main story.  Also, I’m issuing a warning that this episode is longer than I expect the others will be, because I didn’t want to divide the prologue.  

Here’s a point of interest about this story. I’ve said that I brazenly mix the mythology of different cultures in a single story.  This time I’ve combined two rich mythologies of my own creation. But I also stirred in some legends from ancient Japan, for the bad guy.

The prologue is focused on the villain.  He’s got serious issues…  So it’s only fitting that author, translator, and psychiatrist, Olga Núñez Miret provided the “things” for this episode, the focus of which is my very messed up villain.  Too bad he didn’t turn to Olga for help!  I was delighted when Olga agreed to do this kickoff installment for this serial version of my novel, The Guitar Mancer.  

Featured Guest Information

Escaping Psychiatry beginningsNow about the featured blogger for the kickoff of this serial, Olga Núñez Miret.  Olga’s expertise in the psychiatric field is clear in her series “Escaping Psychiatry.”  You can learn more about her many books at her blog or her Amazon author page.

 One day, when I finish “Atonement in Bloom” I hope to have Olga translate both novels into Spanish. There is no one else I’d trust with the task.  You can learn more about Olga’s translation service at these links.  She talks about her translations on her blog. Click here and here.  Find out about some of the books she has translated here.

For the “interactive” aspect of this new serial, Olga provided, blueberry pancakes, Oklahoma (the musical), and the Apollo 11 moonwalk.  Be sure to read to the end for a link to some delicious pancakes!

As I warned, this installment is longer than the future episodes will be, but still fewer than 2,200 words.  Without further ado, we begin  The Guitar Mancer.

Prologue:  Guards

“Just don’t make any waves man,” Gowad drawled.

Gavur tried to be patient with his coworker.  The younger man had spent a year in the United States of America at a university before getting into some kind of trouble he wouldn’t discuss.  Gavur expected it was either about illegal drugs or the strange but irresistible blueberry pancakes about which the young guard spoke with longing.  .

He tried not to be annoyed by all the American slang the young man used, but it irritated him nonetheless.  It sounded disrespectful.  To Gavur, respect was the cornerstone of society, and it had been ingrained into his personality since he was old enough to walk.Desert Legion Alan Ladd

“I have to agree with you though,” Gowad added.  “He’s a frail old man; too feeble to hurt anybody.  Keeping him down there with no light or sound.  Sensory deprivation it’s called.  It’s inhumane.  How old is that codger anyway?  He looks like he’s about two hundred years old.  You ever got a look at him?” Gowad rattled off the words, immature, arrogant, and oblivious to the increasingly cross expression on his companion’s face.

Restraining the impulse to slap the younger man, Gavur took a deep calming breath.

“Elders are due respect,” Gavur said through clenched teeth.  “If that is his sentence, then the judgment was rendered with wisdom.  It is not for us to question.  But it grates against me to see an elder disrespected.”

“You’re right! We should stage a protest!  They have them in America at all the universities,” Gowad said excitedly.

The older guard expelled a sharp breath at the foolishness of youth.  “Such would get us killed,” he said.  “Besides, they are finally moving him up to the basement level cell.  It has a small grate to let in sunlight.  Too high to see outside, and too small for a window, but even that is an improvement.”

1957 Dauphin Co Prision PA

Dauphin County Prison, PA 1957

***

Gavur had been secretly fascinated by the mysterious prisoner for the entire twenty-five years he had worked as a guard.  He had only glimpsed the man once or twice, an impossibly ancient man who continued to exist through the long years, despite his living conditions and greatly advanced age.

When Gavur first began working as a guard, the wardens made sure none of the guards had regular contact with the ancient man.  Gavur realized they believed he had some kind of mystical power.  Their fear made it seem like his power must be something supernatural. It was as if they believed the ancient man could do something as impossible as man walking on the moon.  Though the Americans claimed to have done it, and showed puppet-like figures supposedly on the moon, Gavur disbelieved.

However, the old wardens were long gone, as were the facility owners.  They moved the old man in order to put political prisoners in the cells that were far below ground, where the darkest secrets were kept.  The new management didn’t remember to rotate the guards who dealt with him.Life to the Moon

Compelled by a fascination he didn’t bother trying to understand, Gavur maneuvered to bring the elderly man his meals each day.  When no one was paying attention, he talked to him through the small food slot.

One day Gavur found himself asking timidly through the slot, “Do you need anything?”

“Sticks,” the frail voice replied.  “Casting sticks for the Onymōdō, the divination.  It would comfort me greatly to be able to do this,” he said sounding fearful to hope for a kindness.

“I know someone who might be able to get such things, though they may not be exactly what you have in mind,” the guard told him, feeling inexplicably happy that he might be able to do something that pleased the ancient prisoner.

When he brought the divining sticks Gavur watched through the food slot as the elderly man stooped painfully to the floor.  Gavur tensed, at the stiff movement, because even that much was more than he expected such an old man to be able to do.  Then the ancient dropped the sticks, carefully looking at them as they landed.

After a moment Gavur murmured.  “What is it?”

“Luck?” the old voice rasped.  “No… something about a woman, and that is never lucky,” he said with a dry chuckle, encouraging the guard to laugh with him.  “A name I think, but it is foreign to me.  It seems to mean ‘light.’  Lucilla in the Latin, but I perceive a different language. (Remember this about “light” you will see related names and more throughout the story.)

Gavur chuckled, thinking the old man was still jovial.  “So have you predicted romance for yourself then?” he asked.

“Far better than romance,” the old man said as he straightened.  “Far better.”

***

Prison cell

Awhile after the old man had been in the cell with a grate that let in light and sound, a strange thing happened.  While the man had looked to be older than even a hundred years, after a week he looked closer to eighty.  He also looked less frail, and rheumy eyes were improved, no longer near to blindness.  Gavur was more fascinated than ever.  Did the old one hold the secret to eternal life?

Gavur carefully inserted the tray of food at the slot in the cell door.  Other guards would let the meal drop to the floor if the old man wasn’t quick enough to take the tray.  However, Gavur always waited for the frail man to take a secure hold on it.  Patience was a virtue that Gavur had learned well.  He spoke respectfully and cheerfully, telling the ancient one that the meal was ready.

He heard one soft footstep, and wondered if the man was waiting right beside the door.  Gavur knew he wasn’t able to cross the tiny room in a single step as a more virial man would.

“Thank you my son,” said a deep, strong voice that was barely familiar.

Gavur bent down to look through the food slot.  His hand went limp on the tray, but the prisoner had a firm grasp on it.  Gavur gasped in astonishment.  He had half convinced himself that the transformation of a centenarian to an eighty year-old was his imagination.  However, the man he now saw couldn’t be older than sixty — and he was a hale sixty at that.

With trembling hands Gavur put the key into the lock.  He had to convince himself that this was the same prisoner.  The man made no attempt to come closer when Gavur opened the cell door.  Rather, he sat calmly and thanked him for the food.  He invited the guard to sit and talk with him.  Gavur needed no further encouragement.  He felt he must learn everything he could from the amazing man.

The prisoner motioned toward the tray of food, as if excusing himself for eating in front of someone who was not eating.  Then in preparation to eat, he rolled back his loose sleeves revealing intricate snake tattoos

Gavur tried not to be obvious in looking at the tattoos.  He was awed by the artistry of the design and curious about how many snakes were depicted.  They seemed to twine up his arms and had multiple heads.  Some parts of the tattoo reached the old man’s neck.  Gavur thought it must cover both arms and possibly parts of his chest and back.yamata no orochi vintage

“There are eight,” the prisoner said as if he had plucked the question from Gavur’s mind.  “It is the Yamata no Orochi; the eight-branched giant snake,” he said in a voice that obliged Gavur to make eye contact as he spoke.

He gazed absently at the small rectangular grate near the ceiling.  As Gavur looked upon his face the old man’s rheumy eyes cleared.

“For countless years there was no light, no sound.  That was the only way they could contain me — complete sensory deprivation” he said as if deep in thought.  “Now there is light.  Soon my hearing was restored and there is also sound,” the man — Orochi said with a smile that made Gavur’s blood run cold.

“During the long decades many levels below underground my body grew old and frail.  Yet trickles of power reached me even below the surface,” he said and Gavur struggled to understand the strange things he was saying.  “It was barely enough to notice, but enough to keep me alive.”

Orochi touched his face.  Once it was cragged with hundreds of wrinkles, but half of them had smoothed away as if by magic. 

“Now that my senses are no longer deprived, my healing has accelerated,” he said in a satisfied tone. 

Boy Flute vintageStepping over and looking up at the small opening to the outside world, he stretched and put his fingers into the ring-like holes of the grate.  Orochi seemed to ignore the pain as the metal dug into his flesh.  Gavur was amazed to see him use just the strength in his fingers to pull himself upward so he could see out the opening.  That put his eyes at a level with the street.

Joyous laughter came unexpectedly from his mouth.  However, a line of concentration creased his brow and his smile faded.  Gavur maneuvered carefully to stand in a spot that provided an angle allowing him to see what the miraculous man watched.

Across the street, a boy sat playing a flute.  Gavur could hear it.  However, to the old man it made no sound.

He stared hard at the flute and talked about the air around it shimmering.  Orochi said he could see the patterns in the energy that separated him from the music.  A woman stopped and talked to the boy.  Then Orochi complained violently that the shimmer abruptly left the air.

“Just play, damn you!” he raged at the child who was too far away to know.  “It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad, or what faltering excuse for a tune you blow.  Just play!” Orochi cried though only Gavur could hear him.

As the boy and woman left his field of vision, Orochi said the air began to shimmer again.  He knew the boy was playing the flute.

He pressed his face against the grate, trying to see farther.  Orochi watched the spot where the boy had been long after blood trickled down his arm where the grate cut into his fingers.

***

Gavur returned for his shift the next morning.  In the distance he saw Gowad with his transistor radio.  It blared out a song from the American musical, “Oklahoma.”  He was unsure what to expect when he looked through the food slot, but the old man, Orochi, looked much as he had the evening before.  Gavur heard the man cry out in pain, and hurriedly unlocked the cell and went inside.

motorola pocket radioOrochi sat up, grabbing his head and fell from his lumpy cot.  He curled into a ball and writhed upon the floor as if agony burned in his brain.  Gradually the pain appeared to become less debilitating.

“It’s settled into a rhythmic sensation, but it makes my teeth vibrate inside my skull,” Orochi gasped.

