Elizabeth entered the magic shop with some trepidation. She hoped that Darwin had taken the morning off and that the bimbo he employed was running the shop. No such luck. Her former classmate grinned in recognition and greeted her. She put on her best face and hoped the minor warlock wouldn’t know what she wanted the ingredients for. She wished there was another shop in town.
“Hello Darwin,” she returned his greeting. “How is business?”
“Oh, I can’t complain,” he said. “Well, I can, clearly. I certainly didn’t plan to spend my life selling these nasties when we graduated 30 years ago. Still, it’s a living!”
Elizabeth tried to look sympathetic, even though it was his own damn fault, goofing off in school and always playing the fool. Even with the abundance of raw magical talent that Elizabeth had, she still had to study in order to become one of the most powerful witches in Saskatchewan.
After the obligatory social niceties, she got to the point.
“Darwin, there’s a spell I want to try out and I need some ingredients. Oak ash, a five-faced prism, and the pineal gland of a chameleon, or the whole brain if you don’t have the gland extracted.”
“Ah, making a glamour I see,” said Darwin, nodding knowingly.
Shit. She was made.
“Ah, yes. A little one.”
“Want to look your best for the Wizard’s Ball Saturday?”
“Nothing to be embarrassed about, Elizabeth,” Darwin said, “We aren’t as young as we were in school. There are plenty of witches who use glamours, many of them younger than you are.”
“Yes, well, I just wanted to try something ... different.”
“Sure, sure. Only one problem. True sight.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, most of the Upper Echelon have it. Sees right through glamours.”
“Yes, well, I knew that would be a possibility, but at least the lesser wizards will see the illusion.”
“Oh, the Upper Echelon will see the illusion too, but they’ll also see what’s under it. Glamours come off as a big glaring mark when you have the true sight, so I’m told.”
“Oh.” said Elizabeth.
Shit, she thought. How did this idiot know so much? She supposed he had nothing better to do than research now days. Shit.
“Of course, there is another option,” Darwin said. “I happen to be in possession of a spell that will truly divide your age in half. Not only could you go to the Ball being literally 26, but you could also go shopping or watch a movie at the same time.”
“What on earth do you mean?” she asked.
“The spell splits you in two,” he explained. “Here, let me show you how it works.”
He turned his back on her and rummaged. Elizabeth scowled, wondering what the catch might be and what being split in two had to do with it. It sounded like the old stage magician’s trick.
“Its quite simple,” said Darwin, returning to her with a lump of grey clay and a grimour. “All you do is take this clay, mix in some of your spit to add your essence (Blood works too, if you prefer, but spit works just as well.) Then as you read the incantation, you pull the clay apart into two equal pieces and voila! One 52 year old becomes two 26 year olds. To reverse, your two younger selves simply read the counter spell while you mash the two lumps back together. I’ve done it a few times when I’ve had a lot of work to do and Gelly was on vacation. It’s fun at first, but after a while ... I don’t know. If your two selves go two different places, it can be really weird when you fuse and have two separate memories merge. But if you stay together, well, it can get really annoying.”
Elizabeth held back an impulse to quip that now he knew how the rest of the world felt. Darwin was an obnoxious ass and had been even more so as a young man. It was hardly surprising even that he would be trite company, even to himself.
She resisted saying as much, though, because the spell intrigued her. She could regain real youth and have the most delightful dinner companion she could hope for: herself! Had Darwin been pushing it on her she may have been suspicious, but as he seemed to down play the spell she decided it was something she just had to try.
“Can I give it a go?” she asked. “If I like it, I’ll buy it and the other ingredients as well, but I don’t want to buy an untested spell.”
“Oh sure, go right ahead if you’re inclined to,” Darwin said. “The magic doesn’t wear out or anything. You can go back and forth as often as you can read the spell and manipulate the clay.”
“Well, o.k. then, I’ll try it!” Elizabeth declared.
“Here’s the clay. Just work a little spittle into it.”
