There are 3 paths.
One appears to go to a jungle,
one appears to go to a cave,
one appears to go to a beach,
you could try and climb the tree,
there is a nearby shop you could go in,
or you could do something else.
So what's its going to be?
Illustrated by Catprog
Written by catprog on 01 April 2003
There is a table with a sign saying
On the table there is a fridge with a range of liquids. Also on the table are various magical trinkets including costumes. What would you like to take, or would you like to buy something?
Written by catprog on 10 April 2003
You decide to get something else. But what?
Written by catprog on 13 December 2005
You take a lamp. Now what are you going to do with it?
Written by catprog on 05 March 2004
Just then, a huge puff of green smoke appears.
The smoke forms the shape of a humanoid, then finally materializes into a turquoise-skinned man who appears to be about 25 years old. You quiver with fear, staring at him (after all, you're not used to seeing turquoise-skinned men appear out of lamps).
"Who has rubbed the lamp of the Genie of Transformation?", the man asks in a light, yet stern voice.
"I-I did", you answer softly.
He steps closer to you and bows. "Thank You, Master, Thank You!", he says as he kneels to you.
He stands. "Yes", he says. "You have released me from the Lamp, and now you may have three wishes.
The wishes carry certain limitations, however..."
"Yes, like what?", you ask again, almost bursting with excitement (having your own genie and all).
"First, there are only three wishes, no more and no less, and this may not be changed by any wishes made. Second, all wishes made by the master should be precisely worded. If the wish is too vague, then I shall choose the remaining factors of the wish. And third, all wishes must be related to the change of the master, or of someone else that the master chooses. In other words, all wishes must be transformative."
Well what are you going to wish for?
Written by on 11 March 2004
The genie’s words sink into you as you ponder them. You’ve seen your fair share of movies and TV shows with genies involved - this one reminds you of the Genie from Aladdin, but, you also know the traditional genies are… not exactly the nicest of beings. This one was kind enough to inform you that there are rules involved, at least, yet even so, you are hesitant.
“When you say you’ll ‘choose the remaining factors’ of a wish, what does that mean, exactly?” you inquire.
The genie folds his arms. “It is as I say it, Master.”
“Would you be more… specific?” You frown, and consider the proper way to phrase it. “If I ask for a certain, I guess, transformative power, but I don’t word it tightly enough, then that means you can tweak it to however you please?”
The genie chortles. “In essence.”
There is a long pause. Your lips purse, and your first wish is to get a better sense of what this whole ordeal entails. The genie, as if sensing this, stares at you for a long moment - perhaps daring or desiring you to speak the words for him to grant. Yet you don’t, and eventually, the genie offers a small, softer smile.
“I must admit, Master, you have surprised me,” the genie said. “I have known many fellow djinn before - and have experienced numerous masters prior to you over the centuries. I’ve seen men and women alike who rushed into their wishes without stopping to think about the ramifications. You are likely pondering whether or not I am a malicious djinn, aren’t you? A trickster that you’ve read or heard about in your media for ages?”
You shift somewhat. “I mean, honestly, kind of. There are movies and kids shows with good genies, but, the myths always tend to…”
“Point toward the opposite.” The genie’s smile grows. “Out of necessity, and to ensure you grant your wishes, I will throw you a proverbial bone: I am not what you consider ‘good,’ Master, but nor am I ‘evil.’ The whims of a djinn are his or her own, yet to make it simpler for you to understand: most of the time, we base our own actions off the character of the Master making the wishes.”
You blink a few times. “I see. So if they’re a jerk, you’ll be more inclined to twist their wishes?”
“Mm.” The genie dithers. “Not always. It is not so much the external, though yes, that does play a factor - rather, we can see beneath. We read the heart of the Master, and we understand why it is they make the wish they want. That is not to say every djinn will be tempted to be kinder to those who make wishes for morally sound or logical reasons, but,” he shrugged, “it isn’t unheard of.”
“You’re obviously a very wise and honest genie,” you say, and you don’t mean it to be overly complimentary - it’s just how you think. “I imagine if I were rude or disrespectful, it would be an insult to you.”