The sound of footfalls neared the cell.  The closer the footsteps came, the worse his pain seemed to become.  Then the pain released Orochi so suddenly that his knees buckled.

His face relaxed.  His mouth dropped open in awe.  “I am no longer completely blocked from the source of power…  I hear music, just faintly,” Orochi whispered.  “I can touch the source of power!” he murmured in ecstasy.  “It ebbs, a mere trickle when compared to the raging flood of power I once commanded.  Yet that trickle is more than any but the most talented mancer will ever know.”

The young guard, Gowad, approached with a transistor radio plugged into his ears.  Gavur watched Orochi as he seemed to reach for the sound of the music.  It was as if he drew it into himself, but it left Orochi panting and weak with need, yet trembling with unspent power. 

Gowad was outside his cell door.  The force of the energy the old man created with that music snapped Gowad’s head back.  Gavur heard a muffled thud as the young man’s body fell to the floor.  The tiny plug was dislodged from the Gowad’s ear, and the sounds from the radio became louder. 

Gavur heard the disc jockey announce the “Oldies but Goodies Show” and Chuck Berry performing the American classic, Johnny B. Goode.  Then a wild riff of guitar music exploded from the transistor radio.

“What is this instrument? I have never before heard the instrument that helped free me.  It holds a greater potential to express pain than anything I have ever heard.  That pain shall be mine to command!” Orochi exclaimed.  “This music makes me yearn to share that pain with others,” he panted, causing Gavur to draw back fearfully.

“I must have the instrument.  I am still weak, obtaining an instrument that is well bonded to a mancer would restore me completely.  But even the instrument of a mere talent would help,” he said as if to himself.

Stepping outside his cell, Orochi bent to touch Gowad’s face.  “What was the instrument?” he demanded, and the incapacitated guard arched his back in agony as Orochi dredged the answer from the Gowad’s mind. 

“A strange concept for an instrument,” Orochi murmured.  “An electrical guitar?  Yet this electrified guitar invoked the power quite well.  Now, where do I find this place, Deep down Louisiana close to New-Or-Leans… among the evergreens?”

***

Johnny B. Goode

And with that wild guitar riff, the story shifts from the villain’s prologue to the main characters and their “current day” world of New Year’s Eve, 1969 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

As a thank you for taking time to visit and get to know The Guitar Mancer, here’s a recipe from Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen for some beautiful buttermilk pancakes.  You could easily add blueberries! 

I look forward to seeing you next time.  Have a groovy week and mega hugs!

Teagan sig

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

 

 

Guitar Mancer — Episode 17: Parting

1965 Mustang GT inside-out ad

1965 Mustang GT ad

Thanks for coming back to Teagan’s Books and this serialized version of my novel, The Guitar Mancer.

Featured Blogger

His Revenge John HowellBack when I asked everyone to leave “things” in the comments for me to work into this story, I was amazed by how many people mentioned various cars (hence me featuring a vintage auto with each episode). The Ford Mustang was mentioned more than any other car.  The Ford Motor Company did a very fun and funny ad campaign in the 1960s.  You can find some examples of the ads on my Pinterest board for The Guitar Mancer.  

Author and blogger John W. Howell was one of the readers to leave “things” for me.  In addition to a 1965 Ford Mustang,  John also left white tube socks, which I was able to use.

John has a fun blog he calls Fiction Favorites. He has a feature for each day of the week. John also writes exciting suspense novels.  You can learn about his books there, particularly The John Cannon Trilogy.  Currently His Revenge is getting rave reviews.  The third book is on the way. However, here’s a link to his Amazon Author Page as well.

About This Episode

Here’s a teensy-weensy hint about this episode.  You might even be able to see the whole movie here.  Do you remember this little car who had a mind of his own?

 

Episode 16 was eventful.  We learned that Freyja was protecting Lychnis from looking upon the deadly gaze of the basilisk. Then our heroes did away with the venomous serpent.  So what now?  Luci’s barely had a chance to catch her breath since mancers entered her life.

This time we pick up where we left with our heroes… but the group is about to change.

Episode 17 — Parting

Fallen Leaves_1416150008328-6df19173a984

Photo credit:  UnSplash

Every whisper of the wind in the fallen leaves seemed like a warning.  Each time she set one foot ahead of the other, Luci was afraid she might step on another of Yamata Orochi’s seeker snakes.

Eight, she murmured, uncertain whether she said it aloud.  There were supposed to be eight snakes.  The basilisk would have been the eighth.  Unless it didn’t count as a snake

Luci shuddered.  Then she glanced sheepishly at her companions.  She had no idea what their day-to-day life was like.  Did they do that kind of thing all the time?  Get drugged and kidnapped by a magic wielding psycho?  Find a giant poison serpent in the backseat of their car — and watch their car get blown to smithereens?  Have their pet carried away by a spirit animal?

She let out a trembling sigh and tried to collect her wits. Having gotten the over-sized kitten back, Luci wanted some kind of leash for Lychnis even though they were only walking back to her house The lynx might look fully grown, but he was still actually a baby.  She feared he’d run away after so much drama.  She even asked Tam if she could use his belt, but he just gave her a look that suggested she was being unreasonable.  However, Lychnis walked right at her side.  In fact, he was so close to her legs that she stumbled into him.Lynx car ad

The night had finally cleared.  There was enough moonlight that Tam turned off the flashlight as they neared her house.  Luci was startled when Bodaway abruptly made a motion with his hand.  Tam stopped and pulled Luci behind a tree.  Bodaway crouched beside a bush.  It was clear that he was listening for something.

A second later she heard the rumble of a loud motor.  In a moment Luci spotted the 1965 Ford Mustang as it passed by on the road.  She relaxed visibly.

“You recognize that car, Wee Mouse?” Tam asked, eyeing the expression on her face.

“Don’t call—” she began and made a frustrated noise.  “Yes.  That’s just Carl Crabtree sneaking out.”

Tam snorted.  “That’s some talent, if the lad can sneak anywhere with an engine that loud,” he commented.

“Their driveway is on a hill,” Luci said feeling very annoyed.  “Carl puts the Mustang in neutral and lets it roll downhill until he’s out of earshot.”1965 Mustang ad red

The tall shaman walked slightly ahead, with his long legs.  Luci noticed his bell-bottom jeans had gotten ripped.  The tear began at the hem and went halfway up to his knee.  White tube socks peeked over the top of his brogan boots. 

He looked skyward as Freyja flew in an increasingly smaller circle, using her hawk eyes to look for danger.  That made Luci feel somewhat better about the thought of snakes.

Both men were quiet as they all walked back to her bungalow.  Bodaway abruptly stopped and turned toward Tam and Luci.

“We’ve got to get back to the Mother,” Bodaway Thunder said.

There was that crazy comment again.  Luci wanted to ask what he meant.  However, Bodaway’s voice and manner had become reserved.  Luci hadn’t known the shaman long at all, but she didn’t think it was his usual personality.  Besides, she was exhausted and numbed by everything that had transpired in so short a time, so she didn’t speak.

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

Jay Tavare as Bodaway

“I need to leave right now,” he said, and started forward in ground eating strides.

Luci and Tam ran to keep up with him.  The shaman repeated that he had to leave right away.  His voice brooked no argument.  To Luci’s astonishment, Tam told Bodaway that they would all leave that night.

“What do you mean by leave?” she demanded, not appreciating a decision being made for her.

“You can’t very well stay here now.  Can you, Wee Mouse?” Tam replied and went right back to talking to Bodaway, despite her sputtered protest.

The shaman insisted that there was something he needed to do immediately.  Moreover, he had to do it alone.  So to Tam’s protest, Bodaway got into his custom painted Vista Cruiser.

“I know there’s no talking to you when you’ve made up your mind,” Tam said resignedly.  “May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back,” Tam began the old benediction, but hurriedly stepped away from the station wagon when Bodaway put it in gear.  “And try not to drive like a bat out of bloody Hell,” Tam called after his old friend as Bodaway sped into the night.

In silence they watched the tail lights of the station wagon as it traveled around a curve and out of sight.1970 Vista Cruiser

Tam took what seemed like a deep resigned breath, and then he hustled Luci into her home.  He barely gave her enough time to change out of the satin evening gown and stuff a few necessities into a bag.

Once again she felt the magical information overload, as she thought of the explanation Tam and Bodaway gave her about mancers and everything that was happening.

“Do I really need Q-tips and a paperback Romance?” she muttered as she looked at what she had packed in blind haste.  What was she thinking?  However, since they were already in the suitcase, she left them there.

While Tam bagged up some food for them, and everything she had for Lychnis, she ran to her closet and grabbed an armful of clothes.  She didn’t spend any time selecting what she pulled out of the closet.  However, she smirked when she anticipated the sandy haired man’s reaction, because she knew she’d still end up with everything matching.Dresses Quilt Luci

Mr. Blaylock, at the recording studio where she was supposed to start working in a few days, described the flamboyant women that attracted Tam.  Luci knew she wasn’t in the least like them.  Maybe she wasn’t even stylish in a high fashion way.  However, she liked pretty things.  She also knew how to put outfits together, and she did it without even thinking.

The thought of Matt Blaylock caused her to wonder if she’d still have a job when they got back.  With a helpless shrug, she glanced at her antique white metal bed.  It was topped with her favorite quilt.  Luci gave a quick caress to the pattern.  Each square featured a different little dress.  They were all the same general shape, but each quilt square was unique.

On the nightstand was a photograph of Luci and her father.  It was taken on her birthday just before she started taking classes for her associate degree at the business college.  Her dad gave her the Malibu for that birthday.  The Chevrolet wasn’t brand new, but it was only a couple years old at the time.  Luci thought of the burned out remains of the car Grover gave her.

James Garner white shirt

James Garner as Grover Harper

A deeply seeded fear that she was leaving everything in her home behind forever settled in the pit of her stomach.  On impulse she rolled up the quilt to take it with her.  After all, they should probably have some kind of blanket.  Right?

When Tam saw her with the bundled quilt he merely nodded.  He must have thought it was sensible.  However, he had not seen the top side with all the little dresses.

The comment Tam had made several times about “getting back to the mother,” kept coming back to Luci. 

“Does your mom live in Chicago?  Or family?” she asked him curiously.

“Huh?  My mum?” he returned a question rather than an answer.

“Well, you mentioned something about going to your mother,” Luci said.

