1965 Cadillac ad
In The Guitar Mancer, Tam’s pride and joy is his vintage 1959 red Cadillac. That has nothing to do with the 1965 model I’m featuring with this installment. You’ve seen that sometimes the automobile I choose to begin a post is a small hint about the episode. Now that you know it’s not Tam’s car, what do you think this hint might be?
I’ve used up most of the “things” that were given to me at the kickoff of this serialization of The Guitar Mancer. So I was trying to figure out how to tie a blogger to this story. I had a Homer Simpson “Duh!” moment when I looked at the titular word, Reflection. Of course! D. Wallace Peach (aka Diana) calls her blog Myths of the Mirror. Perfect. The “thing” I’ll use is mirror.
Recently Diana released a quartet of what I call “high fantasy” books. Click to learn more about her Dragon Soul books.
Diana’s prose is beautiful and her stories are filled with rich descriptions. Don’t take my word for it — browse around her blog and see how talented she is.
About This Episode
This installment explains more of the mythology I created for Route 66. Luci learns a little about what is in store for her.
Hmmm… I’m trying to figure out how I can remind you of the previous installment without giving spoilers for someone who has not read these posts in order. So I’ll just remind you that Luci learned her mother, Darla, was lost (and probably died) in a strange place The Mother called the Reflected Route. Meanwhile Luci continued to try and persuade the Spirit of Route 66 to remove the block from her mancer powers. But now I have a sneaking worried feeling about whether or not she should go through with it…
Episode 23 — Reflection
The Spirit of the Mother Road stared into Luci’s eyes for what seemed like forever. Luci wanted to look away from her penetrating gaze, but found she could not.
“I take no joy in this,” the Mother finally said and again the Route 66 faeries murmured to one another.
“I will allow the way to the Reflected Road to open,” she intoned formally.
Bodaway Thunder inhaled sharply. A frightened expression was in Tam’s green eyes as he looked at the shaman. Goose bumps rose on Luci’s arms. There was something in the Mother’s voice that she could only describe as permanence. She was making a proclamation. Luci felt ice in the pit of her stomach.
“What do you mean, the Reflected Road?” Luci asked.
The Mother gave Luci one of the brightest, most charming smiles Luci had ever seen. It made her head hurt to try and keep up with the number of different moods of which the Mother was capable, let alone how quickly they changed.
“The Reflected Road is just that — a reflection of the Mother Road. It’s a place of…” the Mother’s voice trailed away as she paused in thought. “It’s a place of what if! It’s where you might find any potential that ever might have happened, past, present, or future,” she said, her eyes bright with excitement.
Then her brilliant smile twisted to a no-nonsense frown and she put her hands on Luci’s shoulders. “Or true places of the past or future. Whether you find truth or falsehood is not the point,” she surprised Luci by saying. “What you experience on the Reflected Road should take you to the heights, or depths,” she added, her voice dropping dramatically, “of who you are, of the choices of which you are capable. All the answers are within. Knowing that about yourself should unlock the block I put on your mancer powers.”
“And if it doesn’t?” Luci wanted to know.
The Mother’s eyes widened. She shrugged her shoulders up to her ears and spread her hands dramatically. “How should I know?” was all she would say.
Ally Sheedy as The Mother
The hippies began to glow softly while the Mother spoke. They turned to each other and directed their attention to the one called Mist. The frizzy halo of her silver hair glittered. Mist slowly walked to Luci.
“Neither man nor woman may go with her. She must find her way out on her own,” the Mother warned sharply with a fierce stare at Tam and Bodaway Thunder.
“Surely the totem must accompany her,” Tam said in a reasoning tone. “After all, it is neither man nor woman. Besides, it’s only a baby. In fact it will likely cause her trouble rather than helping,” Tam said, his face painted with pure innocence.
Bodaway shot him a pointed glance that appeared to be meant to remind him that the Mother could see through him easily.
Domhnall Gleeson as Tam
One side of her mouth turned down briefly and the Mother gave him a contemptuous sidelong glare. “Yes, it’s a baby. A baby lynx! As if I don’t know the properties of lynx medicine?” she said turning to face them fully with her fists planted on her hips.
Tam bent his head, suitably chastised — or at least he looked like he was. Luci figured it was another pretense.
“The lynx is a spirit animal,” interjected Bodaway. “It has not had time to fully bond to Luci. Its path may be disrupted, doing irreversible harm to the cub if it is separated from her at this stage,” the shaman pleaded.
The Mother stared at the shaman for so long that Luci wondered how he could hold her gaze without flinching.
