Elder Djinn Q&A II
You know you have only a finite amount of time to speak with Alajeem, and you don’t want to waste it – you decide to shelf the curiosity you have on genie ages (you can ask Akam about that, after all), and instead, you decide to go a different route with your questioning by focusing on something that you feel is more… befitting of Alajeem, given his own history and apparent experience.
“I think I’ll switch to a new topic,” you say. “Thank you for answering.”
Alajeem nods, but otherwise, says nothing.
“So, you’ve been around longer than Akam and Shira,” you begin, as you work through how to word the question in your head, “then I’m guessing that means you were probably around before all the events that led to your people being, I guess, uh… cursed… with being made to live in lamps and whatnot?”
Alajeem frowns. He eyes you oddly. “Mm. I would not say ‘cursed’ is the right term to use, human. To say ‘cursed’ implies that the affliction is unfortunate or undeserved in some way.” He pauses, but after a beat, he sighs. “I do not like to admit this, least of all vocally to other living beings. Yet, I reluctantly must confide that, beneath everything, including my own woes and disdain for the life I’ve been forced to lead… I cannot call it a ‘curse.’ I’d say it’s more…”
He trails off and falls silent again.
“A punishment, perhaps,” Akam offers.
Alajeem grunts. “Something of that nature, I suppose.”
You furrow your brow. “Then… you see it as fair?”
“No, not ‘fair,’ not at all,” Alajeem replies with a snort. “But, even so, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge how, to a degree, the fate of a djinn is a fitting enough one. Had it not befallen us, I don’t know what your world would be like, and I would wager you, mortal, wouldn’t want to fathom it, either.”
“What do you mean?” you ask.
“Answer me this.” Alajeem tilts his head to the side, his expression one of his own curiosity. “You likely aimed to ask about what life was like for us before we became imprisoned in our vases and lamps and other containers, correct?”
“Imagine, if you will, hundreds of djinn,” Alajeem replies, “djinn that seem male, female, both, or neither, of all manner of skin colors and eye colors and bodily shapes, all freely coming and going from the mortal sphere at will. Think of what it is we’re capable of through a mortal’s wishes or desires, then remove the proverbial chains that bind us into granting those wishes.” He smiles. “Can you fathom what such a world would be like, for humans to live among us?”
You stare at the djinn for a moment and reflect on this.
“I…” You swallow the lump that forms in your throat. “I think I can.”
“In ancient times,” Alajeem says, “we had very few rules or restrictions – we did not have ‘law’ the way mortals do now, and in truth, whenever my kin decided to deal with mortals… let’s just say the consequences varied, we’ll put it that way.”
“I’ve heard the tales,” Akam says beside you. “I was but a young djinn when the punishment fell upon us all, but I’d heard of how, ages prior to my existence, many djinn would purposefully manipulate mortals into ‘games’ wherein the goal was to see how far a mortal would go, or what limits they could conjure.”
Alajeem nods. “Suffice to say, human, on the surface, your kind’s history is similar to what you’ve heard. Wars, plagues, slaughters, and so on and so on. Yet at the fringes of those human civilizations, always looming at the furthest corners of what the average human could see… we djinn were there, living our own lives. And often, those lives included doing whatever we pleased.”
“And you had no laws against doing what you wanted,” you say.
“Precisely.” He shrugs at you. “The concept of morality, of law or order, of balance, or whatever terms you wish to use that you humans possess in today’s age; your kind in that era had some vague notion of what these notions were. We djinn? We did not. That is why, human, I say that in the grander scheme of things, it is likely… better… that we are bound as we are now.”
You absorb this, and stay silent for a pause. It makes sense.
You don’t know that you can fully comprehend what life would be like in those days, in an age where there was no technology, when there was no medicine, no concepts of the things you have grown up with – yet more than that, you can’t comprehend existing at the same time as genies, where genies, these powerful, magical entities even more alien to you than ancient humans, were free to do whatever they desired without having to fear consequences…
‘I’m amazed the genies didn’t try to take over the world or something,’ you think to yourself. ‘I’m sure with their powers and the magic they used to have… they could’ve done a lot of bad to the entire world and humanity if they’d wanted…’
Akam shifts beside you. “If I may, Master…”
You glance at him.
He offers you a sheepish, yet sincere smile. “I do not want to seem rude, but, while I am not in your head the same way now that you’re in a human form… we’ve bonded enough that I am able to ‘read’ what you think or feel, without even trying.” He waves a hand. “Thus, I can tell where your head goes, which is why I can chime in to answer the thing you were just considering.”
“Oh.” You blink. “Sure, Akam.”
“The ancient djinn ‘could,’ in theory, have attempted to overtake the world,” Akam says, and he does so earnestly. “However, be that as it may, it would have been a fruitless effort had those djinn attempted. For two reasons, perhaps even three depending on what djinn you were to ask this of.”
“What are those?”
“Bah,” Alajeem says, before Akam can answer. “I know those reasons, so keep your nose out of MY discussion, Akam.” He waves Akam off, then looks to you in a flash. “You’re wondering why we didn’t use our power to subjugate humanity, are you? Well, the first answer is a simple one – none of us ever had the desire for such a thing. We djinn did not consider using our power for something of that nature, mortal. No terms like ‘world domination’ existed for us then, and while I recognize what it means to YOU now, I have no interest.”
You furrow your brow. “Because…?”
“Because we have no need for it,” Alajeem replies. He shrugs again. “Why would we want to enslave humanity? You mortals cannot offer us much that we ourselves couldn’t possess if we wanted, and when you bring up the common tropes for why your ‘villains’ as you call them want to control others, such things have no meaning to us, either. Money? Power? Useless constructs to a djinn.”
“Oh…” You soak this in. “That… that makes sense, actually. I mean, I can see it making sense for djinn back when you weren’t stuck in lamps and whatnot.”
“Even now, it holds no true value,” Akam says. “Remember, Master – a djinn that is freed from their confinement by a mortal’s wish, no matter the sentiment behind the reasoning for such a wish, may well be free in one sense, but, they also would lose a good portion of their powers. No manner of controlling other beings would change that loss of power, and they would be stuck feeling a sense of emptiness for the rest of their existence, however long that may be.”
“What’s the second reason, though?” you ask, glancing between the two.
Alajeem answers. “If, in your ancient history, we djinn had decided out of nowhere that we wanted to use our powers to assume control over humanity and the rest of this world…” He leans forward, his expression growing darker. “…that would cause a rather massive upset the likes of which not even every djinn of that era combined could have combated, dear human.”
You stare at the djinn, perplexed by his remark. “…I don’t understand.”
Akam places a gentle hand on your shoulder. “What he means, Master, is as I said a little earlier: we djinn are not the only entities you would define as ‘supernatural’ that exist in your world. There are others; many, many others.”
Your eyes grow wide. His earlier statements sink into your mind.
“As you can see,” Alajeem says. “World conquest would have been a fruitless waste of time, power, and energy – such is the case for then, when humans were even dumber and less evolved than they are today, and such is the case for the current age, as it will always be the case.” He shrugs once more. “You don’t need to worry about a djinn deciding to enslave your species.”
He nods when he finishes, then says nothing more on the subject.
You need a moment to consider that since… well, it’s a lot to consider. It’s definitely a good thing that you don’t need to worry about some supernatural race seeking to take over humanity, of course, but now you find yourself even more curious about what else exists in the world that you don’t know about.
“One more question is what I will answer,” Alajeem says. “Then, as we agreed on our deal,” he arcs one eyebrow, “I would like my side of the bargain.”
You nod quietly, and now, you must decide what to ask for last.
Written by catprog on 14 March 2021