“Oh that.  No, it’s not about that,” Tam said then changed the subject as if he didn’t have time for any explanations.  Luci had to admit that was probably true.

“Be sure to take a warm coat, a water repellent one if you have it,” Tam advised.  “This time of year Chicago is bitter cold and wet.”

Luci went to the coat closet next to the front door.  She pulled out her parka.  It was down filled, light green with a matching “fun fur” trimmed hood.  Then she remembered Tam’s torn leather jacket.  It wouldn’t be warm even if Lychnis hadn’t slashed it.

1950s US Military Parka

1950s US Military Parka

With quick strides she hurried into the kitchen and tossed the military coat to Tam.  He caught it with a surprised look on his face.

“Oh, I don’t really need anything,” he protested, but the way he glanced down at the torn front of his leather jacket and then to the coat displayed some doubt.

“Bitter cold and wet?” Luci reminded him of his own words.

He made a wry face.  “Point taken.  Thank you Wee Mouse,” he said.

“Don’t call me that!” Luci spat the words.

Had he smirked as she turned away?  She quickly looked over her shoulder, causing her hair to fly.  His pupils dilated for an instant, but he returned her gaze with one of complete innocence.

She checked the boarded up front door.  It seemed remarkably secure for the quick fix Bodaway said it was.  Luci, Tam, and Lychnis exited via the kitchen door.  Out of habit Luci gave the door knob an extra twist to make sure it was locked.  She took a deep breath as she looked from the remains of her Malibu and back at the kitchen door.  She hoped she would see her house again.

Jean Shrimpton houndstooth

Jean Shrimpton as Luci

***

Highway Hum

The tires of the 1959 Cadillac hummed at an odd pitch.  Luci supposed that was because it was a vintage vehicle.

“So are you awake, Wee Mouse?” Tam asked in a cheerful tone.

Luci was determined that if Tam wouldn’t let her share the driving she’d at least stay awake to keep him company.  However, she had been kidnaped and drugged, fled from a psycho-villain, and then found a basilisk in the backseat of her car.  After that, she’d been awake all night as they traveled.  Luci felt guilty that she dozed off — Tam went through the same things. 

Jean Shrimpton in car wind

Jean Shrimpton as Luci Harper

With a shake of her head, Luci tried to be alert.  However, she became focused on that sound the tires made.  Tam said something else and she muzzily realized that the unusual pitch of the tires humming exactly matched the timbre of his voice.

“Humph,” she muttered, not awake enough to process the thought that had just taken root in her mind.

“Don’t tell me you’re a grumpy riser,” Tam teased.  “Here, have a Pixie Stick.”

She didn’t know what real food the sandy haired man had packed, but apparently he brought all the candy.  He popped a sour ball candy into his mouth and mumbled around it.  She thought he was saying something about coffee, but it was hard to be sure.Love Bug poster 1968

A somewhat dated billboard for the movie about Herbie the Volkswagen Beetle “Love Bug” graced the roadside.  It had pictures of Dean Jones, Michele Lee, and Buddy Hackett.  Luci thought she and her two companions could almost be that trio in a cross country race. 

No, she thought, reconsidering.  Not really.  They were nothing like the characters in the Disney movie.  Besides, they weren’t even together in one car.  She felt a sudden pang of worry for Bodaway Thunder. 

She remembered hearing Tam say how as mancers, he and the shaman could also be targets for Yamata Orochi. 

He was seven feet tall, but he seemed like a kind and gentle soul.  Long ago Orochi stole that Onmōyji’s divination magic — so he might decide to go after the rare blend of shamantic and mancer magic Bodaway possessed.  Bodaway Thunder might be in more danger than anyone.

Johnny Depp smirk skull

Johnny Depp as Yamata Orochi

Luci looked over at Tam.  She needed to talk about her fear for Bodaway.  However, she knew Tam must be worried to death about him.  His face had been so pensive as he drove.  Luci was sure his sudden cheerfulness was an act.

Once again Luci offered to share the driving, but Tam refused.  They had gone from Nashville almost to Chicago.  

Another man with a stupid bad attitude about “women drivers,” Luci thought with a sigh. 

He had to be exhausted.  Luci tried to shrug off his determination to be macho She knew men tended to be a lot more possessive of their cars.  He probably didn’t want anyone else driving his baby.  Even though he had blown her baby car to bits, another part of her brain reminded her derisively.

Tam seemed to have such a rapport with the Cadillac that he sometimes talked to it almost as if he believed it could actually understand him. 

The man definitely has some quirks, Luci thought.  Although maybe she did too, because sometimes it seemed like the car actually did do what he wanted.  It was enough to make her wonder if the Cadillac and Vista Cruiser didn’t have minds of their own, similar to Herbie the Volkswagen. 

The boredom of the road opened her mind to speculation about the vehicles.  She believed the two men might have some kind of bond with the cars.  It seemed more and more like the Cadillac really did seem to respond to Tam’s words or touch.  Briefly she wondered if the Caddy, and probably Bodaway’s Vista Cruiser too, might be alive somehow.  Why not, if Herbie the Love Bug could have a mind of his own?  1959 Cadillac night

Mancers, Luci reminded herself and then she continued to speculate.  Perhaps the vehicles are not innately magic.  If the cars are alive somehow, could it be a byproduct of mancer power?  Could the cars have had enough magic used on them that it effected the nature of… of what they were?  What if a side-effect of exposure to power created something magical within the machines?

No,” she told herself.  “You’ve seen a lot of crazy magic stuff, but that doesn’t mean magic is everywhere and in everything.”

End Episode 17

***

Luci’s idle mussing is probably just the result of fatigue and highway hypnosis… Even so, you can’t help wondering if she might be right.  But I think we already have enough magic to understand without adding that to the mythology.  

Do long trips down the highway make you hungry?  What kind of hostess would I be if I didn’t offer you something to eat?

At first I didn’t think about “casting” this serialized version of The Guitar Mancer.  I saw my heroine, Luci, as a fashion hound, but not in the stereotypical snobbish way.  Anyhow, I was looking at 1960s fashions for inspiration, and I kept seeing photos of model Jean Shrimpton. Suddenly she was Luci.  Jean Shrimpton was affectionately nicknamed The Shrimp.  So in her honor, the food for this installment is, of course, shrimp.

Recipe

I always look first among the followers of Teagan’s Books for recipes.  I hit the shrimp jackpot at The Frugal Hausfrau.  I chose this one because it seems like something Luci and her dad, Grover, might have eaten.

Shrimp Po’ Boys & Cole Slaw

https://frugalhausfrau.com/2012/04/17/shrimp-po-boys/

Shrimp Po Boys

Next time, we’ll learn more about one mysterious phrase that you’ve seen several times — We’ve got to get back to the Mother…  Until then, stay groovy.  Mega hugs! 

I live for your comments.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating — your comments mean that much to me.  However, this weekend I’ve gone “unplugged.  So I’ve disabled the comments this one time.  I hope it in no way discourages you from leaving comments on the next episode.  Flower Power Heart

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

 

 

Guitar Mancer — Episode 16: Cherry-bomb

 

1960s Malibu Super Sport Coupe ad

Malibu Super Sport Coupe ad 1960s

Welcome back, everyone!  I realize many of you are taking vacations and holidays at this time of year.  I’m very happy that you’ve made The Guitar Mancer a part of your summertime reading.

Featured Blogger

Tales From the Garden Sally CroninThis time the road trip takes us to Ireland where author and blogger, Sally Cronin has recently moved from Spain to her new Emerald Isle home.  Sally has faithfully reblogged my serials since we became acquainted with the second “cookbook” of my Three Ingredients culinary mysteries. She’s one of the most generous people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Sally’s current book is Tales from the Garden and another volume of garden tales is on the way.  I could spend all day talking about her without doing justice, so I’ll just give you her links.

Learn more about Sally, her books, and her dynamic blog here:

Latest book: Tales From the Garden
http://moyhill.com/tales/
Blog : https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com
http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58
All books available in print and E-versions
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6
Amazon-https://www.amazon.com/author/sallycroninbooks
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/Sally_Cronin

About This Episode

In honor of Sally and her book, I’ve added garden as the “thing” for this installment.

Shall I give you a tiny clue about what’s coming up in this installment?  What? A music video was not much of a clue?  Well, read on…

Previously

In Episode 14, back at the ritzy big band themed club, our heroes narrowly escaped from the arch villain, Yamata Orochi.  During Episode 15 they hoped to regroup and figure out what to do next, but the unthinkable happened.  Magical spirit animal Freyja flew off with Lychnis!  Is the big hawk following a primal instinct and ready to make a meal of the rapidly growing baby lynx?  Not to mention all the patches of burned grass and the weasel smell…  

It’s “curiouser and curiouser” Alice.  So just get in the car!

Episode 16 — Cherry-bomb

The instant the shaman relaxed his grip Luci broke free.  He clearly didn’t expect her to run away.  She pelted toward her car.  Luci had the half formed idea that she’d drive around until she spotted the hawk.  Maybe she could get Lychnis back.  It was probably impossible, but she had to try.

She reached the Malibu.  Grover always had her keep a spare key under the floor mat.  Luci jumped into the car and ducked down to the floorboard to retrieve the key in one motion.  She could hear Bodaway and Tam shouting at her and yelling at one another too.  Their voices were a cacophony that she ignored.1965 Chevrolet Malibu ad

Quickly she had the key and sat up to put it in the ignition.  As she did so, a movement in the rearview mirror caught her eye.  Luci slowed reflexively to look into the mirror.  Large red slit-pupil eyes stared at her in the reflection.

It was a triangular shaped head with a pointy ridge that ran from the red eyes and back along the center.  Like a snake, she thought, but no snake had ever been so huge. 

In the millisecond it took her to have that thought, the giant serpent opened its mouth to display a green forked tongue and long fangs dripping with venom.  Then a crown-like crest flared out around its face and it took up the entire area of the mirror.

Tams voice reached her clearly.  “Don’t look at it!” he screamed.

1651 Lumen de lumine

Lumen de Lumine

Luci rolled out of the still open car door and onto the ground.  In a few long strides Bodaway was there ahead of Tam.  He picked up Luci with one arm.  Then the shaman kicked the car door closed and turned them both away from it in one motion.

In the background she heard Tam still yelling.  “Don’t look!  It’s a basilisk!  Don’t look at it!”

