Chapter 12 – Mirror enchantments

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The cave find became the focus of attention for the entire village. Their community hadn’t had anything exciting to talk about since most of its members could remember, and the discovery of something both fascinating and inaccessible kept everybody on the edge of their seats with anticipation.

Public discussions about mirrors became so commonplace that even Mrs. Gentry gave up protesting eventually. ‘One can’t squelch public curiosity, especially that of young people, it’s a sad state of fact,’ she thought, sighing with nostalgia for the good old days when even a mention of mirrors or reflections would immediately draw community shunning.

“The times we live in!” she complained, often out loud, to whomever was willing to listen. “My parents would not have left the house for shame if I ever spoke so out of turn in front of my peers and elders! We’re just sliding down a slippery slope towards certain doom with this abrogation of morality and sacred rules. I never imagined I’d have to discuss such profane and shameful subjects in Council! Oh, what will become of us!” she uttered tragically, and between the mourning attire and her strong classic features her countenance reminded people of Electra.

The core of the Council, even those who did not approve of mirrors in principle, finally tired of her drama, learned to nod politely during her antics and tune her out.

On a more practical side the study of the Que’d advanced with the slowness of a snail, in part because the task of translating a language she didn’t know was daunting in and of itself, and in part because Lucille, for all her enthusiasm towards the freshly uncovered knowledge, was still uncomfortable speaking openly about a subject that had been her cross to bear throughout a lifetime.

The Scholar friend, whom Mary never got to meet, proved to be a godsend, moving them faster forward in the understanding of the tome.

“So, this is some sort of mirror guide?” Mary half-asked.

“It appears so, it seems to be a manual, although I’m not so sure how it works,” Lucille commented. “If the spelling worked in written form, we’d already have seen some results. Or maybe you don’t have the required skills,” she hypothesized, shaking her head, obfuscated. “I can’t believe I’m talking about spells with you!” she continued. “Maybe if we say the words out loud something happens, although I worry about the consequences of such a dangerous experiment.”

“Well, I don’t think that chanting

var the date equals new Date;

var test one equals the date get Time;

function animate’

is going to do anything, aunt!” Mary protested.

“Good heavens, Mary! Do you realize how reckless that was?!” Lucille jumped out of her seat. “How can you be sure you don’t unleash all breeds of hell upon our heads with these words, you should never test them until you know for sure what they do!”

“Nothing happened, aunt. I don’t think it’s the chanting,” Mary replied.

“Maybe. Or maybe the spell is incomplete, it seems too short. Anyway, it doesn’t mention the purpose of that which it animates, does it?” Lucille frowned.

Mary became very thoughtful.

“Didn’t your friend give you an idea about what all of this could be used for?” she eventually asked.

“All I could gather was that these are instructions on how to open the mirrors, we probably need one in order to see how the words work,” Lucille replied.

Her niece hesitated for a second, then offered sheepishly.

“You know, I could ask around, maybe somebody knows where to find a reflective surface, given our dire necessity. For research, of course!”

“Mary! I’m disappointed in you! Besides, it wouldn’t help us anyway, dear. It seems it has to be of a special kind, a black mirror is what he said,” she whispered so quietly that Mary had to lean over to hear her.

“Why a black mirror, aunt? What’s so special about them?” she asked innocently.

“They carry wisdom inside,” Lucille reluctantly disclosed. “I seriously doubt there is one left intact in the village, though, the founders were adamant about finding and destroying every last one.”

“But, hypothetically speaking, if we found one, this might work,” Mary continued her thought. “If we, say, did manage to open one of those mirrors, what would it do?”

“That’s the problem, I don’t know. Maybe we’re lucky not to have found one, Mary, it seems risky to rush into an experiment like this. We need to learn more about the cursed objects before we try anything. Let’s wrap this up for today, shall we? “ she said, getting up. “I need to go to the Council Hall anyway, they’re expecting updates.”

The council was waiting for her as one, with bated breath. Rosemary presided over the gathering, thrilled to have been the center of attention and disappointed that Lucille’s arrival with fresh information stole her thunder. The room went quiet upon the entrance of the latter, in anticipation of new revelations.

Eventually, Mrs. Eberhart spoke. She was one of the revered elders and the Circle naturally yielded to her wisdom.

“What news have you brought us, Lucille? We’re all beyond ourselves with curiosity, don’t keep us on the edge of our seats, let’s have them!”

Lucille spent a good half hour doing her best to explain the findings to a perplexed audience. Many of the ladies were incredulous, even more were shocked, and a few simply didn’t want to be there at all. To think they had spent their lives in the dignified manner of their tradition, only to be subjected to this awkward mirror conversation in the autumn of their days! The more Lucille spoke, the less they wanted to hear. Rosemary finally snapped.

“I think I speak for all of us when I say that the founders were wise beyond reason to relegate this despicable subject to oblivion! Say no more, Lucille! How about making a unanimous decision right here, right now, to ban this subject forever, seal the cave and remove all knowledge of it, so that the next generation doesn’t have to be exposed to this depravity! Who is with me?” she prompted, looking around. Hands remained down, so she dunked back into the seat, offended. Mrs. Eberhart spoke.

“This seems a little far-fetched, Lucille, are you sure this is the correct interpretation, my dear? Maybe there are some mistranslations, even the Scholars’ line seems to know almost nothing about the old language.” Lucille assured her that the little they managed to translate was absolutely accurate.

“It just seems so hard to believe that a few words arranged in sequence could do something, um, supernatural, so to speak, to inanimate objects, even to the mirrors, of which we know precious little. Not a very scientific approach, don’t you think?”

“Exactly!” Rosemary gained back her confidence. “Why poison young minds with this sacrilegious nonsense!” Mrs. Eberhart waved her hand to signal she wasn’t finished talking.

“So, when you manage to fit together enough detail about this endeavor,” she looked at Lucille, “what then? I don’t think we can scrounge up a mirror, it is my understanding they’d all been destroyed. Especially the particular kind you were talking about. By the way, you never mentioned, how did you find out these details?” she looked Lucille straight in the eyes. The latter searched through her notes again, as if trying to find the answer to the question written in there somewhere, and as she bode her time a very animated Giselle burst through the door to let them know the girls in the weaving workshop had ran out of gray wool.

The Council refocused its attention on the issue at hand, which seemed to have some urgency associated to it, and abandoned Lucille’s pie in the sky research, to the great relief of the latter. The rest of the time was spent in an acerbic debate regarding which kind of gray wool was better, Merino or Shetland, and the meeting went on, well into the night.