You weigh your options in your mind, and consider HOW you feel – your brain is still filled with questions and curiosities, so you know it would appease you to wander about the shop, or to maybe see what the cave or the giant tree have lying in wait. However, your body is not at the same level, and if anything, you’re tired. It’s been a long, long day, and getting rest sounds the most desirable.
“I think I’m ready to call it a day for the time being,” you admit.
Akam grins. “Then it shall be so. Let us take our leave of this Shard, Master, and we may resume any explorations in the next day, I guarantee you that.”
You nod and take a single step forward, pausing only briefly. “Can genies actually sleep?” You peer back toward Alajeem’s vase, which rests now on the table where you found Akam’s lamp. “Or was he just making that up?”
“We can sleep, yes,” Akam says. “It is less like the sleep you humans and creatures have, admittedly, but, it is similar enough in practice. Although whether or not he WILL sleep, I’m unsure.” He chortles. “I would not be surprised if he simply used that as an excuse to hasten our departure. He is the type to use whatever ridiculous reasoning he can conjure up in his head.”
“Fair enough,” you reply, smiling to yourself.
You follow Akam through the shop to the main door, and you reach for the handle – you grasp it, then find yourself pausing once more. You glance back and peer throughout the shop, toward the other areas you didn’t explore, and you feel… you frown. You feel as though you’re being watched, but you’re not sure from what direction. It’s not an uneasy sensation, yet it’s pronounced.
Akam, who remains beside you, pats you on the back. “Do not worry, Master.”
You glance to your genie companion.
“We have been watched this whole time,” Akam admits, and he shrugs. “But you were never in any danger, mind you. The shopkeepers, if such a term could be applied, are always keeping a close eye on any denizens whom enter their abode. If we were not allowed to be here, or if Alajeem’s vase being stored here, was an issue, trust me: we would not have been able to set foot inside again.”
You stare at him in response, but, you take his word for it.
You exit the shop, and step out into the fresh air. The sun is still shining bright above in the sky with a faint breeze and all the clouds scattered about. You swear neither the sun nor even the clouds have changed their positions at all since you first found the shop earlier that day, yet you aren’t surprised – especially not when you’ve gone through the things you’ve experienced.
‘Magic is… something else,’ you muse.
You let that slide and instead, your mind goes to getting back – you know how to make that work, and, you also decide you know how you want to do it. Why walk when you can fly back to your world, and then back to your home, you think? Flying is faster, and it’s also a lot more fun to do, so, that’s your plan.
You begin the transformation process, as you have previously: you visualize yourself in the same body as you did before, and at once, you feel your body start to change. Your bones crackle and snap and shift around inside of you, only strangely, this time around, the process seems to go by much quicker.
You shrink down in size, and you can feel your feet and toes turning into talons, your arms and hands bursting into wings. Your nose and lips fuse into a beak, and your body fixes its size as the feathers sprout out from your new wings.
In moments, the process is complete, and you reopen your eyes – eyes that are sharper and clearer, seeing everything around you with more detail. You look left, then look right, and you stretch your wings to give them a brief flutter; the feeling of having wings instead of arms has returned, and it feels completely natural like your stronger eyes and your muted sense of smell and hearing.
‘Must have felt faster because I’m getting used to this process,’ you think. ‘Helps that this is the third time I’ve turned into a falcon, I’d wager.’
“Exactly, Master,” Akam says. You turn to find the djinn nonchalantly sitting by floating in mid-air with his legs crossed. He’s now at a smaller size than he had been moments ago. He grins at you. “The more you use your new ability to transform into a creature, the faster it will seem to you, and the faster it shall be overall. It’s a boon to the wish that I neglected to mention in the past.”
You roll your eyes. ‘Why am I not surprised to hear that you didn’t tell me that?’
You flutter your wings a few times more before you take flight – and instantly, you feel the sensation of the wind on your body, and the lightness of soaring through the air. Akam is beside you in a flash, flying with the same ease you do, only without having to flap his arms to maintain his altitude.
‘I’m a little curious, Akam,’ you say as you adjust to being airborne.
“Of course you do,” Akam says with another chortle. “What is it, my friend?”
‘The, uh, beings that… own the shop,’ you say. ‘What are they?’
“Ah… a good question,” Akam replies. “You may know them by one of several possible names, but, the most common colloquial to refer to them is ‘fae.’”
Your eyes grow wide, yet you resist the urge to look at Akam. ‘Fae? As in…’
“Faerie, yes,” Akam says. “The faerie are another species born of magics the way we djinn are, yet they are far more numerous than us. Granted, there are several different branches among the fae, you see – each branch identifies differently from the others, and each possesses their own views, ideals, and standards.” He chortles a third time. “If I were to start telling you about them, Master, you would need more hours in the day. Mayhaps tomorrow.”
‘Wow,’ you say. ‘I… just wow… so fae are real. I’m guessing they’re not at all like what most people think of whenever they hear about fairies, are they?’
“Yes and no,” Akam says. “In many ways, they are drastically different from the more pleasant concept you’re thinking of – but at the same time, not all fae are similar to the other sort you might consider, too. They’re a very eclectic species given how vastly unique each branch is. You will learn soon, I promise.”
You put a hold on that thought and concentrate on your desire to return home so you can get some rest – after a moment, your gaze is drawn directly ahead of you to a thick white cloud that seems to have manifested from nowhere.
You fly toward it, keeping your wing flaps steady, and a few beats later, you fly into the cloud. It obscures your vision for only a handful of seconds; you barely even feel the urge to blink, and then you fly out of the cloud, and you no longer find yourself in the strange forest area with all its magic. No, you’re back where you were before, flying overhead in the park that leads to your home city.
The sky is getting dark now, since the sun is setting. The moon is already peeking out from some of the clouds, and you can spot stars forming – it seems you chose the perfect time to call it a day. You’re excited to get back home.
You drop lower from the sky as your eyes flick about; you take a moment to focus on where you live, but once that moment’s up, you fixate on the area.
‘Today has been… a lot of things,’ you say to Akam. ‘I’m really glad I got to meet you, Akam. Not for the wish part, even though being able to shapeshift is pretty awesome. But, honestly, you’re also awesome, and thanks to you, I got to make a possible new friend and meet not one but TWO other genies.’
“I am also thankful, Master,” Akam replies, and his tone is sincere and grateful to the very core – you can tell. “I’m truly thankful to have met a wonderful mortal, and thankful for the newfound companionship. I look forward to seeing what the new day will bring for us, my friend, and so on until our time comes to an end.”
You smile inwardly, and you drop down and start to fly toward home. It’s been one crazy day for you, but, you are incredibly happy that you ended up following the strange path in the forest, and that you went into the shop to find that lamp.
You can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store.
Written by Hollowpages on 26 March 2021
The end (for now)