The more you consider your options - and you also listen to see what options those around you suggest - the more you find yourself leaning toward a decision that, at least for you, feels right. Alajeem may or may not be the most morally ‘sound’ being you’ve ever met, of course, but even so, a deal is a deal.
And you’re not the sort that likes the notion of going back on promises.
You sigh. ‘I think it would be best we do what we promised, Ali. Let’s keep him above ground. Although, I don’t know about you, but, I don’t think a forest is the best spot for an ancient genie living in an ancient vase from a lost society.’
‘Yeah, good point,’ Ali says. ‘If someone stumbles onto it, and the right eyes see that vase, it would end up leading to people researching it. You’d get historians or anthropologists, which means more media attention… and…’
She trails off, but she doesn’t have to finish - you can tell that her concern becomes centered on Alajeem, because if multiple people discover the existence of genies, that opens a whole new can of chaos to ponder over. You don’t have the mentality for thinking or worrying about that much. No thanks.
“Fine, fine,” Shira says. “I guess even I would be remiss if I didn’t want to stick to the promise. I didn’t make it myself,” she smirks briefly at this, “but if you two feel it best, then, so be it. I do agree that leaving him out here is a bad idea. A djinn like him falling into the ‘wrong hands,’ as you mortals say, is not a thought I wish to dwell on.” She folds her arms. “But then where do we put him?”
You look to Akam. ‘What about where I found you? That… side realm?’
Akam’s eyes light up. “Ah… now that is a wise idea, Master. It would allow for a more controlled way of someone discovering Alajeem if we do that.”
“But do we WANT someone to discover him?” Shira asks.
“Don’t worry, Shira,” Akam says. “My Master and I can ensure that’s taken care of. There are plenty of ways for us to store Alajeem, I guarantee that much.”
Shira frowns at this, but, she doesn’t complain. “Very well.”
You nod, feeling good about the idea, and then look to Ali. ‘Do you mind if I take care of Alajeem’s vase? I don’t want to steal it if you wanted to.’
Ali shakes her head. ‘I don’t mind. I can tag along, only if you want.’
‘I’m fine with either or,’ you reply.
She takes a moment to ponder this, then sighs. ‘It’s getting a bit late. I’m sort of done with being in an animal body for the day - plenty of excitement already.’
‘Then I guess that’s a day for us, huh?’ you ask.
‘Yup, guess so,’ Ali replies. She smiles at you, her eyes friendly. ‘You know, I’ve never been all that great with strangers… but you’re alright.’ She winks, then giggles internally. ‘No, but, for real. It’s been fun having another person that can transform to hang out with. I look forward to doing it again sometime.’
‘So do I,’ you reply. ‘I’d say we should exchange numbers, but, uh.’
‘Hard to do when we’re both wolves,’ Ali agrees with a snicker.
“We’ll handle that,” Shira says, gesturing between herself and Akam. “Now that we’ve crossed paths, I’d enjoy catching up more with this old lout.” She smirks at Akam, who merely rolls his eyes at her in response. “We can communicate with one another without any trouble, and without any wishes needed.”
Akam nods. “This is true.”
‘Cool beans,’ Ali says.
Shira snickers before she flies down to where you are. “Perhaps we can speak more as well, next time.” Her features soften into a tender, approving smile. “I appreciate that you’ve been a kind human, dear. It’s always refreshing to be reminded that, for all the flaws mortals have, there are plenty good at heart.”
You feel your face grow warm, as if you were blushing. ‘Oh, well, thank you. I don’t know.’ You shrug your furry shoulders. ‘I do the best I can, I guess.’
“That’s a good mindset to have,” Shira says. There’s a pause from her, then she looks from you to Akam. “You should consider tweaking the wish, Akam. Let your master have a freer reign of their abilities… I’d say they’ve more than earned the right with how they’ve proven themselves, wouldn’t you?”
You blink a few times, while Akam regards her thoughtfully.
“At any rate,” Shira says, and she flies back to Ali. “Shall we, love?’
Ali nods. ‘It was nice meeting you both.’
‘Same,’ you say. ‘See you around.’
With that, Ali turns on her heel and dashes off with Shira in tow. You watch them disappear into the forest, until you can no longer see either of them.
Once they’re gone, you turn your attention to Akam. The djinn is hovering near the vase, with both his arms and his legs crossed as he floats, and a thoughtful expression remaining on his face. He seems to be mulling over something, and you wait - you don’t want to intrude on whatever it is he’s considering.
“I wonder,” Akam says eventually.
‘Wonder what, Akam?’ you ask.
“I wonder how it is that Ali was able to word her wish,” he replies. He strokes his chin, a grin tugging at the corner of his lips. “Part of me feels that, regardless of what phrasing she used, that Shira didn’t instantly give her the ability to freely change between several creatures. Knowing Shira as I do, she would’ve likely tweaked the wish to make things for fun for herself…”
You blink. ‘Do you think… she was lying when she said that, or…?’
“Not lying exactly,” he says, and he then floats over to you. “I think Shira eventually decided to gift her charge with the freedom you saw. It’s not unheard of for a djinn to do so, should they bond closely with their master.”
‘Like how you’ve given me some side abilities,’ you reply.
He nods. “I feel that she’s not wrong about you. You’ve shown to be a genuine person, Master - and I mean that sincerely. You’ve not abused the wishes, you’ve been thoughtful and considerate of me, and you’ve expressed a great deal of care for others, too. As such, I think you have more than earned the right for me to expand on your first wish - and so, I will make you an offer.”
You are a little caught off guard by this, but, you are excited to hear nonetheless - you hadn’t thought about it beyond your initial surprise (and maybe a little envy, too) toward Ali since she was less limited.
“I will remove the two benefits I gave you,” Akam says. “However, in exchange, I will gift you the ability to change your form freely - there will no longer be a time limit for you to assume an animal’s form, although there are still rules you would need to abide by. That’s proper, after all.” He winks. “Regardless, you would be able to assume five forms over the course of twenty-four hours.”
‘Does that include my human form?’ you ask.
“For fairness’ sake, yes,” Akam says. “That still grants you the ability to switch between four creatures, something I feel is more than deserved, don’t you?” He smiles. “What do you say, Master? Do you accept my offer?”
He pauses and eyes you, waiting. Now you get to decide: do you accept?
Written by Hollowpages on 12 February 2021
Making Changes II