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You ponder this for a moment, and while you have other things on your mind, you can’t help but want to ask a little more. Finding out this information from Alajeem makes sense to you - given the fact he has the most experience with all that’s happened in the djinn realm, after all.


‘Do you feel any regret, Alajeem?’ you ask, going back to your earlier question.


Alajeem’s lips twitch. He eyes you once more, his expression unreadable in that moment. It’s like he’s trying to figure out what it is you’re getting at, or maybe he wants to know WHY you’re asking the thing you’re asking him.


“Regret?” he says the word with an odd air to it, as if it’s an almost foreign term to utter. “For what, exactly, are you asking whether or not I feel regret toward? For the humans that were cursed to fade into obscurity? For my role in that, as small a role as that happened to be?” He smirks. “Or regret for how far a once-great djinn such as myself has fallen in this new era?”


You hold his gaze evenly. ‘All the above, I guess.’


Alajeem snorts. “I feel a great deal of regret for my current placement in existence, yes! And why wouldn’t I? Being trapped in a vase for ages has been nothing but an endless level of tedium and irritation for me, that is no joke.”


“You’re wasting your time if you think he’s learned anything,” Shira says. “You should know by now from what you’ve been told - we djinn don’t typically abide by the same moral principles you humans do.”


‘You feel strongly for Ali, though, don’t you?’ you ask.


Shira blinks several times, before she nods. “I do. I didn’t thousands of years ago, as I said before.” She looks at Ali with an expression of care and fondness evident in her eyes. “But, time and experience have indeed given me hindsight. They’ve taught me a great deal about feelings and emotions… about understanding mortal mentalities in ways I doubt I would’ve ever dreamt of had you met me a thousand years ago. And I’m truly happy for it all.”


Ali merely looks at Shira with an expression of tenderness.


You soak her words in, then turn to Akam. ‘Do you feel that you’ve grown to have a stronger emotional understanding, Akam?’


“I would say so, yes,” Akam replies, and he sounds and looks genuinely sincere. “It’s possible for us to learn and grow attached to that which makes you humans human.” He glances toward Alajeem with a little grin. “Perhaps rare, sure, particularly for the oldest among us. But, it’s still very possible.”


Alajeem falls silent here, rather than responding straight away. He seems to be lost in thought - and you wonder if he’s considering his true feelings on the subject, or if maybe he’s just pretending. It’s hard for you to tell.


‘I could be assuming all the wrong things about him,’ you muse to yourself.


But still… You can’t imagine what it’s been like, to live for thousands of years while being trapped in a container - one that you can see and hear outside of, but never leave without becoming weaker as a cost. You feel… well, despite everything, you feel a twinge of sympathy for the djinn. But, you don’t want to voice that, lest it give him ideas or create the wrong idea.


“I don’t know that I feel regret as you would define the term,” Alajeem admits after a moment. “It’s difficult for me to lend my thoughts to… ‘caring’ about the fates of mortals, particularly those that died so very long ago.”


He shrugs as he glances from you to Ali. “I would say, and this is as honest as I can be, mortal - but, knowing what I do now, I admit to you that I wouldn’t take the same steps I did in ancient times. It’s not an easy feat for me to extend any form of consideration toward beings like you, who live fleeting lives compared to us djinn. But, would I rather be free to do what I wish? Of course.”


You nod along to this. ‘Fair enough. Thank you.’


He frowns, but offers nothing else.


‘How long are you able to be out of your vase like this?’ Ali asks.


Alajeem grunts. “Not for much longer. I can only manifest freely for bursts at a time, and since I’ve been prattling on for so long, it’s nearly run its course.” He looks down at the vase with a defeated sigh. “I suppose this has been a rather pleasant time for me, brief though it may have been. Being out in the fresh air… though I am still not entirely FOND of this mortal realm, I must admit that I do appreciate it after being stuck in my prison for so long.”


“Perhaps some day, you will find a Master as kind as mine,” Akam says. “Or as Ali.” He offers Alajeem a smile. “You would need to learn much about dealing with humans, though - trickery and deceit, and finding loopholes to be cruel for the sake of your own enjoyment… such things offer little reward in the end.”


“Speaking from experience, Akam?” the other djinn asks.


Akam simply chuckles.


“Well, back I go for now,” Alajeem says. “Whatever you lot decides on doing…” He sighs with an obvious air of recognizing how he has no choice in anything. “I would appreciate not being returned underground… at the least.”


He nods, then, without another word, his body turns into a thick plume of smoke that appears to be sucked back into the vase. And then, that’s it - Alajeem is gone. It’s surprisingly more low-key then you expected, yet the area falls silent, and you decide to shrug it off, for the moment, anyways.


‘Well then,’ Ali says. ‘That was… interesting.’ She stands up on all fours. ‘He wasn’t as bad as I thought he’d be, for the time he was around.’


“Thankfully,” Shira says. “Had he stuck around longer, I doubt he would’ve been able to resist trying to deceive us even more.” She scowls at the vase. “And he can’t deny it now, although we all know he WOULD attempt to.”


“The question now becomes what to do with him,” Akam remarks. His expression is one of interest. “Do we leave him in the open for someone to randomly stumble across? Do we stick him in a tree, perhaps, and allow for the birds to use the vase for a nest? Do we go back on our promise and bury him again? There are countless choices, and each one has a repercussion…”


‘Good question,’ you say. You aren’t entirely sure what to do with the vase.


There are quite a few options to the question, you feel - and for once, it’s nice that you don’t have to be the one that decides the final verdict.


You do like the idea of maybe offering a suggestion or two, however, it’s simply a matter of what route to take. You could very well take the vase to the city and leave it around for someone to find - but then, DO you want to? You worry that it could be a bad idea, even if Alajeem seems ‘decent’ from your one meeting.


So, what do you want to suggest?


Do you leave him in the open? Do you store him away somewhere in nature or in a building? Do you let one of the others make the choice and go along with it? Ali looks like she’s pondering it over, and so do both of the genies, too.


You start to think it over…

Written by Hollowpages on 08 February 2021

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