She did so, spitting with as much dignity as was possible. The stuff was definitely magical; she could feel it. The saliva adsorbed easily, changing the clay from light gray to dark. As she blended it, the glob remained cohesive, none of it sticking to her hands or under her nails. It felt warm and seemed to pulsate faintly.
“It’s a bit like a Darkinian Slorbath,” she observed.
“Yes, but more malleable,” Darwin agreed. “It makes it more useful for this purpose. Now all that you need to do is read this paragraph right here. The second paragraph reverses the spell. It’s in a rather obscure dialect of Altuvian: Cordovell Altuvian. Do you read it?”
Elizabeth didn’t, in fact. She barely understood the more common dialects of the Saroveth and Dorfindel Altuvians, but she certainly wasn’t about to admit that to Darwin. She had a knack for pronouncing languages well, even when she didn’t understand them, and could often dupe people into thinking that she understood more than she actually did.
“It’s been a while, but I think I remember the basic grammatical structure and pronunciation,” she said.
She scanned the page and recognized a few words, including half and divided. She could definitely fake it.
“Well, you’re welcome to give it a try and see if you like it. Then we can talk price,” Darwin grinned.
“We’ll see,” said Elizabeth. She imagined she would probably find a better deal in Toronto and if she bought the spell at all it would be there. Still, most of the bigger shops didn’t let you try the spells out before they had your money. Better to take advantage of Darwin’s offer.
She read the paragraph:
“Delani Fiee Shi Kelbi Shon
Fortrithe mosiba Cantrolian Faat
Bishanti mecareth El Megoth Menshi
Talbereth Balacon Bimb!”
As she spoke, the words they seemed to squirm and come alive in her mouth, as spells were wont to, and she knew the magic was working. She had gotten the pronunciation right!
The throbbing in the clay became more pronounced, reminding her to slowly draw the lump into two equal portions as she read. The clay complied reluctantly, then finally separated with a pop as she spoke the final word.
Elizabeth blinked. The pop came from a pressure change that made her ears ring and her stomach flip flop. She was no longer looking at the book but instead to one side of it. One hand held one lump of clay, the other was empty.
Startled, she looked over to see a younger version of herself on the other side of the podium.
“Oh my!” she and her other self said at once, and then they giggled.
“This is amazing!” they both said, turning to Darwin and then looking back at each other. “How come you keep saying the same thing that I do?”
“Don’t worry about it, ladies. Your brains are identical and you’re in the same situation so you think of the same thing to say at the same moment. As you accumulate more separate experiences, it will stop happening so often.”
“OK” they said in stereo, then grinned at each other. “What number am I thinking of? Three!”
The two young Elizabeths giggled again.
“Gosh!” they said, reaching out to touch the others face. “My skin is so smooth! Were so pretty! Darwin, do you have a mirror?”
“Of course, ladies. Of course,” said the shopkeeper. “In the back room. Follow me.”
Hand in hand the two Elizabeths followed Darwin into the back room where he had a large mirror. They didn’t notice how the front door locked itself and a closed signed appeared in the window.
They giggled when they saw themselves, identical amazed and amused expressions on their young faces.
“This is so cool!” they said in tandem, then giggled. “This dress hardly fits us now, we’ve lost so much weight!”
Upon saying so, both young Elizabeths pulled at the fabric that hung loosely off their younger, slimmer bodies and both dresses tore like tissue paper.
“Hey!” the two exclaimed, then pulled at the shoulder of each dress, ripping it again, exposing a bra strap on each left shoulder which also snapped apart when tugged at.
“What happened to our clothes?” they asked each other, then giggled when they realized that neither of them knew and turned to Darwin.
“Why Elizabeth, you surprise me. Surely you realize that the spell wouldn’t duplicate your clothing! Instead, half of the fibers went to one half of Elizabeth, the other half to the other! Naturally, the integrity of the fabric was compromised.”
The Elizabeths frowned. They didn’t understand what Darwin was saying. Something about the spell ruining their dress. Why did he have to make it so complicated? He was just showing off with his big words.
.... There is more of this story ...