Basilisk?  Like the mythological serpent?  The one who could kill with its gaze?  “You’ve got to be kidding me,” she thought.

It was only human nature for her to try and turn to see what it was.  The fact that she was told not to look at it made the impulse that much stronger.  However, before she could stretch to see around Bodaway, he cupped one of his large hands around the back of her head and kept her from turning to look at the beast.

She heard a loud noise.  The basilisk tried to break out of the car.  There was a sound like a gunshot when the windshield cracked.  The glass didn’t shatter, but with another hit from the serpent’s head or tail it would.

Tam ran toward the car.  Oddly he was frantically singing the Johnny Cash song, “Ring of Fire.”

Bodaway Thunder shook his head wonderingly.  “Voice mancer,” he muttered in a bemused tone.

When Tam began to sing, Luci felt her hair stand on end.  She shivered uncontrollably.  A vibration seized her as it resonated in every pore of her skin. 

He held something in his hand that had a tiny flame that lit up the darkness around him.  Tam’s other hand shielded his eyes so that his only view was of the ground.  He pushed the little flaming ball into the Malibu’s tailpipe as he sang.

Tam shouted something at them and waved an arm in a downward motion at the ground. 

Jay Tavare_Bodaway Thunder_Smile

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

“Get down!” Tam cried and followed his own advice.  He leaped as far from the Chevrolet as he could and covered his head with his arms.

Bodaway, with Luci in his arms, took three giant strides and then went to the ground, shielding her with his body.

An instant before the shaman covered her, Luci had a glimpse of the Basilisk thrashing inside her car.  She was sure it would break free.

Her Malibu exploded in a ball of fire.  The hood blasted high into the air, but landed harmlessly a foot away from the bungalow’s back porch.

There was a sound of “splat, splat, splat,” as large chunks of serpent rained down around what used to be her car.  With a wet, squelching thud the head of the basilisk landed four feet away from them.  Lurid green venom oozed from its fangs, smoldering as it met the ground.

Bodaway got to his feet and made sure he was walking up behind the head of the basilisk.  “You got another one of those mancer enhanced cherry-bombs?” he asked Tam.  “Just in case?”

“Don’t you think that’s overkill?” Tam asked in a tone that suggested he was poking fun at the shaman.

Domhnall Gleeson Tam basilisk scene

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

“No,” Bodaway said flatly.

“Best stand clear,” Tam said.  “There’s no telling how much damage a single splattered drop of that venom could do,” he added.

A moment later there was a much smaller explosion which left the giant serpent’s head in unrecognizable bits.  Luci watched in stunned fascination as a chunk of basilisk flesh sailed over the fence and landed in the neighbor’s flower garden

Luci stood unsteadily.  Freyja gave a shrill cry that didn’t sound too far away.  “Lychnis!” Luci sobbed, tears running down her face.

She felt sick to her stomach at the thought of the big hawk carrying her kitten away.  It didn’t matter that he had grown at a supernaturally fast rate.  He had been tiny enough to fit in her hand a matter of hours before. 

Luci was also paralyzed by the shock of encountering a mythological basilisk, seeing it blown up — and her car with it. However, her grief for the kitten was the worst of all.

Bodaway walked toward the sound of Freyja’s screech.  Luci was half aware of hearing Tam say “Shh… Shh now.”  She felt his arm around her.

“Shush now.  Freyja didn’t scoop up the kit to have him for dinner,” Tam said, his accent thicker than usual.  “Shh, Wee Mouse.  It’s okay.  Freyja carried him to safety.  It’s her calling to protect, and she took the kit away before he could look upon the basilisk.”

The words surprised Luci enough that her sobs came to a hiccuping stop.  She looked up at Tam with black tear streaked mascara running down her face.

“You know, Wee Mouse, they make waterproof mascara nowadays,” he said in a playful tone.

Luci punched his arm.

***

Hawk in flight from below

The night had been a horrible emotional roller coaster.  Her pleasure at receiving the satin gown rolled into drug, and probably magic, induced confusion.  When Tam showed up and snapped her out of the biggest part of the haze, she was half panicked and then furious.  And the basilisk?  Really?  A giant mythological snake?  She was too incredulous to be afraid.  Well, almost anyway.

Worst of all was the devastation of her own misunderstanding as she watched Freyja snatch Lychnis and fly off with him.  And Luci knew the amusement park ride from Hell wasn’t over yet.  She did a pendulum swing from being shattered by the thought of what she would see when they found Lychnis to abruptly feeling numb.

Even though it was Luci’s neighborhood, Tam led the way.  She stumbled behind Tam, not even noticing when he took her hand.  When she finally realized the physical contact, she passed it off as him just trying to make sure she didn’t fall on her face and slow him down.  A more generous voice in the back of her mind whispered that maybe he meant to comfort her by holding her hand.  Whatever his intention, Luci was too numb for the gesture to feed the silent crush she had on Tammarand Ben Taliesin.  

Jean Shrimpton spider web

She hadn’t admitted to herself that she had any feelings for Tam.  She was only half aware of the thought.  However, it was one more thing than her overwrought mind could handle, so she shoved it into a mental corner.

Tam seemed to have a general idea of where the shaman had gone in search of the big hawk.  Luci had no idea where to start.  Oddly though, she did feel like their position was too low, like they should be looking down on things.  When she tried to imagine where Lychnis might be it was as if she looked from above.  It wasn’t anything she could describe, so she didn’t mention it.

A minor detail had been nagging at her.  “Tam, you were singing when you ran to my car with that souped-up cherry-bomb,” she began and then shook her head.  “Oh my God.  My poor car…” she said with the realization that her car was blown to smithereens.  Luci closed her eyes briefly.  “You were singing Ring of Fire.  Why in the world were you singing at a time like that?  Was it all fun and games to you?  Are you so happy go lucky that you weren’t worried about anything?” she asked.

Luci didn’t mean to sound hostile, or aggressive, or judgmental, and she was afraid Tam would take her question that way.  However, she needed to understand his odd behavior, and she didn’t know how else to ask.  She tried to soften the words with a smile, but her face wouldn’t cooperate.

He let go of her hand and looked at her.  He seemed to understand that she was sincere.  Tam took a deep breath.  She had the impression that he was looking for the best way to explain something complicated.

Oh no.  More magical information?  I’m already saturated, she thought as they walked through a large vacant lot, which was thick with trees and underbrush.

“You see Wee Mouse,” he started.

“Don’t call me that!” Luci snapped at him but she was too tired and too numb to be angry.1960s Hair Piece ad

Dead leaves crunched beneath their feet.  Luci dodged a briar that almost grabbed her disheveled gray satin evening gown.  The wiglet felt like it truly had come loose that time, so she pulled it out of her hair, earning an astonished expression from Tam.

She pointed wordlessly to an area that had fewer brambles and they shifted their path there.

“Like I was saying,” Tam replied giving her a long suffering look.  “Mancers can draw at least a little magic from any sort of music they hear.  We can get more power if we are holding an actual instrument,” he said glancing down at her to make sure she was following what he said.  “But every mancer has a gift instrument, a type of instrument that he — or she,” he added with emphasis as he looked at her, “can get the most magic from.”

“Bodaway’s gift instrument is the drums?” Luci asked remembering the wonderful sensations she felt when the shaman made music from a sauce pan and table knives.

“Exactly.  A few mancers have more than one gift instrument.  Bodaway Thunder is almost as powerful with a flute as with drums,” Tam said.  “Anywho,” he deliberately mispronounced the word.  “To answer your question… I was singing because voice is also an instrument to a mancer.  I admit it’s a little rare for a mancer to make much power with just the voice, but some of us can,” he said.

It surprised Luci that he sounded much less cocky than she would have expected him to be when stating that he had an ability that was rare among the already rare.  In fact, Tam sounded downright humble.  She studied his face for a moment wondering if she had misread a man who, attractive though he was, had seemed like a rakish hound dog.

Cherry Bomb package“I had to focus my thoughts to add some mojo to that little cherry-bomb, and to light the fuse.  I didn’t have a match handy.  Johnny Cash’s fine old song was the first thing that came to mind,” he told her.  “It didn’t really have to be a song about fire.  But I had to sing something, and Ring of Fire helped me focus on igniting a fire.”

A screech from Freyja told them they were in the right place.  Despite Tam’s reassurance that the big hawk had no intention of harming Lychnis, Luci looked up with a sense of dread.  Freyja soared down from a tall red cedar tree.  Bodaway Thunder was already there.  His totem alighted on the shaman’s outstretched arm. 

Luci stared up into the branches of the evergreen, trying in vain to see Lychnis.  The hawk made encouraging, cooing sounds toward the tree.

“What the devil is going on?” Tam asked his friend.

“She’s trying to get him to climb down,” Bodaway replied.

“Why didn’t Freyja just carry him back down?  She didn’t have any trouble flying away with the kit,” Tam asked in a puzzled voice.

“Mere-rawr!” came the feline voice from high up in the tree.

Luci’s heart lurched with relief.  “Lychnis!” she exclaimed and tears rolled down her cheeks.

“I’m not sure,” Bodaway said.  “She’s tried to tell me, but I haven’t understood.  Sometimes, with animals, definitions can be different.  But it feels like she’s afraid she’ll hurt him.  That’s what doesn’t make sense.  As a mancer’s totem, Freyja is stronger than a normal raptor of her size.  She could carry Lychnis easily enough,” Bodaway explained for Luci’s benefit.

Lynx car ad

Lynx vintage automotive ad

An odd expression settled on Tam’s face.  He wordlessly looked back in the direction of the bungalow where the charred scattered remains of the basilisk lay, then at the hawk, and finally at Bodaway.  When their eyes met, it was as if a copy of Tam’s expression transferred to the shaman’s face.  They both looked up into the high branches of the red cedar.

“What?” Luci demanded.  “And why would Freyja suddenly be afraid of hurting him?”

“Granted, it would be harder for Freyja to carry something down from that tree than it was for her to deposit it up there,” Bodaway commented uncertainly.

Luci placed her hands against the reddish brown tree trunk.  The bark was rough, thin, and fibrous beneath her fingers.  Looking up into the branches she saw a spot of varicolored tan fur.

“Kitten-ness?  Lychnis, are you okay?” she called up to the lynx.

She couldn’t get a clear look at him.  “Are you afraid to climb down, sweetheart?” she asked.

A plaintive “Mere-rawr!” answered her.