The genie’s eyes darken. “A grave one, yes.” His tone does not betray the fact he means these words - dangerously so. It is enough to make your throat go dry, yet, the genie’s features soften after a moment. “But you are… decent, Master.” He smiles again, and he seems to mean it in a general sense rather than a fake or forced smile. “For that, I am appreciative.”
You are still hesitant. But, before you consider your first wish, you think of something else from your knowledge of genies and their usual predicaments.
“Do you desire to be set free?” you ask. The old Disney movie comes to mind.
The genie is surprised at this. “I…” He frowns, as if you’ve completely thrown him for a loop he wasn’t expecting. “That isn’t something I’ve ever considered. I don’t know that freedom for a djinn would mean the same thing you may believe it to. But…” He trails off, and sighs. “If you are hoping to free me in an attempt to earn my favor, Master, you needn’t. Please speak your first wish.”
You relent to this since you don’t want to waste the genie’s time given the fact, well, he’s a genie. And so, you start to think for real on what to desire.
It has to be transformative in some way, but, you don’t know what way the genie means it. You also don’t want to test this being’s patience, however, so, you think of the first thing that comes to mind. But! You also ensure you word it the right way, thus you take a moment to phrase it in your mind first.
When you’re ready, you speak it: “I wish to be able to transform painlessly into any animal I want without losing my humanity or self-control, and without having to worry about being trapped in that form forever.”
The genie eyes you for a long few heartbeats. You are hoping that you’ve done a good enough job being specific about the wish, without any nasty loopholes the genie can exploit. You can’t be sure if this genie is going to be the petty or mean-spirited sort, after all - he seems to be nice overall, but, he’s a genie, and you know from speaking to him that you could seal your fate if you say the wrong thing…
“A curious wording, Master,” the genie remarks after a moment. He is thoughtful, stroking his chin as he mulls your words over. He smiles then. “Very well, this wish shall be granted. But!” He again eyes you with an unreadable expression. “You have left it open enough for me to tweak it to my whims.”
Your heart nearly skips a beat. ‘Oh no.’
Written by Hollowpages on 02 April 2020
“First,” the genie says, “you desire it to be a painless transformation. That is fine, and because you’ve shown me decent respect, I will ensure no physical or emotional pain befalls you during the process. You have also specified not wanting to lose your humanity or self-control - that is also fine, but you will be gaining new insights and abilities, those befitting the creature you choose.”
You watch, waiting. So far, those don’t sound too bad…
“Ah, but, now comes my fun,” the genie says. There is a glimmer in his eyes. “I will grant you not lose your intelligence or moral compass, Master. However, while you have said you don’t want to be ‘trapped in that form forever,’ you did not specify a time limit. So! You will be given the power to transform into any creature you wish… at a cost!”
The genie’s hands sparkle. Energy bolts surge about, and they aim at you. You can’t even blink before they strike you, and you feel the warmth surging about your whole body. You yelp in surprise - it isn’t painful, no, but it’s a wave of strange tingling that erupts through you, and it’s definitely not a sensation you’re used to experiencing.
“There,” the genie says after a moment. The sparks have died down, and the warmth dissipates. The genie is pleased. “Your wish has been granted. As I have a modicum of like for someone like you, Master, I will now inform you of the caveats: there are three rules you will obey, and you cannot change them without using another wish. Though, mind you, that might add more on.”
You stare at your hands a moment. You don’t feel any different right now on the surface, yet there’s a sensation inside the pit of your stomach - like a tingling of some kind.
You swallow the lump in your throat. “What are the rules?”
“First: you will be able to transform into any creature,” the genie says again, holding up one finger, “but, Master, you must choose wisely: the instant you choose a form, you will be in that form for…” He pauses and thinks a moment. “Two hours. Yes. Two hours exactly, no sooner - you cannot change back or to another creature until that two hour time limit is over, and that includes your turning back into a human.”
