Elder Djinn Q&A II
Part of you is a little annoyed internally, because of course when you have to choose something – which you have had to do frequently today, that hasn’t escaped you now that you mull it over – you find yourself unsure of how to proceed. You didn’t anticipate you’d NEED to ask a set number of questions in order to appease Alajeem, but, here you are having to work through that.
Fortunately for you, after puzzling over it for a beat, something comes to mind, and you feel it’s a fitting question to propose to Alajeem given what you know.
“Do you feel that the ancient djinn would have been able to change?” you ask.
He blinks a few times, looking perplexed. “Change? In what sense?”
You weigh over the right words. “Like… I’ve learned that djinn don’t have the same ideologies that we humans do, and I get that, back when you were free, you guys probably weren’t the nicest or the most compassionate and so on.”
“Correct,” Alajeem says.
“But,” you say, and you hope this makes sense to them (and to you as you say it, “do you think, had you never been stuck in lamps and such, that as time went on, djinn would’ve maybe grown to understand things like empathy?”
Alajeem stares at you oddly for a moment. He seems at a loss for words. Akam, too, eyes you, but his expression is more thoughtful than astonishment.
“What an odd question to propose,” Alajeem mutters.
You shrug. “Shira is a genie like you. She said herself that, long ago, she didn’t care much about people, or think much of us, but, she seems like she really is in love with Ali.” You glance to Akam. “Do you feel that’s the truth, Akam? I feel like you would know if she was lying, or, at least I’d want to know if she was.”
Akam strokes his chin. “She is not lying about her feelings, Master. She truly feels an overwhelming love for her former-Master, Ali, in ways that not many djinn would think possible. Love, compassion, empathy… these are things we inherently recognize, but, we do not often feel them for ourselves – yet I can sense it from Shira. I feel it, see it, taste and hear it from her, like an energy that constantly flows from her body. It is… fascinating to me. Beautiful, too.”
You look back to Alajeem. “Do you think that could’ve been normal for you and the djinn from all those centuries ago? I’m honestly really curious, Alajeem.”
Alajeem doesn’t answer you right away. He frowns, and looks down, like he’s pondering this himself – he takes a good long moment to think, and you judge from the way his eyebrows have knit together that he is really taking the time to consider your words, more than anything else he’s answered you on thus far.
“I… don’t know,” Alajeem says eventually. His lips twist into a perplexed grimace and he doesn’t meet your gaze. “You ask such bizarre questions, mortal. I expect you to ask things about our powers or our limitations, but instead, you decide to peer through us in a manner I did not think possible.”
“Personally,” Akam says. “I think, given the time period, that perhaps some among the elder djinn would have gradually begun to experience emotions and sensations akin to empathy. However, I strongly believe it would be more noticeable – and noteworthy – in the current age of mortals.” He chuckles. “Human mentality has changed a great deal. You are far from perfect beings, of course, yet you’ve matured and grown wiser than humans of old once were.”
You nod as you take his answer in.
Alajeem shakes his head. “I find it hard to believe that I myself would ever grow to feel these things for a human. These ‘emotions’ you have are so… tiresome.”
“I guess that’s fair enough,” you say.
“Akam may be right,” Alajeem says, and he meets your gaze again. “I imagine some djinn might have allowed themselves to experience these ‘feelings’ you speak of. I doubt most would’ve, though. They are too mortal for us, human; they make us experience sensations that we djinn do not like to experience.”
There’s a beat of silence.
Alajeem scowls. “Well. Regardless. You’ve had your questions answered.”
“Yes,” you say. “Thank you. I do appreciate it, really.”
He gives a curt nod. “Now, on the subject of where I wish to be placed…”
He frowns and glances about. “I do not like this shop. I do not like it one bit, especially because I know what owns it, both this part and the other rooms.” He sighs. “However, while I could be ungrateful – and trust me, I am tempted to be for the sake of it – I will refrain from it for this moment.” He glances behind him, to where his vase is currently, and snorts. “I am fine with this spot. I don’t want to be on the floor, nor do I desire to be shoved up in the rafters. So, there.”
Your mouth drops open a little on its own. You gawk at the genie for a moment, feeling taken aback to an almost comical degree – all that talk he had about how he was untrusting of your asking him where he wanted to be placed, and THAT is his answer? He chooses to stay… right where he was the whole time?
Akam chuckles. “You are truly something else, Alajeem.”
Alajeem says nothing. There’s no smile, no grin, nor a smirk on his face. Funnily enough, while you feel stunned into silence, Alajeem appears to be thoughtful still, as if he’s continuing to mull over your question, or something else.
You eventually shake your shock off. “Um. Well. Okay then.” You run a hand through your hair. “I guess I’ll just leave your vase where it is on the table.”
“Good.” Alajeem nods once more, and grunts. “In that case, I will be returning to my vase, if you don’t mind. I plan to get some sleep for a change, lest I be continually bothered by your incessant questions and this one’s,” he jabs a finger at Akam, “sheer mockery that he is free, and I am to remain trapped.”
Akam rolls his eyes. “As you wish, Alajeem.”
“Okay,” you say, and you are still a bit gobsmacked overall. “Thanks again.”
Alajeem frowns at you, before he gives another sigh. “I… extend to you the closest I can to humble appreciation, mortal. For the chance to offer my own voice, and for allowing me some modicum of choice, things I know I would not receive normally. I… thank you.” He bows his head. “Now begone with the both of you. I hope that creature doesn’t seek to move me from my new home.”
With that said, Alajeem transforms into smoke and flows back into the vase.
When he’s vanished, you take a mental breather – you get over your initial shock at his nonchalant (and rather easy) response to something you thought would be more troublesome, and then, when you feel somewhat content overall, you turn back to Akam now. He is floating there, watching you patiently.
“Try not to over-think or dwell too much on Alajeem’s demeanor,” Akam says, and he gives a good-natured laugh. “Frankly, I can tell from how he was acting that your mortal mentality threw him for a loop, Master – being exposed to it twice in one day likely did a number on his understanding of humans.”
“Really?” you say.
Akam smirks. “Oh, yes, most definitely. It was clear as day all over his face the entire time he was struggling over answering your questions. If anything, I’d even go as far as saying that you managed to challenge his aged expectations enough that maybe, just maybe, he’ll start to reconsider his own stance on mortals. We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out in time, but, perhaps.”
“Huh.” You glance from the vase to Akam. “What now, Akam?”
“That’s up to you, Master,” Akam replies. “Do you wish to explore the shop more? Shall we see what the cave outside possesses within, or where it leads? Shall we do the same for the giant tree sprouting out of the ground beside it? Or do we put the exploration on hold and return to your realm? It’s your choice, my friend – I am perfectly fine with following your lead, whatever that may be.”
You close your eyes and start to think: what do you feel like doing now?
Written by catprog on 20 March 2021