The sound of twigs breaking and scrabbling preceded a rain of dark green scaly needles, shreds of bark, and bits of twigs.  Luci bent her head down to keep it out of her eyes.  Instead everything landed in her already tousled hair.

More scrabbling and meowing ensued.  Freyja continued to make strange encouraging calls.  Luci risked an upward look, though tiny bits of debris continued to fall from above.  In a moment she saw a familiar short black-tipped tail.  And two really big back feet.

Frejya Red Tailed Hawk“It might be hard for Freyja to carry him—” Bodaway began.

“If he sensed so much danger that he had another sudden growth spurt,” Tam finished his friend’s sentence as the kitten came into view.

The tall shaman stepped over to the tree trunk.  Lychnis was soon within his reach and he got the kitten by the nap of his neck and his hindquarters.

Luci’s eyes bulged.  “Lychnis?” she exclaimed.

The night before he had been a very tiny kitten, maybe four weeks old.  That morning he looked more like a six month old kitten.  Granted, she had been drugged and bespelled, so the memory of anything to do with the private club and Yamata Orochi was hazy.  However, by the time she and Tam fled the scene, Lychnis was a good forty pounds.

Luci couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the lynx.  The kitten Bodaway held in his arms was as big as the neighbor’s Basset Hound, probably weighing close to sixty pounds.

“Lychnis?” Luci repeated in an awed whisper and looked at the two men somewhat accusingly.

Bodaway shook his head and held out a placating hand, as if denying any responsibility.  Tam made a rueful face and shrugged his shoulders and spread his hands.

“Didn’t I tell you that the size of a totem depended on his mancer’s need?  The kit knew you would in danger from the beginning, is my best guess…  And this is what happened,” Tam told her and shrugged again.

Luci moved to punch him in the arm, but he dodged just in time.

***

End Episode 16

If you are curious about what was going on in my mind and in my world when I wrote this segment in 2014, here’s a post where I mention it.

Recipe

That was a close call!  Did it leave you with an appetite?  None of the characters ate anything in this installment.  Unless you count the already dead basilisk and the cherry-bomb Tam shoved into its mouth… I’m going with cherries anyway!

Whenever possible I try to use a recipe from one of the marvelous chefs who leave comments here.  I had a hunch the gracious Gerlinde — The Sunny Cove Chef  would have a recipe involving cherries.  I was in luck when I found her Sour Cherry Jam. Of course it begins with the beautiful pitted cherries below. Guten appetit!

Gerlindes Pitted Cherries

Next time this road trip gets to the highway.  So here’s a little tune for the road. (I know it’s later than the timeline of the story, but I simply can’t resist him.)  Keep on truckin’ and mega hugs!

Neil Diamond — Cherry Cherry

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Guitar Mancer — Episode 15: Fog

1964 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser ad

1964 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser ad

It’s great to see you!  Thanks for coming back for another part of the road trip that is The Guitar Mancer.  Since “the shaman” returns to the story in this installment, I’m featuring another Vista Cruiser.  Here’s a little automotive look back.

An American non-fiction author, George Plimpton, became quite a celebrity. That’s him in the video ad above.  A popular TV show of the era, Laugh In, had a series of skits and the phrase Sock it to me! caught on.  It was so popular that even former President of the United States, Richard Nixon got in on the act.

 

Featured Re-Blogger

This time the road trip is taking a detour — to Scotland!  Adele Marie Park has faithfully been in the car for this adventure. There’s more about her here: http://www.adelemariepark.com/home.html   You can follow her on Twitter too.

Before I started serializing The Guitar Mancer I did a post asking for “things” to feature in the episodes. However, Adele wasn’t here then.  So because of her “handle” on her blog, Firefly465, I’m using Fireflies for Adele and a variant of “sock it to me (just because).

About This Episode

This installment of The Guitar Mancer picks up shortly after Tam, Luci, and Lychinis narrowly escaped from the clutches of our arch villain, Yamata Orochi.  All our heroes (including Bodaway on the car phone) were smart enough to realize that they weren’t strong enough to deal with the guitar mancer once he regains consciousness. They knew better than to try and take him prisoner. Besides, how would they explain things to the police? So they high-tailed it away from the ritzy private club.  They need to regroup, but there isn’t much time…

Episode 15 — Fog

Fog in trees mountains unsplash_52cd2d19237cd_1

Photo credit: UnSplash

Fog rolled in from the lake.  Moonlight shone on pale vapors that curled and tumbled from the shore and downhill into the trees.  Luci had always heard the phrase, but she had never before seen fog actually roll.

Fireflies flitted ahead of the mist, adding to her surreal feeling.  The tiny lights left trails in her vision, tracers. 

But wait.  It’s too cold for lightning bugs.  They’d never be out in January.  It must be the drug, she thought. 

Tam told her she’d been drugged.  Luci kept fading in and out of consciousness.  Each hairpin turn of the Cadillac brought her around, because it also caused her stomach to lurch violently.  She rolled down the window so the cold air could blow into her face.

The leather jacket she’d seen Tam wear was around her shoulders as she sat in the passenger seat of his vintage red Cadillac.  She noticed the front of the coat was badly torn and wondered how that had happened.

Jean Shrimpton in car wind

Jean Shrimpton as Luci

Lychnis lay draped across her lap.  The kitten had suddenly become too large to curl up in her lap.  She shook her head in amazement at his rapid growth.  Lychnis had been the size of a housecat when she left her house that evening.

He must weigh about forty pounds now… I really must have been drugged.  That’s impossible.  But it’s pretty far out too,” Luci thought.

The Cadillac’s headlights displayed less visibility in the increasing fog.  She tensed.  Foggy roads made her nervous.  Without realizing it, she gripped the armrest.  Tam glanced at her movement.  He didn’t say anything, but he hummed a snatch of song she didn’t recognize.

The lynx began to purr and Luci’s head started to clear.  That afternoon his purr seemed to encourage her to get badly needed sleep.  Conversely, at that moment the purring had something of a restorative effect on her.  Even so, she still felt muddled and her stomach was horribly upset.

The sound of three discordant notes caused Luci to look at Tam.  He had whistled the odd combination.

Domhnall Gleeson shadowed sweater

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

“What are you whistling?” she wanted to know.  “I know I’ve been less than half awake, but it seems like you keep whistling that odd sound.”

“Deer,” Tam replied as if that was an explanation.

Such an exasperated sound came from her mouth that Lychnis looked up at her curiously.

“Wee Mouse, I’m sure you know that there are a lot of deer in these woods.  The roads aren’t safe to drive at night if you’re going more than 25 miles an hour, with all the tight turns.  Add this fog to it, and not even that fast.  We’re traveling a lot faster than any 25 miles an hour,” he said with another quick glance at her.  “I sure don’t want to risk a deer jumping in front of us.  The out of tune notes are a touch of mancer mojo to warn the deer away.”

Luci made an appreciative sound despite herself.  She told him it was too bad that trick couldn’t be patented.  Auto accidents involving deer weren’t in the least unusual.  It was something about which Grover repeatedly cautioned her.

There were a hundred other questions she wanted to ask Tam, but her mind just wouldn’t form them.  She wasn’t clear enough to use critical thinking skills, not yet.

“I don’t know what kind of hoodoo you used back there, but you really socked it to him,” Tam said to Luci as the vintage Cadillac continued to speed down the narrow roads.

Laugh-In Cast 1968

Cast of Laugh-In 1968

That comment made her think of the Laugh-In television show, which had popularized the sock it to me phrase.  However, it also brought one clearly formed question to the forefront of her mind.

“I thought you said I was…” she began but hesitated because it was hard to match words to thoughts in her state.  “That I was one of you, a mancer,” she said with an unintended touch of accusation in her voice.

“Oh you are lass.  You surely are,” Tam said, briefly turning his green eyes to look at her.  “But that power hasn’t emerged yet,” he said.

A mumph sound came from her mouth.  She cleared her throat and tried again.  “But you said…” she let the words trail away — thinking about it was giving her a headache.

“I’m pretty good at pinpointing degrees and stages of talent and mancer power,” Tam said.  “And Bodaway Thunder is even better.  No, Wee Mouse, your mancer ability is still hiding under the blankets.  Whatever you used back there; well I’m not sure what it was,” he told her.  “I’ve never seen anything quite like it.  Maybe it’s related to your mancer abilities being suppressed for so long,” he told her in a speculative tone.

Tam’s eyes narrowed minutely as he glanced at her.  “Or maybe there was something stored up, somehow or other in that rowan staff.  I didn’t recognize any of the runes carved on it.  And what you did was so unexpected that I didn’t get a good look at how you did it.  Anyhow, it seemed like you directed your power through that staff.  But maybe the staff or the runes played a less passive part in it.  That bears looking into.”

She grunted an acknowledgement, and tried to get her eyes to focus better.  The trees were going by the window so fast, and one turn came so closely after the next that her stomach would probably have already emptied if there’d been much in it.

“I don’t have any idea how much… whatever you did will slow Orochi down.  Although, the whack on the head was a nice touch,” he added with a lopsided grin.  “But since I don’t know how close he’ll be behind us, we have no time to lose,” he said and pressed the gas pedal harder.Susanoo slaying the Yamata no Orochi by Toyohara Chikanobu

***

When they reached the bungalow Tam pulled the Caddy around behind the house.  The custom painted Vista Cruiser was already there.  The dome light in the station wagon came on briefly as Bodaway Thunder unfolded his long legs and stepped out of the vehicle.  There was enough light from the moon and stars for Luci to see the worried look on his face.

“I found some plywood and stuff in your garage to board up your front door,” Bodaway told Luci.

He seemed more subdued than he was before, almost sad, maybe afraid.  Luci didn’t know the shaman well enough to interpret the changed expression and tone of voice.

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

Bodaway looked at the gray satin evening gown that showed under Tam’s torn leather jacket.  Then his eyes went to her elaborate hairdo.  Luci reflexively put a hand to her hair, wondering if the wiglet had slipped out of place.  The shaman had an awkward seeming expression on his face.  He cleared his throat.

“It only took a minute.  But you will definitely be needing a new door,” he replied to her confused words of thanks.

Tam explained what Lychnis had done to the front door of the bungalow.  When Luci saw what was left of it, she felt woozy all over again.  She put her fingertips to her forehead and shook her aching head slowly.