Lychnis took several steps toward the Spirit of the Mother Road and then sat down not far from her feet. He looked up at the Mother with his big-eared comical face and started to purr. Tam looked at the lynx kit with a smirk of admiration.
“Oh all right,” the Mother relented in a put upon voice. “Her totem can go with her. But no one else! Not either of you and not the hawk. Understood?”
“Luci, you must be wholeheartedly committed to this,” the Mother admonished in a tone so formal that Luci imagined the reverberating noise of a large gong — or perhaps there actually had been a gong.
“You cannot stay on the Reflected Road indefinitely,” she cautioned. “Bodaway Thunder and Tammarand Ben Taliesin will use their mancer powers periodically to call you back to the Mother Road,” she said. “You will know when it is time to go to your companions for a period of renewal,” she said vaguely.
“How will I know?” Luci asked nervously, feeling overwhelmed.
Jean Shrimpton as Luci
The Mother straightened her shoulders, her expression dire again. “You will either hear their music, or there will be a sign. It will vary, but you will recognize the summons. Or at least you will if you’re paying attention,” she added in a derisive voice as one corner of her mouth turned down rather scornfully. “Also be alert to your totem. He will react to the signs,” the Mother advised.
Lychnis chose that moment to pounce on a beetle that crawled near him. The Mother sighed and shook her gray-streaked red curls.
“Maybe you’re right about him not being that much help,” she commented with a quick look at Tam.
She folded her arms across her chest and stared at Luci for a moment, as if making sure her instructions were sinking into the girl’s memory.
“As I said, you must step off the Reflected Road from time to time. But just as you may not stay on it too long, neither can you stay away for long, once you start your journey. Else the way back will close and you will not be able to complete your path,” she warned.
Luci nodded gravely at the Mother’s questioning look. “Each time you step off the Reflected Road and momentarily join your friends, you will have the option to abandon your quest,” she said and Luci’s hope rose. “But if you quit, you forfeit your mancer power — moreover you forfeit the totem. Lychnis would be no more!”
“Come on! Is that really necessary?” Tam objected as Bodaway made shushing motions at him.
A horrified gasp escaped Luci’s lips at the prospect of the big kitten “being no more.” She knew it was ridiculous for her to be so attached to an animal in such a short time, but knowing didn’t change how she felt. Maybe, she supposed, that was part of what Bodaway was talking about when he mentioned bonding.
The Mother looked at her gravely. “You are free to reject this offer. You have not committed yet. A trickle of the mancer power for which you have potential may yet emerge. But it would be nothing compared to the utter torrent of the fullness of your potential power,” the Mother said with a broad gesture and a wild gleam in her eyes. “And the totem will stay with you as your lifelong companion,” she added, bringing a tear of relief to Luci’s eye.
Lychnis leaned against her shins. Luci could feel the vibration of his purr. She bent down and scratched him under his chin. She looked at Freyja, perched on Bodaway’s shoulder. The big hawk bobbed her head as if in encouragement, then she gave a soft whistle.
Taking a deep, but this time a steady breath Luci nodded affirmatively. “What do I have to do?” she asked.
“Simply make it to the end of your path,” the Mother told her, though Luci was sure there would be nothing simple about it.
“Wait a minute,” Luci said as a new thought came to her. “Am I going to walk all the way across the country?”
“Time and distance progress differently on the Reflected Route,” the Spirit of the Mother Road stated.
The Mother turned to Luci’s companions. “Gentlemen, it is your charge to divine her progress. At some times she may travel at a walking pace. Other times she might make a leap of hundreds of miles. If this happens, and it probably will,” she stressed the words and gave them a wild-eyed look. “Then you will have to use your mancer powers to reach her next arrival point in time. And you must be on time,” the Spirit of Route 66 cautioned in a dire tone.
Luci took a shaking breath. She looked at Tam and Bodaway. She barely knew either man, but she would have to trust them with her life, and do so repeatedly. The Mother had stressed that they would have to be on time. Men were rarely on time in Luci’s experience. Heck, she thought, nobody was ever on time, male or female. Luci was always the first one at an appointment. She sighed without realizing she had done so.
“Oh yes, I almost forgot. Sometimes it might be hard for her to hear your summons,” the Mother added, putting her fingers to her lips in a childlike gesture.
“What are we supposed to do if she can’t hear us?” Tam demanded.
“Try harder,” the Mother told him drolly.
Luci was surprised to see the Mother sneer at Tam, but then her manner changed in that quicksilver way, and she tossed her riot of red curls in a sassy movement. Then she lowered her eyelids and cast a coquettish glance at the men.