You blink a few times, absorbing this. “So, I can turn into one animal, but…”
“Say you turn into a wolf,” the genie says, rolling a hand along with the words. “You will be in the form of a wolf for two hours. When that time limit ends, Master, you may return to your natural state. However. You will not be able to change into anything else for another two hours.”
It dawns on you, and you nod. “In other words, if I want to experience different animal forms, I have to choose that versus turning into a human again.”
“Correct,” the genie replies. He folds his arms and nods. “The second rule, Master, is this: you cannot change into the same animal twice in one day, nor can you change into the same species twice in the same day.”
Now your eyes go wide. You start to panic internally, wondering if that means--
“Ah, ah,” the genie says, shaking his head. “I am not so cruel as you may feel. Fear not, Master: what I mean is not related to your human state. I simply mean you cannot become an eagle once, then later on, decide to become an eagle again - this relates to technical species terms. You can become another avian, but it must be a falcon or a hummingbird. That is what I mean.”
You feel a bit of relief at hearing this, at least. It means you don’t have to be afraid of being stuck in an animal form for too long, though you admit internally that two hours… Well, you suppose it isn’t a terrible time limit. It gives you time to enjoy what you’ll become, if anything else, without having to be afraid of the idea of an invisible ticking clock looming over your head.
But then, you also recall…
“What’s the third rule?” you ask. You brace yourself for that one.
“In order for this wish to continue, you must use it at least three times a day,” the genie replies, holding up three fingers for emphasis. “This is a gift, Master - a power the average mortal could never hope to gain for themselves. And so, if you don’t use it, then you squander it entirely. As such, you are to use assume three different forms every day to keep it active.”
You nod slowly. “Alright then. Oh, but, how does…?”
“It work?” the genie finishes. He chuckles. “Simple: envision the creature you want, and you will begin the shift. But be warned: you cannot change your mind when the process begins. Perhaps try it now, Master, hmm?”
You nod again, since, it makes as much sense as it’s likely going to.
With that in mind, you think for a moment - what sort of creature would you want to turn into first? There are countless choices, but you consider some of your favorites - you think first of a falcon, since the idea of wings and being able to fly at high speeds sounds awesome. You also consider a wolf, like the genie suggested, because wolves have always been a favorite from your childhood. But since the rule of three seems to be a thing here, you decide to consider a third choice… something strong, yet graceful… a lynx.
With those three ideas, now, you have to decide which to start with: a falcon, a wolf, or, a lynx?
‘Choices…’ you muse.
Written by Hollowpages on 03 April 2020
“Okay,” you say, having made your decision. “I’ll go with falcon.”
The genie nods. “You must visualize yourself becoming the bird. Picture the exact breed, and envision your body turning into it. Then, it will be so.”
You take in a quiet breath, hoping this works and doesn’t blow up in your face.
You start by envisioning the falcon, like the genie said. Falcons are sleek, beautiful birds, you feel, and you know the peregrine falcon is one of the best - and the fastest of the lot. You picture one in your mind, and then, you picture becoming one. Mere seconds later, you feel things start to change - they aren’t painless, but you can and DO feel them taking place rather abruptly.
Your fingers begin to elongate first. You feel your body starting to shrink, too, and feel your clothes ripping away. Your shoes and socks are torn through as your toenails stretch out, and you soon see sharp talons spring from the tips.
It is a rather fast process altogether. Your clothes are torn, bursting and shredding themselves as your body shrinks down to a much smaller size. Your arms stretch out, feathers sprouting from all around. It’s like getting a massage, almost, you feel; even though this massage is turning your hands into the fused ends of wings now growing and blooming feathers all about.
Your nose and lips elongate and fuse, then harden into a beak. Your eyes grow larger, your sight growing much stronger with it. Your feet have morphed into talons, and within minutes, you are now a literal peregrine falcon on the floor. Only shreds of fabric and bits of what used to be your clothes remain of what you used to be at your feet.
You can think, and feel, and hear the same. Your eyes are sharp, yes, yet your sense of smell is somewhat dulled. Still, you are thankful for the fact you can actually control yourself as you turn your head, glancing about the surroundings.