Tam glanced at Bodaway Thunder then turned to face him with a puzzled expression on his face.  “What’s eatin’ you man?  I mean, besides the obvious — that we just tangled with Yamata Orochi,” Tam asked the shaman.

“I just keep thinking about those snakes,” Bodaway said in a distracted voice.  “They came from different directions.  They were progressively larger and more venomous, culminating in that big water moccasin that fortunately, became roadkill before it got here.”

“Yeah?  Go on,” Tam said sounding uneasy.

Luci got the impression that Tam was uneasy simply because he thought something was bothering the shaman.  She thought Tam must know the tall man to have reliable intuition.  If something worried Bodaway Thunder, then it became a concern to Tammarand Ben Taliesin as well.  So she was acutely interested in whatever might be a source of worry to both of them.

Instead, she surprised herself by abruptly asking about Tam’s unusual name.  “Why is it ‘Ben’ instead of Benjamin or Bennet or something?” she blurted out.  “Your middle name, I mean.”

Luci couldn’t believe she’d interrupted an important conversation like that.  She closed her mouth bashfully and blushed.  That drug must still be in my system, she decided.

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

“Huh?” Tam asked, looking startled, but to her surprise he answered her question.  “Ben shouldn’t be capitalized.  You know like the da in Leonardo da Vinci is lowercase?  But everybody gets it wrong, so I finally just let it be.”

Her eyebrows knitted.  Luci had heard of de, di, da, le, and la, but never ben.  She wanted to pursue the question, but with the combination of achy head and foggy head, she didn’t say anything.

“It’s just that I keep wondering what kind of snake the eighth one was,” Bodaway said as if the conversation had never been interrupted.

“Freyja hasn’t seen anything yet?” Tam asked of the hawk who perched on Bodaway’s outstretched arm.

The shaman shook his head negatively.  “I admit that I’m sort of relieved.  I started to worry that she would try to take on something too dangerous,” he said in a concerned voice.  “Freyja sometimes acts like she thinks she’s invincible.”

“You said she was your totem.  Doesn’t she take orders from you?” Luci asked, feeling a little uncertain of how sensitive or personal the subject of totems might be.

The shaman laughed.  “Freyja is more likely to try and give me the orders.  It’s not that kind of bond.  Each totem is unique, just as every mancer is an individual.  So every totem/mancer relationship is different.  Some totems are more biddable than others,” he explained and Luci thought she understood.Frejya Red Tailed Hawk

He gestured to the very large kitten standing beside Luci.  “Lychnis is too young for us to guess what his temperament will be.  But it seems obvious that his bond with you will be a strong one,” Bodaway said.  “However, his personality might turn out to be complacent or rebellious.  It’s just too soon to tell,” he said.

Looking into the sky and frowning, Bodaway expelled a breath.  Then his mouth quirked into a half smile.  “Freyja is not one to respond well to authority.  She’s sort of a rebel.  Sometimes she’ll do as I ask.  Other times she doesn’t even listen.  But if there is something I really need, Freyja would provide it if it was at all within her power.”

She raised one eyebrow when Tam wandered away in the middle of the conversation.  He retrieved a flashlight from his car and walked around the yard with it.  Every few steps he crouched down and sniffed.  He seemed more and more perturbed as he walked around the yard.  Bodaway noticed what Tam was doing as well.  The shaman held up his head and sniffed the air, much like a dog would.

“What’s that smell?  Weasel?” Bodaway asked.  “I haven’t seen any weasels around.  Have you had any problems with them, Luci?”

“We had a few moles earlier this year…” she began.  “What smell?” Luci asked, sniffing the air.  “Oh, that.  Ick,” Luci commented as she caught a whiff of a pungent, musky odor.

Tam abruptly turned to the shaman, raised his eyebrows and twisted his mouth in an expression that made it seem like he agreed but didn’t like it.

“What is it that smells like a weasel?” Tam asked in a tone that suggested he was dredging up an old memory.

When the two men’s eyes met they both looked suddenly alarmed.

Jean Shrimpton candle

Jean Shrimpton as Luci

“Lychnis!  Come back here,” Luci called after the over-sized gamboling kitten, distracted from the nonsensical comments of the two men.

The feline had also sniffed the air before he took off across the yard toward the place where Luci’s Malibu was parked.  He paused at a trail of burned grass and sniffed it.

“How did that happen,” Luci muttered upon seeing the long narrow scorched area.  “I’m sure it wasn’t like that this morning.”

Bodaway and Tam heard her.  Both of them looked at her wide eyed and ran toward her.

“If you see it, don’t look!” Tam yelled nonsense as he ran.

“What?” Luci asked incredulous.  “How can I not look if I see something?  And how can I see it if I don’t look?”

However, she didn’t get an answer because Freyja zoomed across the sky, screeching louder and more furiously than Luci had ever heard a bird call.

To her horror, the hawk swooped down and grabbed Lychnis and flew away with him.  His increased weight was nothing to the big spirit animal.

Luci started screaming.  Bodaway caught her in his arms and held her against his chest, muffling her screams.  He was too strong for her to struggle.

***

End Episode 15

Oh no!  Poor Luci.  Poor Lychnis!  Would Freyja really hurt the lynx kit?  Why fly off with him if she doesn’t mean to make a big meal of him?  And what is it that Tam doesn’t want Luci to look at?  He was yelling about it even before the over-sized hawk swooped in.  Be ready next weekend, when the vintage red Cadillac pulls up for the next installment of this road trip!

Don’t go away yet!  I always try to serve you either food or drink that relates to the episode.

Recipe:  Fresh Ginger Ale

If there had been a spare moment, somebody might have given Luci some ginger ale to settle her stomach.  So that’s what I’m serving you with this episode — homemade ginger ale!  I found a lovely recipe, with step-by-step photos from Katie at Under the Redwood Tree.   A frosty tall glass of it sure would be good about now!  Drop by and check out Katie’s charming blog. Glass of Ginger Ale

https://undertheredwoodtree.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/fresh-ginger-ale/

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

 

Atonement Tennessee

I don’t often do a mid-week post, especially when I’m having workweek that sends my mind to a medieval dungeon. Then the knightly Kev appeared on the scene with this wonderful review of my novel. “Atonement, Tennessee”… The courageous Kev slayed my sorcerer of negativity and banished the dragon of self-defeat when I read his words about my words. So enough of my words and on to his! Yes, please do read his review. But also treat yourself to exploring the rest of his website. Beyond this point there be… Kev!

KC BOOKS & MUSIC

25213788SYNOPSIS: Esmeralda Lawton is sick of the big city. “Ralda” was betrayed until trust became a theoretical concept. So it’s a dream come true when she buys an old estate, complete with historic cemetery. Okay, she isn’t excited about the cemetery, but she’s strangely drawn to the estate. Atonement, Tennessee, a quaint town, seems like the perfect place for her. However, her new life isn’t quiet.

The house is full of antiques. Some have extraordinary properties — a brass bed causes strange dreams, and a mirror shows the truth of who you are.

A mysterious neighbor secretly watches over the graveyard. There’s more to him than meets the eye, but what? Then there’s Gwydion, owner of Fae’s Flowers. She stubbornly resists her feelings for him.

Ralda suspects that people are drawn to Atonement to, well — atone. She wonders what sins led her there. However, her ancestress made the mistakes.

View original post 150 more words

Guitar Mancer — Episode 14: Beguine

1960 Lincoln Continental white ad

Lincoln Continental ad 1960

Welcome back everyone!  This time I thought I might engage in some shameless self-promotion and compare this story to one of my others.  I’m glad that I can say I’ve written a number of different novel-length stories (if you include my serials here).  They have different settings, concepts, and characters.  It’s my opinion that this one, The Guitar Mancer is especially unique.  Well, my intro idea fell flat — because The Guitar Mancer actually is singular.  I can’t think of a relevant way (for Episode 14) to compare this story to any of my others.  In a strange way that pleases me.  So I’ll just move along. 

Featured Re-Blogger TSRA reads Atonement

I’m absolutely honored that people consistently “get in the car” by re-blogging these installments of my novel. I sincerely appreciate all of you. So I’ve decided that, for a while, I’ll switch this segment from “Featured Blogger” to Featured Re-Blogger!

Breaking news from The Story Reading Ape — New Book!

Chris Graham (aka The Story Reading Ape) has long been one of the most loyal supporters of my blog and my novel, Atonement, Tennessee.  Not only does Chris support a multitude of other writers, he uses his blog as a platform for resources, book promos, and more.  Chris also does book covers and trailers.  Be sure to check out his blog.

Back when I asked everyone to leave comments with “things” to add to these installments, Chris/Ape mentioned his Naughty Chimpswashed the plates with their tongues.”  Believe it or not, this segment had the perfect place for me to add that as a thing.  The luxury automobile featured at the top of the page is also mentioned.

About This Episode

You already know The Guitar Mancer was originally an unfinished fantasy novel that I started in the 1990s.  Last time in a comment I mentioned that the sequence about the private club is one of the few untouched parts from that original.  When I wrote the original chapter (episodes 13 and 14) I had the old Cole Porter song, Begin the Beguine in my mind.  A beguine is actually a dance. 

In this video Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire do a tap dance to Begin the Beguine.  It’s a good deal different from the swaying rhythm of the Artie Shaw orchestra version I featured last time.  However, it is fitting for the “dance” Tam is about to do (so to speak).  Our hero is dancing as fast as he can too, as he tries to break the spell of drug enhanced mancer-magic Yamata Orochi cast on Luci.

This is another longer installment, but I hope you won’t even notice.  The vintage Cadillac is revved up now!  So just get in the car!  It’s ready to pick up this road trip where we left off with Episode 13.  Freyja provided aerial guidance as Tam (with Lychnis in the seat next to him) drove the vintage red Cadillac in search of Luci.

Episode 14 — Beguine

Full Moon Rising

The golden light of evening reluctantly gave way to twilight.  Tammarand Ben Taliesin flexed his hands.  They had been clinched in a death grip around the steering wheel.

What was it people said — cold hands mean a warm heart?  The thought flashed across Tam’s mind.  He had known his hands were like ice before it occurred to him to turn on the heater in his pristine 1959 Cadillac.  Splashing through a mud puddle would ordinarily have made him curse, but he drove through three of them without noticing.  Such was his determination. 

The windows were rolled up, to discourage the kit from jumping out of the car, but the top was down.  Tam needed to be able to see the sky.  However, there were enough evergreens lining the narrow road that it wasn’t always possible.