“And be quick about it. Remember that footsteps do not travel according to miles there. It is possible that there may be an instance when you are not able to get to her in time,” she stated in an unconcerned voice, making a small gesture with her hand.
“If that does happen, then what do we do?” Bodaway asked.
The Mother’s mouth twisted and she looked at the men levelly. “If that happens, there’s probably no point in continuing, but you could move on to the next meeting point and hope,” she replied.
Her eyes narrowed suspiciously at their aghast expressions. “You will not be able to go onto the Reflected Route to get her. Don’t even think about it!” she warned with a fierce look at Tam. “If you find a way, if you are that powerful, know that you will destroy her, along with a large portion of your own reality.”
Tam looked at the ground. His shoulders sagged. He acted as if he thought the Mother knew what he was thinking whenever he came up with an idea that would subvert her.
The Mother looked a question at Luci, who responded with a serious nod.
Mist stepped forward onto the pavement of Route 66. The ageless looking silver haired hippy held out her hand to Luci.
Luci stood, but suddenly her body felt stiff. How long had she sat there on the cold ground? The sun was lower on the horizon than she expected.
Moving toward the edge of the road, Luci’s steps slowed even though she tried to force her feet to move faster. It was as if the air had thickened and become sucking mud, hindering every step. Eventually she couldn’t lift her feet from the ground. Luci looked down at the ground, but saw nothing to keep her stuck there.
The lynx kitten paced nervously back and forth from Luci to the edge of the pavement. Whatever hindered Luci’s steps had no effect on the spirit animal. Freyja gave a sharp chilling cry. It sounded like a warning to Luci.
Fearfully she looked up and beheld Mist standing on the Mother Road. The air around Mist wavered and flashed like sunlight bouncing off a mirror. A bank of fog rolled down the road, engulfing it. The silver frizz of Mist’s hair seemed to merge with the color of the fog.
“It’s time,” Mist said encouragingly with a kind smile. “Take my hand!”
Luci reached forward and grasped Mist’s outstretched hand. Mist pulled firmly and Luci’s feet came free of the unseen force that held them. Lychnis gave an approving mer-rawr.
The silver fog crept steadily closer. The Spirit of Route 66 also stepped onto the Mother Road and she began to glow brightly. Her eyes, even her skin shined with a light from within. The strange fog engulfed the three women. Luci could no longer see Tam and Bodaway even though they were only a few feet away.
The Mother stared into her eyes. Once again, Luci was unable to look away.
“This is the Reflected Road. It’s a mirror of the Mother Road,” she reminded Luci. “As I told you, on your path you may encounter things that have happened in the past. Time, even eras do not flow according to any pattern here. When you come out of this fog, you might emerge at any when,” she said, further confusing Luci.
“You might also see and experience things that never happened at all, but could have happened if different choices had been made,” the Mother told her.
Barbara Feldon as Darla Harper
The Mother stepped very close to Luci and continued sternly. “You may find things that terrify you, things that cause you to accidentally run away from your path to escape them. But you must not stray!” she cautioned with that maniacal gleam in her eyes. “If you step far from your path you will be lost. Probably forever,” she said dourly, eliciting another nod from Luci.
“Likewise, you will see beautiful things, lost happiness that tempts you to abandon your quest and stay forever on the Reflected Route in a dream world of false happiness. If you tarry you will be lost,” she told Luci with an expression of beatific ecstasy that seemed to contradict the warning of her words.
“If you do find such a ‘what if’ and choose to stay, the decision is irrevocable,” the spirit of the Mother Road pursed her lips and added with a one-shouldered shrug. “The rest of your existence, life and afterlife, will be spent in the Reflected Route,” she said with intensity that made Luci shiver.
“Is that what happened to my mom?” Luci asked.
The Mother’s hair whipped, because she turned so fast. She cast cold eyes on Luci. She did not speak.
End Episode 23
Past, present, and future… Truth or things that only might have been… What if? I wonder what Luci has gotten herself into now. Stay tuned to learn the answer to that question.
Recipe: Marble Mirror Glaze
I Googled all over the place, looking for a recipe with either “reflection” or “mirror” in the name. I almost gave up, but then I found this gorgeous post from Carolina Westwood at Bake My Cake. (And yes, when I noticed her name was the same as our heroine’s seldom used first name, how could I resist?)
Her recipe for Marble Mirror Glaze comes complete with videos. However, I’m issuing a warning. Carolina’s blog is filled with beautiful deserts. So don’t blame me if your sweet-tooth takes over. http://bakemycake.org/marble-mirror-glaze-recipe/
Be ready next time, when the vintage Caddy rolls up with another episode of The Guitar Mancer. Just get in the car!
Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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