‘I kind of want to still,’ you say.
A brief scare with a hunter isn’t enough to deter your rapidly growing curiosity about this whole magical world you’ve found yourself getting entrenched in.
‘Same!’ Ali agrees, and she grins.
“Very well then,” Akam says.
Akam flicks a finger, and the vase hovers over to all four of you - Akam and Shira each place a hand on the vase, and though you don’t catch it, it appears like they’re saying something in unison under their breath.
There’s a flash of light, and the vase starts to shake. It expels a burst of bright smoke, and from it manifests the genie they’ve been talking about: Alajeem. He lets out a bellow as he breaks out from the vase, only for that bellow to transform into a yawn halfway through - and after a few seconds, the genie plops down on the grass. He stretches and yawns again, groaning.
“You sure took your damned time!” he mutters.
Alajeem is a yellow-skinned djinn, with pointed ears, reddish eyes, and long black hair done up in a ponytail that seems to gradually turn into a constant wisp of smoke at the very tip. He’s dressed in long black pants, and an opened vest, exposing his large, rounded stomach, which is bedazzled by a slew of small silvery gemstones. His ears are pierced, his navel is pierced, and he has a small goatee, and thick, bushy black eyebrows.
‘Jesus, what an absolute unit,’ Ali says quietly, likely just to you.
Alajeem takes a moment to crack his neck from side to side, then his knuckles. He yawns for a third time, and stands up, appearing fairly tall compared to Shira and Akam - though you recall they can control their sizes at will, too.
“Akam al-Keedyraa. Shira al-Dhalaynuu.” Alajeem crosses his arms and scowls at the pair. “You insult me by not allowing a mortal to find my vase, then you add further insult by giving me temporary freedom from that wretched thing.” He glances at you, then Ali, and scowls deeper. “And you don’t even have the graces to bring me an unclaimed mortal. Honestly, the nerve!”
There’s a long beat of silence. Alajeem stands there, glowering like he’s about to become angrier for a few seconds… before he gives a loud laugh and plops right back down on the grass. His features grow softer, and he relaxes.
“…is what I would’ve probably said a few centuries ago, but angrier,” Alajeem remarks, and he sighs. “Ah well. I stopped caring too much after a certain point. I’m grateful for the fresh air, I suppose, so I’ll be nice and say ‘thank you’ for it.”
Akam shakes his head. “You know me better than I know you, Alajeem.”
“Bah!” Shira snorts. “As fat and annoying as you ever were, I see.” She rolls her eyes, then squints. “When did you get your belly button pierced? Were your gem-crusted fat rolls not enough that you needed to glam up more?”
Alajeem doesn’t bat an eye at the insults. “I was bored.”
You and Ali glance at one another.
‘Not what I was expecting,’ you admit to her.
‘Same,’ she replies.
Alajeem takes note of you two again and cocks his head to the side. “Two humans, both of whom have taken the form of a wolf. I can smell the magics emanating from them, too.” He seems rather inquisitive. “It isn’t often I get to speak to a human. In fact, I haven’t had a good conversation in two thousand years, I dare say. I wish to extend to you two my sincere appreciation for deciding to let me out.”
His features and tone don’t come off sarcastic or ungrateful in the slightest.
‘Oh, uh, you’re welcome,’ you say.
Ali steps forward once, eyeing the new djinn. ‘Have you really been stuck in that vase for that long? With no one to talk to and no way to get out that would, I guess, leave you weaker?’
“Indeed,” Alajeem replies. He folds his arms again. “I’ve seen a few of my fellow djinn over these past two thousand years, but did they bother showing me any sort of courtesy? No! They left me in my chains, and I’ve barely moved much save for how I ended up in that damned hole in the first place.”
‘How DID you end up there?’ you ask.
You can’t help but feel like an ancient, lost society wouldn’t be in this area - that would be way too convenient for your liking - which means that somehow, the vase must have started somewhere else. But then how would a vase…?
Alajeem gives you a rather broad grin. “Nice to see the mortals of this era have a bit more to their intellect then they did all those centuries ago. Ho!” He shakes his head. “I was overseas for a solid thousand years, perhaps even longer as I don’t really keep track of time the way you do. I’d been long buried under rubble no thanks to the decisions of my fellow djinn, who saw no reason to leave me in the Araamakka. Two earthquakes, followed by some erosion a few centuries later, and I wound up being discovered by some mortals, I think.”
He shrugs. “Merchants, maybe? I don’t recall, I just know they flung me onto their ship, and I ended up being brought to this place, your North America. But I was eventually traded a few times, only for the lout who owned me to be killed by the natives of this area, back when it was still theirs. They thought I was cursed - cursed, I say! - and I got buried underground again!”
“A fitting punishment for you, I’d say,” Shira mutters dryly.
“Yes, yes,” Alajeem says. “I only wound up in the spot you discovered because of more land shifts and rainfall, as if the world itself was eager to play with me while I was bound to my vase. My former placement was thanks to some wild beasts which saw fit to use me as a plaything, but that is unimportant!” He lets out another sigh. “I am in the open, at long last. It is… a joy, truly.”
A moment of quiet falls, and you absorb all this.
While the fact this ancient, powerful being has clearly been around a long time is tantalizing to you - just as it is for Akam and Shira, of course - something he said has you give pause. He used a word, you note, that you don’t recognize.
Ali seems to be on the same wavelength as you. ‘What’s a… Ara… mock… uh?’
Alajeem’s smile fades, and he furrows his brow. “You do not know?” He taps his chin. “Mm, I suppose such shouldn’t be expected. It isn’t common for mortals to be given the details of our realm. Excuse me, the djinn realm,” he grumbles, “since I am often cast aside from it by my former kin.”
“For good reason,” Shira says pointedly.
“I can reveal so very much to you humans,” Alajeem says. He grins again. “However, I would like something in return for it, if you decide.”
Shira and Akam both frown at this.
“Alajeem, you had best not be trying anything,” Shira says.
“What could you want?” Akam asks.
Alajeem waves a hand. “Oh, don’t be that way. I’m well aware I cannot gain my freedom, so I’m not about to ask for that. No, no. What I want… is simple.” His grin softens, and his features truly appear to grow gentle as he stares between all four of you. “When I return to my vase… What I would like is to be taken somewhere new. I don’t care if you throw me into a store, or a museum, or anything like that. But, please, for the sake of what sanity I retain… I request I not be buried or left in the wilderness. I’ve had enough of the wilderness.”
He bows his head. “If you honor this request of mine, I will answer all you wish. No tricks. No deception. No desires that cannot be given. Just that.”
He falls silent. You and Ali look at one another. Do you take that offer?
Written by Hollowpages on 29 December 2020
Ancient Histories II