“Well done, Master,” the genie says. He shrinks down to better match your size, and he smiles. “You’ve managed to successfully transform! And into quite a lovely specimen, if I might add.” He looks at you with genuine appreciation. “A peregrine falcon. A noble hunter, a swift sky warrior. Wise decision indeed.”
You blink - a sensation that feels odd - and realize now that, well, you can’t exactly speak any longer. You attempt it anyways and your voice is a harsh caw. You can’t string together words, though, since you lack lips and the vocal means to do this.
The genie chortles. “Ah, don’t fear, Master. You cannot speak the words any longer to me, but, I have granted you a secondary trait to alleviate this. As you can see, I am more considerate than you might’ve felt.” He winks. “You may telepathically speak. Think the words, and I shall hear them. Try it.”
‘Think the words? Like this?’
“Precisely,” the genie says. “Now then. It would be cruel of me to demand you make your second wish so soon, Master, especially now that you’ve transformed yourself for the first time.” He smiles. “So, go on and experience this new body you’ve been granted.”
You tilt your head about and notice a window - an open window at that, wide enough for you to get through. You are, admittedly, rather excited about the prospect of being able to fly, although you don’t know HOW to fly.
You start by testing your wings - your arms, as it were, yet lighter, and also somehow stronger. The feathers attached to do not register to you beyond feeling like hair attached to these new arms, meaning, very faint. Still, you can feel them as you move your wings up down several times in a row.
After doing this and feeling like you understand how these wings work - in theory, at least - you decide to give it a shot. You flap them with a great deal of strength and try to jump, and you manage… to get about a foot in the air before you flop onto the floor rather pitifully.
You pick yourself up somehow, despite lacking hands to do it for you. You hear the genie chortle behind you, and you sign internally. This will prove to be far more difficult then you expected it to be, it seems.
“A word of friendly advice for you, Master,” the genie says. “Do not force yourself to adapt to these new bodies. Rather, you must allow the innate instincts of these creatures to come to you. Close your eyes, and relax - allow yourself to FEEL like a falcon, and you will find it to come to you with ease.”
You ponder this for a moment before deciding, well, why not?
You close your eyes and relax. Your heart beats quicker, yet, you feel your body calm, and as you stand there, you begin to feel… something. It is a stirring sensation that bubbles in you, yet it feels in your mind like you are already in the sky, soaring among the clouds. The freedom of the air, the feeling of wings beating in rhythm with your heart, the lightness and speed.
These are what you feel, what being a falcon means in your head.
With this in your mind and your chest, you open your eyes. You straighten your wings out, and with a single, smooth wingbeat, you manage to push yourself off the floor to the windowsill. You feel the lightness to your body and the wind under you even from such a short distance. When you land, you feel the air on your bare body, and you understand now what it means to be a falcon.
“Well done, Master,” the genie says. “If you wish, I can join you on your flight. Or I can stay here. Do let me know, yes?”
Written by Hollowpages on 04 April 2020
You glance about the outside area, taking in the forested location. You ponder about whether or not you would want the genie to be with you, but, after a moment, you decide that having magical assistance could be of some help.
Granted, you know the genie may not help you without being an actual wish first. Still, you wouldn’t mind the company.
‘Yes, genie, I would love to have you join me,’ you say.
The genie gives a jovial laugh and then flies through the air over to you, shrinking down even smaller as he does. He lands on your upper back, right behind your head, yet he is so small, you hardly feel him there.
“You know,” the genie says, and he sounds rather gleeful now, “this might be the most fun I’ve had with a Master in a long, long time. You are the first to actually ask for me to come with them - I might actually like you, Master.”
You would smile if you could, but, as you can’t, you simply focus forward.
It takes a moment for you to maintain that same sensation inside of you that you did before, but, when it feels like it will stay proper, you take off. You leap from the windowsill and your wings stretch out, then flap with enough strength to push you up, and up, and up.
And within moments, you are aerial, flowing through the sky at last. Flying.
