The Wish Made
You figure you should ask the more important question of Maazi next, so, you do.
“Maazi,” you say as you collect yourself to get the question out. “What did your Master wish for? And what does it have to do with why you turned me into a selkie?”
“Aye,” Moirine says. “That’s the main reason we’re here, djinn.”
Maazi’s lips twitch before he responds. “My Master’s first wish was… one of the most peculiar among the ocean of wishes I’ve granted in my existence. I say that prior to giving you your answer because I feel I must; I have granted countless upon countless wishes, and while in eons past, I favored the most deeply selfish wishes and yearnings to warp to amuse myself, most following my… change… have been… ‘normal,’ mm.”
He waves a hand. “Regardless. Rather than bore you with the exact wording used, I will cut to the chase for once – her wish was for me to not only create a proverbial ‘zoo’ for her to own, you see, but the heart of it was also that I then willingly transform random humans I encountered into different creatures for her to add to her collection.”
Silence falls after Maazi says this.
You soak in his words and try to process their meaning (what does he mean by saying she wanted a zoo, you wonder, and why the hell would she want him to turn people into animals for it… also, why weren’t you put into this ‘zoo,’ if that’s the case?), and while you do, Moirine just stares at the djinn with a look of genuine horror on her face.
“How… how is that even something you’re allowed to do, Maazi?” Moirine asks. “How can you grant a wish that effectively means you’re free to transform innocent humans into creatures without their consent, while still remaining in service to a Master?!”
Maazi gives a shrug. “As I said, selkie: I am stronger than most of my fellow djinn. My power is great enough that I lack the same limitations many other djinn do when it comes to the level of wishes I can grant. Thus, I am able to use my magics to change humans I encounter as I see fit to, and I can transform them into whatever I desire without having to concern myself with their ‘consent,’ because doing so falls under the wish my Master asked of me.” He frowns deeply. “That is the truth of the matter.”
“Seamother preserve me,” Moirine mutters.
You can’t help being a little confused. “But… okay, if that’s the case, then…” You can’t believe you’re going to be ‘that person’ here. “How is this, I guess, bad in your world…?”
“It goes against the foundation of everything we established in the past,” Moirine says. She grits her teeth. “There are rules that we non-human entities must follow to ensure that balance is maintained throughout this world – and despite what some may claim, a majority of us abide by these rules without question. You may have the power that allows you to do this, Maazi, and it may well fall under the wish you granted, but I don’t give a shite! There’s no bloody way that a djinn should be allowed to continually transform innocent humans into creatures to appease some twisted Master’s wish!”
Maazi nods rather solemnly. “I don’t disagree, selkie.”
“You…” She pauses and blinks. “You don’t?”
“No.” Maazi’s features harden. “No matter what you may think of me or of djinn as a whole, not even I feel what I’ve done is ‘good,’ to use a suitable mortal term. Even if you remove the part of me – a part that’s grown rather large over the centuries – that feels more connected to human empathy, I recognize the fundamental flaw in being able to use my powers at random without restraint, even for a wish. But, that is my fault.”
He glances between you and Moirine. “Remember what I stated earlier… I wanted to try and rekindle what I believed I’d lost of the djinn I used to be. I sought a mortal that I knew would be selfish, and my goal was to return to my previous self. And yet, from the very start where I turned a human into something else… it did not mend my woes. I continued to do as my Master asked, but it was never out of obligation to her. No; it was because I continued to tell myself I would break away from this… perspective I gained.”
“You never did, though, did you?” you ask.
“No,” Maazi replies. “No, I did not. Not even when I turned you into a selkie did it do me any favors in stripping away this change. When you were gone, and I returned to my lamp, I soon realized the inevitable reality – the changes have rooted themselves within me. I feel more akin to human emotions now, and as I stand here before you two, I can sense those sensations deep inside my being too greatly to ignore them anymore.”
Yet he still transformed humans regardless, Fia says, once again speaking for the first time in a while – you’ve sensed her presence the entire time, but she’s been relatively silent. You get the sense she’s utterly disgusted by what she’s learned from her tone.
“How many humans have you… changed?” you ask the djinn.
“I do not have a concrete number to give,” Maazi replies. “Hundreds, at the very least.”
You frown. “Why not?”
“I tried not to think of it,” Maazi says, shaking his head. “I am not pretending as if my reasons are ‘just’ in this regard. But they are my reasons, and they will have to suffice.”
“Answer me this, then,” Moirine says. “What’s this ‘zoo’ your Master wanted about?”
Maazi regards her for a beat. “My Master desired for me to create a place that she referred to as a ‘zoo,’ although whether it’s considerably like the mortal zoo or not is not for me to interpret.” He snorts. “I chose a Shard that was not claimed by any being to use as the location – I then molded the Shard with my magics to alter the landscape in a way that would create an effective biome for her to store a vast array of creatures, including a domain for aquatic life, a domain for reptilians and amphibians, and so on.
“I should mention that she also wished it so that she could transport actual wild animals of her liking to this Shard for her little zoo, to ensure you don’t assume every creature there is a human transformed into something else.” He gives a quiet sigh. “However, a majority of the creatures were indeed mortals like this one,” he gestures to you, “but whether or not they have learned to regain their human forms… I do not know.”
Moirine grimaces. “Shite, what in the bloody hell…”
“It isn’t impossible,” Maazi remarks as he gestures to you. “But, even so, not every one of you mortals is the same.” He shrugs. “I can’t be anymore specific, not with that.”
You stay silent as you absorb this. You’re honestly still dumbfounded by the idea that someone would want a zoo for people that had been turned into animals in the first place. You can’t fathom it, but then, you also consider the fact you yourself were turned not into a seal or a walrus or a sea lion but a selkie, a mythical creature, not a normal one. And yet, you were not transported to a zoo that you know of. You don’t know why.
We should go inform the Seamother of this, Fia says. She must know at once.
Not yet, Moirine says. We need to find out all we can before it’s too late.
Fine, fine, Fia says. But keep this moving; we’re dawdling too much as it is.
“I assume you want to know the purpose of this zoo?” Maazi asks, and he shifts his gaze between you and Moirine with a neutral gaze. “Or would you rather find out where the Shard is located? My time outside my lamp is running short, I’m afraid, so I only have enough energy to remain here to speak with you for one more question…”
Shite, Fia mutters.
Moirine and you share another look.
What do we focus on, Moirine? you ask her.
I’m not sure, she admits. Part of me really wants to understand the madness of this ‘zoo’ thing his Master wished up, but I also feel we should find out where this Shard is located to find it ourselves. Do you want to decide what to ask? Or shall I decide?
You hesitate and fall quiet, unsure. You try to think it over swiftly, though.
Written by Hollowpages on 21 February 2022