You sniff the air several more times to get a better register of this weird smell you and Ali have caught wind of, but it’s hard to pinpoint given the other scents surrounding you. It’s definitely different from what you’re used to, and, it isn’t at all like any other smell you’ve known.
‘I guess we can investigate,’ you remark after a moment.
Ali nods and starts to move, and you follow close behind.
The two of you circle around the perimeter of the lake, since the weird scent is fixated across it. It takes a few minutes, but you eventually reach the other side, and from there, the smell is a few feet ahead of you, coming from the forest.
You and Ali head through the trees. Your paws pad down on the soft dirt and grass, and you keep sniffing the air to follow the direction of this bizarre scent.
After a few minutes, you both come to the sight of the smell. It’s coming from a small hole of some sort that’s just nestled in the dirt - the hole is half-uncovered, a few rocks and flecks of dirt nearby it. It looks like someone - or something, like a bear or another wolf, perhaps - was in the process of trying to uncover something underground, then gave up midway through it and wandered off.
‘Weird,’ Ali says. She steps up to the hole and breaths in deep. ‘Smells very, very weird.’
‘Are you sure it isn’t just a combination of things?’ you ask.
Ali ponders this. ‘Maybe? I dunno. Shira?’
You recall that you lost track of the two genies prior to this - and right after Akam gave you this new ability, too, though he didn’t leave when Ali came over to talk - and you turn your neck behind you. The two genies float over the bushes. Akam lands to your side, while Shira lands in front of the hole.
“Oh my,” Shira says. She sniffs as well, and her expression changes. She has an odd look. “I didn’t expect to come across something like this today.”
‘What is it?’ Ali asks.
“It’s one of our kin,” Akam replies.
That startles the both of you.
‘Another genie?’ you say. ‘Underground? In the middle of a forest?’
Akam nods. He is frowning now. “It’s not unheard of to randomly stumble across a sealed jinn in the wild, as it were. Although, it’s certainly… rare.”
“Especially now of all times,” Shira remarks. “Usually, whenever a djinn gains a Master, there is… a bit of a process behind it.” She looks at you, then to Ali. “When we are in our lamps or whatever container, we typically expel a sort of… call it an invisible energy. This energy is what lures in prospective new masters, like an unseen calling card of sorts.”
“There’s no set standard for it, per se,” Akam adds. “However, it works by tugging in the mortal through their subconscious. Like casting a fishing lure out into a massive ocean with a specific form of bait - only some humans will feel the tug, yet they won’t even know they’re being tugged in until they’ve ended up at our abodes.”
‘So there’s a genie in a container there,’ you say, and you cock your head to the side. ‘I thought that genies were… I guess, um, in some kind of…’
‘Alternate, detached world,’ Ali finishes for you.
“Primarily, yes,” Akam says. He folds his arms. “It’s like a pocket realm attached to your world that we ourselves create. We do this ordinarily as a means of easing the mortal into discovering us, because, let’s face it, if a mortal stumbled onto a literal djinn in an antique store, it would likely raise more than a few eyebrows around them.”
“But as I said,” Shira remarks. She leans down to study this half-uncovered hole. “It’s been known that mortals will stumble onto djinn in the wild like this, in the literal sense.”
‘So this isn’t some kind of pocket realm?’ Ali asks.
“No, dear,” Shira says. “We are in your world still, in your wilderness.”
‘What should we do?’ you ask.
Akam seems uncertain. “To be frank, Master, I don’t have an answer.”
“There is no rule against us uncovering whomever may be beneath here,” Shira says. She shrugs. “However, if we do so, we need be careful. Either myself or Akam may know the denizen dwelling beneath the ground, but we might not know them, either. There’s a chance they could be a troublesome djinn should we decide to disturb them.”
‘Are we able to free them from their lamp or whatever?’ Ali asks. ‘Or, because the two of us have you both, does that mean we can’t?’
“You’d be able to let them out to speak, yes,” Akam says. “But they would be unable to depart from their lamp without a Master to serve. It is our kind’s rules to ensure we don’t go running amok and causing mischief. Then again, they may try to bargain with us over it.”
Shira snorts. “They could try.”
There’s a moment of silence after this has been spoken. The obvious silence is geared toward whether or not you and Ali wish to dig up this apparent jinn, as it were, which becomes evident when both Akam and Shira look at you and Ali respectively. Their expressions are calm and stoic, but curious.
“You can do whatever the two of you decide,” Akam says.
Shira nods. “We won’t intervene should you wish to let your curiosity get the best of you. It’s an entirely understandable thing, too, given the nature of things.” She snickers at this. “So, you can leave our kin be, and let someone else come across them. Or, we can unearth them to see whether or not it may be someone Akam or I know personally…”
“There are plenty of options to go off should you wish to dig them out,” Akam adds.
You glance at the half-uncovered hole and start to think.
The idea of getting to meet another djinn is an exciting one for you - you won’t lie and say that it isn’t. You’ve met Akam, and he’s been wonderful to spend time with. And, Shira has been equally wonderful in the time you’ve known her.
You admit there’s a lot to the djinn world you don’t yet know, and you kind of wish to delve more into it. But then, you also admit to yourself that… well, maybe this jinn will be different. Maybe they’ll be meaner or more cruel, and you worry that if such a jinn is found by the wrong person, then, it could spell trouble…
‘Not that it’s my place to do anything on that account,’ you remind yourself.
Either way, you are curious, but, you want to be smart about this.
You turn to Ali. ‘What do you think, Ali?’
Ali has a perplexed expression on her furry face. You get the sense she’s in a similar boat to you in your opinions - she appears to be questioning whether or not it’s even worth it. However, her interest seems to give out in the end, and she glances at you.
‘I say we find out who this could be,’ Ali says. ‘Before we release them, I mean.’
And so now all three pairs of eyes fall onto you - the choice on whether or not to continue is yours to decide, it would seem. Do you want to unearth the djinn? Or do you want to leave them where they are?
Written by Hollowpages on 27 November 2020