Cold wind blew through his sandy hair.  His breath froze as he exhaled.  The Caddy’s heater blasted out warm air, but it was January and with the convertible top down, it was bound to be cold. Hawk in flight from below

With occasional glimpses of Freyja, the big red tailed hawk flying above and that totem enhanced intuition, his route took them through wooded lanes up to Old Hickory Lake.  Tam had a hunch that the dirt and gravel roads were leading them by a back way to a little-known, exclusive area on the shores of the lake. 

A shrill cry caused him to look up again.  That was why he had the top down — so he might see the hawk.  Rounding a bend, he saw a tiki torch that marked a dirt road.  It had been years since he’d been with that crowd, but he remembered the torch marking the turn.

Domhnall Gleeson outside

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

After a time the only sounds were the hum of the Caddy’s engine and a soft growl the lynx totem had started to utter under his breath.  Tam glanced at Lychnis curiously and somewhat expectantly, but the kitten made no other move. 

Once again Tam looked skyward but in the dimming light it was hard to spot Freyja.  A few stars winked to life as the sky shifted to a darker blue. 

Lychnis looked up at the full moon and gave a guttural sound.  A lynx didn’t roar like a lion, but the sound was a far cry from the mew of a kitten.  It caused Tammarand to jump half out of his skin.

“Why your voice is changing, kit!” he told the totem with a grin.

Lychnis did in fact seem rather pleased with himself.  Though, he looked a bit puzzled by the change in his meow.

Tam couldn’t see Freyja, but the big hawk gave a loud piercing cry.  He slammed on the breaks, causing the Cadillac to fishtail on the dirt and gravel road.  In the rearview mirror Tam saw the driveway he had just missed.

“I can’t tell if that’s the turn or not,” he muttered to Lychnis.  “It should’ve been marked with one of those party torches if it’s the place I expected.  People are always saying I jump to conclusions…  Maybe Freyja is taking us to a place I don’t know about.”

The anxious feeling of being woefully insufficient for the task at hand flooded back to Tam’s mind.  He dug in his jacket pocket and found a piece of hard candy, which he popped into his mouth.  He took a deep breath to steady himself.  As he looked around to get his bearings, he spotted the tiki torch.  It had been knocked almost to the ground, and the flame had gone out.  Tam smiled and turned onto the long driveway.

1959 Cadillac nightAfter traveling half the length of the driveway, he turned off the Cadillac’s engine.  In the silence Tam could hear the water lap against the shores of Old Hickory Lake.  Then he heard faint strains of music.

Listening closely, Tam felt traces of spells hidden in the music that drifted out to the road.  It was mancer magic.  He pulled the Caddy behind some concealing cedar trees.  With the rowan staff in hand, he headed up the driveway on foot.  Lychnis padded quietly alongside.

Moonlight reflected patterns on the lake.  Tam looked from the lake to the expensive cars that lined the parking area.  A long and luxurious Lincoln Mark IV sat beside a Mercedes-Benz 280SE, a Corvette, and those were just the first statements of wealth he saw parked outside the private club.

Chauffeur_Downton Abbey Branson

Allen Leech

Some limousines also waited, the bored drivers passing the time in idle conversation.  One voice had the accent of a very far away land.  It wasn’t from any part of the USA or even Europe.

Admission to the club was by invitation only.  Tam had been there once.  After a moment spent looking around and remembering the layout of the place, he crept toward the kitchen.

Abruptly Tam realized that Lychnis had vanished.  He muttered a curse that would have had any grandmother scrubbing out his mouth with soap.  He took a deep breath.  He’d have to rely on Freyja to keep a hawk’s eye on her fellow spirit animal.

Tam whistled a few notes, casting a spell of disinterest around himself.  It had been useful for exiting concert venues to escape groupies when he had toured with bands.  He figured it would work as well in his current situation.

The kitchen door was ajar.  The expected sounds of pots and dishes met Tam’s ears.  He gently opened the door a little wider and the mingled aromas of different dishes being prepared tickled his nose.  He patted and shushed his stomach when it growled.

Acting as if he belonged, Tam stepped into the kitchen.  The room bustled with busy cooks and various other workers.  He walked purposefully across the kitchen. 

No one had noticed him as he reached the hallway.  He could hear the sounds of someone gargling from the men’s room.  At the doorway to the ballroom, he passed a busboy without incident.

An orchestra played big band style music.  Tam could easily feel a mancer’s support being leant to the musicians, making slight alterations to their music unbeknownst to them.

Glen Miller Orchestra

Glen Miller Orchestra

He looked at the ballroom from the concealment of the doorway.  First he looked among the tables and then he shifted his gaze to the dance floor.  Finally he spotted Luci, though he hardly recognized her.

Tam liked Luci the moment he collided with her at Blaylock’s studio.  That was why he teased her by calling her Wee Mouse.  He thought her shyness charming.  After getting to know her, he felt a genuine friendship for Luci.

For a surprised moment Tam stood just looking at her.  Luci wore a sophisticated gown of beading and satin.  She’d put her hair up in an intricate style.  Suddenly his adorably shy little mouse had become beautiful and dazzling woman.

Jean Shrimpton spider web

Jean Shrimpton as Luci

“Wee Mouse,” he whispered to himself in astonishment.  “I didn’t know you could be so glamorous.”

She truly was beautiful.  Beautiful and fragile, he thought.  Luci’s face was deathly pale.

The man Luci danced with wore a tuxedo so his arms were covered.  It didn’t matter.  Even without seeing the tattoos, Tam knew him for Yamata Orochi. 

What Tam didn’t expect was the sudden ball of fear that dropped into his stomach.  Luci seemed very breakable as she danced in the arms of the evil sociopath.

Tam smirked when he realized that if Luci could hear his thought about her looking so fragile that she would either throw something at him or punch him in the arm.  He could tell that Luci didn’t think of herself as some delicate little flower.

Then he noticed the unfocused glaze of her eyes.  She stumbled.  Tam muttered a curse.  He was certain she had been drugged.  That was unexpected.  A mancer as powerful and egotistical as Orochi using drugs as a crutch for his magic?

Even so, it gave Tam a sense of hope.  Whatever had caused Yamata Orochi to rely on drugs, rather than on his mancer power alone might be helpful to Tam.  Just as the drug made it easier for Orochi’s magic to control Luci, she might also be freed from the renegade mancer’s spells with less difficulty in her intoxicated state.

Davis de Havilland

Davis, de Havilland

Tentatively he reached with his mind to feel the spell around Luci.  It wasn’t that strong.  Tam was sure he could break it.  However, if he broke Orochi’s spell, he would be detected immediately.  They’d both be slaughtered before they could even get out of the club.

Tam eased back to the doorway.  He wanted to understand his opponent’s reasoning for using the combination of drugs and spells, when he commanded so much power.  Tam sorted his frantic thoughts into different mental boxes.

Was Orochi overconfident and lazy?  Were his powers not yet fully restored?  Or had he laid a trap with the weak spell as a lure for other mancers, and Luci as the bait to draw them.

How likely was it that Orochi knew there were other mancers in the area?  Tam wondered.  Would his powers of divination show him?  Maybe he had spies, like a whole network of humans doing his bidding, Tam thought.  That was how Yamata Orochi had operated long ago. 

What was the psycho really doing?  Tam could only guess.  Look at yourself, boyo.  You’re trying so hard not to “jump to conclusions” that you’re over-thinking everything! Tam told himself.

Then he saw the self-satisfied expression on the rogue mancer’s face.  Judging by what Tam knew of the maniac’s ego and modis operandi, Orochi was probably toying with Luci.  Everything was a game to a nut job like him.  Contempt filled Tam’s heart.  Orochi would enjoy Luci’s fight to break free of his hold.

Johnny Depp Italian Job 2010

Johnny Depp as Yamata Orochi

“Playing with his food before he eats it,” Tam hissed under his breath.

That made him think of Lychnis.  Luci would have his hide if anything happened to the kit.  He wondered what kind of trouble the immature totem might find for himself.  It caused Tam no small amount of concern.  However, the clear and present danger was to Luci.

“There’s naught I can do about the kit right now.  Hopefully he’ll act with common sense,” he muttered.

Backing up a step, Tam collided with a musician who was leaving the restroom.  He was sure it was the man he’d heard gargling earlier.  Tam also noted that the man was dressed like the musicians on stage.

“Pardon me,” Tam apologized for bumping into the man.

There was no way the disinterest spell Tam put on himself would hide him when he had literally ran into someone.  The man glanced at the torn front of Tam’s leather jacket.  His presence would certainly be questioned if his now shabby coat was noticed.

When the musician returned the apology in a very scratchy voice an idea came to Tam.  The mancer raised his eyebrows and whistled a string of notes.

“Not feeling so well, are you lad?” Tam asked the musician.  “Why don’t I take over for you so you can go home and take care of that throat?  I don’t mind covering for you this once,” Tam told him.

Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman

For a moment the man looked puzzled.  Tam whistled a few more notes and saw the faint aura of mancer power attached to the sound drift toward the musician.  Then the man’s expression changed to one of relief and gratitude.

“I’ll be needing to borrow your instrument,” Tam added as an afterthought.  “What is it you play anyhow?” the mancer asked though it didn’t really matter — Tam could play almost any musical instrument.

Tam went onto the stage with the musicians, wearing a borrowed jacket and carrying a clarinet, with the rowan staff tucked inconspicuously at his side.  Tam hummed a little tune as he seated himself.  No one mistook him for the musician he replaced.  However, with a bit of Tam’s power influencing them, they simply didn’t care.

He didn’t dare use more than a scant trace of the power in Orochi’s presence for fear that the rogue mancer would detect it.  Hopefully Orochi was preoccupied with the deadly game he played with Luci.

Putting the clarinet to his lips, Tam played a few bars of the melody the band performed.  He focused his thoughts and intent on Luci.  She didn’t look as bad as she had earlier.  Tam hoped the drug was beginning to wear off.

Emboldened by her improvement, Tam gradually eased what he played into a complementing countermelody.  He played so quietly that his notes could barely be heard.  However the soft notes drifted to Luci, easing around the edges of the spell cast by Yamata Orochi.

From the corner of his eye, Tam kept a careful watch on Orochi, fearing detection.  Orochi did not appear to notice the presence of the small amount of power Tam used.Domhnall Gleeson suit

His hands shook a little as he nervously added more power to the thread of mancer magic.  Tam continually twisted the spell, making it become an irritant to Luci.  He hoped it would prick at her until she was so generally annoyed that it caused her to shake off the dissipating effects of the drug.

