The Last Sorcerer
                               - Felicia Cash
Chapter One
Making a Mountain Out of a Mole


Twila watched the second-hand make its round, fifty-seven, fifty-eight, fifty-nine. The bell rang and she shot out of her seat,
history book in hand. She weaved through the surge of students, intent on reaching the door, when the voice of doom
stopped her.

“Twila Aurelius, I’d like to speak to you.”

She stopped, her shoulders sagging, and turned back. Mr. Brown, her History teacher, crooked a finger and Twila sighed.
Her new best friend, Morgan Stevens, gave her a sympathetic look before exiting the room with the rest of the class. The
wave of students broke around Twila like a stream parted by a rock. When they were all gone, she trudged up to Mr.
Brown’s desk.

Mr. Brown was a bland looking man. Twila thought that his name fit him well. He was short, with a receding hairline and
thin half-moon glasses. His hair was brown, as were his eyes, his suit and his shoes. The only thing that broke the muddy
monotony was the lime green tie that rippled down his front like huge booger.

“Twila, I realize you’ve had a hard year, but that is no excuse for turning in work like this.” He pushed her latest report
across the desk toward her. A fat red ‘F’ glared up at her beside the bold black letters of the title ‘The Truth about Merlin’.
“This report was supposed to be about one of your ancestors, not a mythical figure. I am very disappointed; half of what’s
in this report doesn’t even coincide with the standard mythos of the Arthurian period. Now, I’m sure that Mrs. Bombeck
would be delighted to read your story, but that’s what it is, a story, not
history. This is not a creative writing class, Miss
Aurelius.” He crossed his arms and looked at her over the rim of his glasses.

“But-”

“No buts.” His eyes pinned her with disapproval. “I thought you would write about your father. From all accounts, he was a
great man.”

Is,” Twila muttered under her breath.

“What’s that?” Mr. Brown raised an eyebrow at her.

“He is a great man.” Tears crept into her eyes but she ignored them.

Mr. Brown sighed. “Twila, you are going to have to accept it someday. He’s gone.”

“He’s not dead.” Her voice wavered more than she liked and she silently cursed her traitorous vocal chords.

Mr. Brown shrugged and shook his head. “Be that as it may, no one knows what happened to him. You need to face the fact
that he might be…” He let his words trail off. “Well, there’s no need to argue about what we can’t change. Instead, you
should focus on what you
can change, like your grades. I’m going to give you an extra week to complete the assignment as
directed. Choose a person from your family lineage and tell me about them. You can choose your father, or any of your
relatives, but make it
real this time.”

Twila stared at the paper in her hands. Uncle Daniel had warned her that Merlin Aurelius wasn’t the best choice for her
report, but his life had been so interesting.  Her whole life she’d heard stories about her many-times-great grandfather. They
were her favorites. Her dad would make her a cup of cocoa and they would sit in front of the fireplace, letting its warm light
shine on the family heirlooms: a staff of dark wood with a massive ruby mounted on top, a leather bound book with gold
edged pages and, most important of all, a simple wooden cup.

“Do you understand, Miss Aurelius?” Her teacher’s question snapped her out of her memories.

She nodded. “But, Mr. Brown, Merlin was my Great-great-”

He frowned. “That’s enough, Twila. Unless you can bring me proof, I don’t want to hear any more on the subject. Redo the
report or take the grade.”

“Yes, sir.” She stuffed the report and her history book into her backpack and turned to leave the room.

“Twila.”

She turned back, repressing the urge to scream. “Yes, Mr. Brown.”

“I hope you’re right about your father. Never think that I don’t. But I do think that you should talk to someone about it, all
right?” he said softly.

She nodded and hurried from the room, trying to hide her tears.

Morgan was waiting at her locker. Twila dashed the tears away and faked a smile.

“Was it really that bad?” Her friend looked stricken. “What happened?”

“Nothing.” Twila pulled two more books from her locker and stuffed them into the backpack, crushing the failed report into
the bottom of the bag. “I have to redo my report.”

“Oh man, are you serious? What’s wrong with it?” Morgan said.

“Mr. Brown didn’t like my subject.” Twila shrugged the backpack onto her shoulders.

“Who’d you choose?” Morgan asked, walking toward the school entrance.

“A great grandfather of mine.” Twila pushed open the door and stepped out into the October sunshine.

“What was he, an axe murderer or something?” Morgan looked a bit too interested.

“Or something.” Twila ignored the glimmer of curiosity in Morgan’s eyes and Morgan took the hint.

“Well, you can’t choose who you’re related to. It’s not fair.” She tossed her beaded braids and the sun picked out red
highlights in her dark brown hair. “If I had an axe murderer in my family tree I’d have written about him too.” She snorted
and shook her head. “Well, anyway, forget about that. Stacy, Brooke and I are going to see the Zombies vs. Mummies
movie, do you wanna come?”

Twila perked up at the idea. A black limousine pulled up to the curb and dashed her hopes. “I can’t.” She pointed at the limo
and sighed. “My Uncle Daniel’s here to pick me up.”

Morgan stared at the limo. “It’s so cool that your uncle has a limo.”

“Actually, it’s mine.” Twila watched her friend’s golden-brown eyes grow to the size of basketballs, and smiled.

“You’re joking.” Morgan gave her a light push.

“Nope. It was my dad’s, and now it’s mine.” She laughed as Morgan’s chin dropped. “Do you want a ride home? I’m sure
Uncle Daniel would be happy to drop you off.”

“Really?” Morgan squealed and jumped up and down, her braids bouncing around her brown face.  “Are you serious?”

“Yeah, why not?”

