Ancient Histories IV
You weigh over the things you could do for a moment, before you decide you kind of want to keep conversing with this ancient djinn - except, you admit to yourself that you kind of want to see if he’d open up about his own past.
‘Alajeem, may I ask a personal question?’ you say.
The djinn eyes you. “You may.”
‘Ali and I have somewhat of an understanding about what happened,’ you say, nodding toward the vase, ‘and why you ended up in there. But, and I don’t want to overstep any boundaries… what exactly did you do? If you weren’t the djinn that created the curse, then why did you get such a harsh punishment?’
The question takes Alajeem off guard - he blinks a few times and seems at a loss for words. Then, his features smooth, and he crosses his arms.
“Now that is a subject I didn’t expect,” he remarks. “To go from asking about the Araamakka - and there is more to it then what I’ve said - to that…”
You look at Ali, who is watching with interest.
“Are you certain you want to ask ME such a thing, pup?” Alajeem inquires. He cracks a wry grin. “You should know from your companions’ words that I, being as old as I happen to be - and let’s face it, being who I am - shouldn’t be viewed as the most ‘trustworthy’ of djinn, clearly. And really, what’s the stop me from bending the truth to answer you, if I choose to answer you at all?”
Shira snorts. “He’s right about that one.”
You shrug. ‘I suppose I want to understand what made you do what you did. And, I’m curious if you feel anything about it. If you feel remorse or regret, since you’ve had, what, centuries to be locked away, thinking about it?’
Again, Alajeem seems taken aback. He stares at you for a long moment of silence, as if he’s trying to figure out why you’re asking what you are.
He ends up frowning. “You have taken an already odd question for me and twisted it even further.”
You shrug again. You look at Akam, and find your genie is smiling thoughtfully - and with a knowing expression on his face. He doesn’t give off the impression that he’s bothered at all by your shift in topics, and if anything, he seems intrigued in what you’re saying. That’s the sense you get, anyways.
“Well,” Alajeem eventually says. He flops down onto the ground. “It’s been a millenia since I’ve been freed, let alone been able to talk to someone. I suppose there’s no sense in me complaining about it, regardless of the subject.” He shakes his head. “You want to know what I did, do you? You should have a grasp of this, as I overheard you getting the talk earlier.”
‘An ancient genie decided to curse an entire civilization,’ Ali says. ‘They became forgotten to history because of what he did, and you and some others aided him?’
Alajeem frowns. “Aided is… a strong word.”
“Is it, though?” Shira asks. “You lot were more than happy to side with him when it was discovered what he did. You made excuses for him, if I recall correctly, because you thought yourselves superior to the humans.”
Alajeem’s frown deepens. “Don’t act as if you have the moral high ground in this discussion, dear sister.”
“I’m not,” Shira says. She places a hand on Ali’s back. “Had I been present during that time, I admit, I doubt I would’ve cared much for the humans. I wouldn’t have sided with YOU, I can most assuredly say that… but, at the same time, I am not so ‘saintly’ to state I would be anything like I am today. My years of being around humans, of spending time with and learning from them, has given me a broader understanding of humanity and empathy, however.”
“Mm.” Alajeem sighs, then looks back at you. “I saw no issue in what had been done. We djinn are not like you mortals - we are separate, and I never cared for the bizarre ‘intermingling’ so many of my kin,” he gestures to Shira, “liked to take part in. Many of us believed that we were better suited to living within the Araamakka, away from this world. Obviously, that did not come to fruition.”
‘Wait…’ Ali gawks. ‘You… you mean that’s why you did it? Because you thought it would…’
“We wanted separation, human,” Alajeem says flatly. “Many of us were not fond of the way our world was connected to this. This…” He sweeps a hand around and frowns again. “This world of yours. I find it so jarringly UGLY. So many colors, so many irritating sounds and scents all over the place. The Araamakka was a paradise! A realm all to ourselves, without this disgusting ‘corporeal’ nonsense we’ve been thrust into.”
“You get used to those,” Akam remarks with a chortle. “There’s a certain pleasure in some of those senses, actually.”
Alajeem scoffs. “Yes, because you’ve been fortunate enough to not be locked away for ages.”
“Then you shouldn’t have sided with him,” Akam replies.
Alajeem gives another shrug in response.
‘You thought what he did was right, then,’ you say. You’re trying to wrap your head around all this. ‘And that’s why you were punished?’
“To put it plainly,” Alajeem says. He rolls his eyes. “All we wanted to get across was how finite you humans are - you live and die so easily, there’s no need for us to be around you. Plus, not only is this world a mess to be stuck in, and not only do I despise the sensory invasions, but!” He huffs. “I frankly detest human mindsets. You mortals have all these emotions and feelings and… bah!”
‘That can’t be ALL of it,’ Ali says. She looks from Alajeem to Shira. ‘To punish every genie in existence to be stuck in a lamp or whatever for being jerks?’ She sniffs. ‘Don’t get me wrong, what you guys did is fucked up, but, you didn’t go around killing innocent people or anything… or did you?’
Shira says nothing. Akam, too, says nothing.
Alajeem tilts his head to one side. “Ah… you say that, and yet, you are actually somewhat closer to the reality.”
‘Oh… shit,’ Ali says.
You gawk, too. ‘You mean…?’
“Mm…” Alajeem doesn’t appear pleased - he has no smirk or grin on his face, and he merely sits and glances between you and Ali. “Rather than allow you to think one thing… I feel the need to be brutally honest.” He leans forward slightly. “I myself did not claim any human lives. You can believe me if you want, or don’t, but whether you do means little to me. However, the one whom has been stricken from existence? He did.”
Alajeem nods, then continues. “We djinn are not bound by your mortal morals. We do not abide by ‘good’ and ‘evil’ as you do, which I’m sure you’ve figured out by this point. That said, admittedly, most of us, even myself, have lines that we don’t cross, for one reason or another. Our former friend? He crossed those lines, and he enjoyed what he did so much that it was his own undoing.”
He falls silent after this, as if he’s thinking.
You feel… well, you feel intrigued, of course, but you also get the sense there’s more to it then he’s letting on - he gives off the impression that there is something he isn’t being outward about. Maybe you’re wrong (you could be), or maybe you’re letting your own fondness for this fantastical world you’ve learned about get the better of you (that’s also true), but, it’s there.
You want to continue to learn - but you pause, if only to think about it.
‘I don’t want to push my luck,’ you muse.
You suppose you could learn the same information from Akam or Shira (you get the sense they’d be willing to share somewhat), or, you could continue to talk to Alajeem to see if he’ll tell you. Do you want to take the chance and keep talking to him? Or do you want to call it a day with him?
Written by Hollowpages on 05 February 2021
Ancient Histories V