If she could recover from the effects of the drug, Luci was more than strong enough to break the light spell Orochi put on her.  Tam was sure of it.

As the musicians played the big band tune, Tam continued to play the countermelody.  He saw Luci begin to shift uncomfortably in Yamata Orochi’s arms while they danced.  She stumbled over her own feet and dropped the rose she carried.  Orochi let go of her to retrieve the rose and Luci’s eyes immediately cleared.

Tam filled himself with power.  He was ready.  Luci took a wobbling step back from Orochi.  So Tam ceased the opportunity and cast a magical wall, a shield between Luci and Orochi.

Tam’s wall sizzled and disintegrated at Yamata Orochi’s touch.  Yet the shield held long enough for Luci to finish freeing herself of the renegade’s influence.  However, Luci moved awkwardly, as if some of the drug was still in her system.

Orochi stepped toward Luci, ignoring the sound of a waiter’s tray crashing somewhere behind him.  He grabbed for Luci’s wrist.  She eluded his grasp, but Tam thought she looked woozy.

Russian Caviar ad vintage

Vintage caviar ad

Luci stumbled and fell backward, pulling the tablecloth and all the dishes to the floor with her.  A dish of caviar landed inches away from her.  Remarkably most of the expensive contents stayed in the silver plate.

Tam’s attention was locked on Luci as she gazed blankly at the plate of caviar.  He wondered if Luci’s fall and the distraction of the contents of the table tumbling to the floor was enough.  Would it be enough to divert Orochi if Tam used just a wee bit of power?

“You’re a voice mancer,” Tam reminded himself.  “A mancer whisper should be enough.”  With his intent completely focused on Luci he directed a thread of power.  “Snakes,” he whispered the single word.

As Luci beheld the caviar she gasped and drew back.  “It looks like tiny eyes… eyes watching me,” she said thickly.  “Why do I feel like I should remember snakes?” she murmured in a voice Tam could barely hear.

Luci shook her head as if lucidity struggled to come back to her mind.  Unfortunately, Yamata Orochi spoke her name.  At the sound of his voice, her expression dulled.  Tam could imagine the fog of Orochi’s spell rolled back into Luci’s mind just as she was about to break free.

The carving chef screamed when something large and furry grabbed the slice of roast he had just cut.  Orochi turned in the direction of the scream.  Suddenly the villain was rammed in the chest by the full force of Lychnis making a running pounce.

It was evident that the kitten had grown again in the short time that Tam was separated from him.  At a glance, Tam thought the lynx weighed about forty pounds.  The impact of that furry bullet slamming straight into Orochi’s chest knocked him backward so hard that he landed with an “Oof.”Lynx young dreamstime_m_26595511

The totem was too young to have developed his defensive instinct to the point of killing an attacker.  He only followed his bonded need to be near and his mancer.  After knocking down Yamata Orochi, the lynx stopped to stand directly over Luci where she had fallen.

“Kitten-ness?” she choked out in astonishment at the ever growing lynx cub.

The oversized kit leaned toward the dish of caviar without budging from his protective stance over his mancer.  Lychnis washed the plate clean with his tongue, as Luci continued to gape at him.

People milled around the ballroom in uncertainty and fear.  Tam played notes on the clarinet that enhanced the agitated response of the crowd.  The people became completely unsure of what they should be doing.

His eyes locked with the pale heartless gaze of Yamata Orochi.  Tam didn’t have to feel the power Orochi gathered in that instant.  It was so strong he could see the mancer magic.  The power built with sickening green light all around Orochi.

Tam hoped that Orochi was not foolish enough to waste that kind of energy by accidentally hitting the wrong target.  So Tam used all the people moving around, to make sure there was no clear path between himself and the renegade mancer.

With a glance at Luci, Yamata Orochi moved his focus away from Tam.  To Tammarand’s surprised, Orochi used part of the power he had leashed to drive a shield between Luci and Lychnis.

1960s Bellas Hess formal wear adTam ran, blowing the clarinet as he went.  His music encouraged a woman to grab the arm of a busboy, causing him to spill a tray that held an untouched bowl of soup.  The soup splashed across the floor at Orochi’s feet and he slipped, just as he hurled a bolt of energy at Tam.  The wild shot shattered a chandelier, which rained bits of glass onto the already frightened crowd.

Lychnis let loose a piteous wail, having been separated from Luci by the magical shield.  He had developed a powerful voice and that sent the fear level of the people to full-on panic.

As Yamata Orochi struggled to his feet on the soup slickened marble floor, a portly man and woman who hastily made for the door slid in the same soup and fell over Orochi.  The three of them were a tangle of arms and legs.  Tam didn’t need to understand the language to know Yamata Orochi was cursing fluently in some foreign tongue.

When the couple fell on him, Orochi lost his hold on the shield he had cast between Luci and her lynx totem.  Given the change in the kit’s appearance Tam was surprised Luci recognized him.  However, a mancer-totem bond was strong, even one as new as the binding between those two.  Luci’s arms were around the overgrown kitten.

Tam bullied his way across the confusion created by his music.  He still played the clarinet.  Sometimes he used the rowan staff to encourage people to get out of his way.

He helped Luci to her feet.  Seeing that she was still unsteady from the drug he handed her the rowan staff.  Even so, they had to hurry.  He pulled her along with him as they ran out the front door of the elegant club.

“Wait!” Luci cried.  “Where’s Lychnis?”

Bogart Bacall Sinatra

Bogart, Bacall, Sinatra

Tam looked over his shoulder and saw the totem attempting to drag the huge roast with him.  The carving chef had abandoned it.  Tam blew a note on the clarinet and the feline looked up from his booty.  A large chunk of torn beef hung from his teeth as Lychnis bounded across the room to catch up with them.

They rounded the corner of the building where the red Caddy was parked.  Suddenly Yamata Orochi was between them and the car.  Lychnis snarled, bearing long fangs.  Apparently the totem had realized his own capabilities, and Lychnis lunged for his enemy.

Orochi gave a negligent wave of his hand and the lynx froze in mid-air.  Then the totem fell to the ground paralyzed.

“My, my,” the renegade sneered.  “You’re of a size to make a nice vest.  Maybe I’ll trade my leather one for fur.”  Then looking at Luci he continued.  “And I’ll see you, my dear, begging me for the privilege of wearing that lynx fur vest,” he finished with a leer.

 

A glance at Luci showed that she was fuming.  In other circumstances Tam might have found her anger sexy.  Before he had any idea what was coming, Luci gathered power into herself and used the rowan staff to direct it. 

Face painted with fury, Luci swung the tip of the staff at a level with Orochi.  White light ran down her arm and down the length of the rune carved staff.  The symbols glowed with white fire.  Then power blasted into Orochi.

Jean Shrimpton 1961

Luci angry

Even in the thick of the confrontation Tam was puzzled.  Since Luci’s mancer talent had yet to emerge, she should not have been able to produce any sort of power at all.

Compared to a truly expert, seasoned mancer, Luci had not produced an extraordinary amount of power.  However, it was completely unexpected, particularly not by Yamata Orochi.

White light blasted the villain into the air and back several feet, where he slammed into the broad trunk of an oak tree.  There was an audible thunk when his head banged against the tree.  Orochi was dazed by the blow and his head lolled.

Tam muttered as he stepped closer to the fallen lynx, and moved to lift the feline.

Unexpectedly, Orochi’s driver ran from the back of the club toward them.  Hardly looking at the man, Tam stood and held out the clarinet in a contemptuous motion.  He clotheslined the chauffeur as he ran to his master.

The driver fell with a rasping breath, a hand to his collarbone.  When he tried to rise, Tam blew a series of notes on the clarinet and the man sagged insensible.

Tam looked at him and grunted.  “Ouch.  That’s going to be quite a bruise on his clavicle,” the sandy haired man said.

Lychnis twitched and then rose unsteadily.  When Luci blasted Orochi, Lychnis was freed from the spell.  The kit was unharmed, if momentarily unsteady.The Dance magazine

Bright strobe lights ran across the sky and flashed down on random areas of the property.  Tam looked around nervously.

“I should have known a commotion this big would have consequences,” Tam muttered.

The howling of nearby dogs heralded the wail of sirens.  Tam wracked his brain for what to do about the super powerful sociopath the three of them had managed to incapacitate.  He knew Orochi wouldn’t be out for long.

His car phone was ringing to beat the band.  It suddenly registered with Tam that it had been ringing for a while.  Of course it would be Bodaway Thunder.  Tam picked up the phone.  The shaman’s voice went from frantic yelling to self-enforced calm.

“I’ve got to do something about this hateful git?” Tam told his friend.  “It won’t be enough to hogtie and gag him, though I’d like to see him trussed up like that.”

“Just leave him!” Bodaway exclaimed, rankling Tam.  “Even together we aren’t strong enough to deal with him.  And it would be days before enough help reached us to keep him subdued,” his friend insisted, and Tam knew it was true.

“Hurry up!  This crap is all over the police band on the ham radio,” Bodaway urged.  “I’m on my way to Luci’s.  That’s the best place to regroup.  I think she’s shored up bits of power at her home, like a mancer would to a favorite instrument.  I’ll meet you there.”

Spotlights Night City

The spirit animal moved to Luci’s side.  Protectively leaning against her shins, the lynx tried to prevent her from walking toward Orochi.  It made Luci stumble when she moved away from her totem and walked to where the renegade was slumped against the tree.

Then to Tam’s astonishment, she whacked the dazed Orochi over the head with the rowan staff for good measure.  With a grunt he tilted over to the ground, completely unconscious.  Tam looked at the “Wee Mouse” and couldn’t stop grinning.

“Don’t ever mess with my cat!” Luci spat the words at Orochi.

***

End Episode 14

 

Recipe:  Black Caviar and Cucumbers

The “food-thing”mentioned in this installment was caviar.  I’m not sure whether Luci or even Yamata Orochi got to eat any, but Lychnis did!  From Black Caviar USA, this link includes two tempting appetizer recipes.  Bon Appetite!

Black Caviar and Cucumbers

http://www.blackcaviarusa.com/caviar-recipes/

 

Bonus — Since there’s been so much dancing…

Just for the fun of it…

Johnny Depp Dancing – Alice In Wonderland

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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