Morgan screeched again and practically dragged Twila down the steps to the sleek black car.

Twila was happy to oblige her friend’s excitement, but when they reached the car, Harold wasn’t there to open the door.
Twila stopped short and glanced at the man in the driver’s seat. It wasn’t Harold. Morgan was too excited to notice Twila’s
hesitation as she flung open the door and climbed in. Twila peered into the dark recesses of the limo and sighed with relief.
Uncle Daniel sat in the far seat, his back to the cab.

“Where’s Harold?” Twila asked as she climbed in beside her friend.

Uncle Daniel looked at her, somewhat bewildered. His eyes flicked to Morgan and back to Twila before he stuttered out, “Uh,
Harold? Oh yes, Harold. He’s not feeling well today.”

“He seemed fine when he dropped me off this morning.” Twila watched her uncle’s face. Something was not quite right.

“Um, I… we didn’t know that we would be picking up another passenger.” Uncle Daniel’s voice shook, and Twila’s heart
thudded a bit faster.

“I just thought that we could take Morgan home. It’s on the way. She’s never ridden in a limo before.”

“Oh, yes, of course.” Uncle Daniel rubbed his palms on the seat and gave the girls a sallow smile. The car pulled away from
the curb.

“Is everything all right?” Twila was concerned. Uncle Daniel wasn’t acting like his usual carefree self. He was nervous, and
the last time she’d seen him nervous was the day he’d been appointed as her guardian, nearly a year ago. His nervousness
was catching, but something else was wrong too. She stared at her uncle while Morgan chattered excitedly about the soft
seats and built in gaming stations.

Uncle Daniel was tall and thin with straight sandy blonde hair and the Aurelius family green eyes.  He had a thin beard, kept
close to his face, and wildly mobile eyebrows. His usual attire might have been found on any hardcore surfer type, cargo
shorts, bright Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops, but today he was wearing khaki pants, a white shirt, and - almost unthinkable -
shoes. Twila stared at the shoes, brown penny loafers that actually had pennies in them. She couldn’t take her eyes off the
shoes. Uncle Daniel never wore shoes, ever! He’d even worn flip-flops to his wedding.

“Oh, I think we’re going the wrong way.” Morgan’s apologetic voice broke through Twila’s stupefaction.

She looked up to find that the car was going the wrong way. Nothing around her looked familiar.

“Oh, yes, well we need to make a quick stop first.” Uncle Daniel’s smile wavered.

Twila squinted at him. This was all wrong. With a thrill of fear, she realized that Uncle Daniel had a mole above his right
eyebrow, but the man across the car from her had one above his left. A simulacrum. Twila’s mind raced as she tried to
remember everything her father had told her about simulacrum.

“A simulacrum looks like the person they are impersonating, but they are, in fact, the mirror image of that person. A
simulacrum cannot take on the exact image of another, but can reflect the image of that person. Therefore, if you know the
person well, you can sometimes differentiate between the simulacrum and the real thing. However, this is unhelpful when a
person is very symmetrical. It is also why some in the magick community wear certain symbols on one hand or have tattoos
on a specific side of their faces, in order for those who know them to be able to tell the difference.”

Twila stared at the mole, willing it to be on the other side.  

“Um, I think I’d better just get home. You can let me out here.” Morgan grew quiet, her eyes flickering between Twila and
her uncle.

“I think Morgan’s right.” Twila kept her eyes glued to the man across from her, not daring to look away. “We’ll just walk
home from here.” Twila reached for the door handle just as the locks clicked.

“Hey, what’s going on here?” Morgan struggled with her own handle then flicked the window switch back and forth several
times to no avail. “Twila, what’s happening?”

“I don’t know, Morgan, but that’s not my uncle.” She pointed an accusing finger at the simulacrum. “Who are you and what
do you want?”

Uncle Daniel’s face shimmered for a moment before sloughing off onto the floor.

Morgan screamed and clung to Twila’s arm. The creature sitting across from them was more than ugly and, undoubtedly,
Morgan had never seen the like before, but Twila had, even if it had only been in pictures. The simulacrum grunted as it
kicked its discarded skin away. Its face was a lumpy grey that changed constantly like bubbling mud. Its bulbous nose
dribbled down onto its chin and Twila thought it might fall off until the simulacrum sniffed. The nose shot up into the wispy
hair above and began its slow descent again.

“You won’t get away with this,” Twila said.

“Oh, yes, and who’s going to stop me? Your daddy?” The simulacrum’s voice was harsh and grating with moist phlegmy
rasps. “My master has made certain that
he is no longer a threat to the Hada. We have won, and with you in our grasp we
will tip the balance of power in our favor forever.”

Morgan’s grip was becoming painful, and Twila tried to pull her arm away unsuccessfully. “There’s no reason for you to
take Morgan. Let her go.”

“Too late for that. Her presence was unexpected, but the Hada will be grateful for a tender morsel like her.” The creature’s
large tongue licked its malformed lips suggestively.

Morgan’s grip grew tight enough to cut off all circulation to Twila’s arm. “My uncles will rescue me. You’ll pay for this
when they catch up to you.”

The simulacrum laughed. “Your puny,
half-magicked uncles are no match for my master.”

Twila shivered and hoped it wasn’t true. “Who is your master?”

The simulacrum smiled, baring yellow and grey teeth. “Orm.” The simulacrum said the name with deep and mirthless
pleasure.

Twila felt the life draining away from her. “No.” The word was little more than a whisper. “It can’t be. Orm is dead.”

The simulacrum laughed long and loud. Then it coughed and hacked a gobbet of green phlegm onto the gray carpet of the
limo. “Stupid girl. You can’t really kill a dragon.”
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