It is a remarkable feeling, one that words cannot do justice. You soar through the sky at great speed, your wings flapping now and then, keeping you balanced against the currents of the air itself. It is breathtaking, truly, to feel lighter than air itself as you zoom forward - it’s almost like swimming in a way, you think, in how it works, except rather than working against the water to stay afloat, your ability to stay in the air is much, much easier.
‘This is… wow,’ you think, more so to yourself.
The genie, who has been silent for this time, gives a small chuckle. “Indeed it is, Master. Perhaps it is best you are a human choosing this path - you possess the ability to understand and appreciate these boons in a way no creature could. I am glad you wished to retain your humanity for this wish, truly.”
You decide to be a bit daring and dip down, thrusting your body at an angle toward the trees you’ve been soaring above. You shoot down rather abruptly, your body dropping with ease at the angle you wanted to - and though you shoot with a great speed, you thrust your wings out and start to pick yourself up before it’s too late. You avoid hitting the trees, just barely, but still.
You admit that there’s a frightening aspect of this, but holy hell, is it fun.
You begin trying to really test the limits of this new body and your new abilities by seeing how fast you can fly. You flap your wings, up and down, up and down, as hard as you’re able to, and you pick up a good amount of speed.
You feel like a bullet - you rocket through the air, clearing a mass expanse of trees with little effort whatsoever, though your wings do protest a bit after a moment of hard wingbeats.
You take a moment to relax them and instead glide, leaving your wings out, yet not forcing them to move up and down. It’s strange - the sensation of having your wings, your arms, out like this doesn’t bother you. You simply ride the wind current as you gradually begin to descend in height, dropping little by little until you’ve neared the tops of the trees below you.
‘What a strange area,’ you think.
You hadn’t noticed it before, or, maybe you did but you sort of forgot (and really, who could blame you when there was a magical genie standing before you, that wasn’t something you saw every day) how weird this whole locale was. You’d been walking about when you happened upon the area where you wound up running into the genie, which itself seemed to appear out of thin air.
Now, you were in the actual air, flying for real, and you wondered how long this whole wooded area went on for. And where did it even come from in the first place?
The genie chortles, and you’re surprised to hear him again.
“Magic is a very intriguing concept, Master,” the genie says. “There is a great deal at work here - it goes beyond what you can comprehend, I’m afraid. Suffice to say… when you have internally decided you’ve had enough of this area, and wish to return to where you came from, then it will be so.”
You turn your body and start to descend a bit more, keeping your eyes peeled for the weird shop. As you do, you ponder these words.
‘Is this part of your magic?’ you ask.
“Hmm. No.” The genie sounds odd as he answers. “This goes beyond me. I am but a portion of it. It’s difficult to explain, to be honest, in a way you would understand. Do know that you aren’t trapped here, Master. I, however, am.”
You frown, or at least, in your head you frown at this.
“Would you like to return to your area?” the genie asks. “Or remain here?”
You slow your flight and come to a perch on a tree branch. As you rest there, you mull this over for yourself. You aren’t sure, really, which is best.
Written by Hollowpages on 14 April 2020
After thinking it over for a few minutes, you decide you want to return to your ‘area,’ which you assume somehow means the city you came from. But then, you do feel for the genie - the way he speaks makes it seem like he’s trapped in this location, and you kind of wish for him to come along with you.
‘Tell me something, genie,’ you say. ‘Am I able to use my second wish to allow you to come with me?’
The genie is, again, quite surprised at this. “I… believe so, yes. But, Master, surely you wouldn’t want me to come along. I am not a human - I am an interloper, a creature with a vastly different sense of morality compared to you and those you live around. I don’t know why you’d want me with you.”
You would shrug if you could. ‘I know you may not be this genuinely benevolent being, genie, but, you’ve been very fair to me so far. You didn’t curse me with any big twists and turns, and you actually gave me some advice. So, I would be fine with you tagging along. Plus, it’s better than being stuck here until I return for those other two wishes, isn’t it?’
The genie is silent, thoughtful, and after a moment, he sighs. “You make a good point, Master. A point I never thought I would hear from a human - but, I respect it. Yes, if this is your second wish, then…” He pauses. “You must word it correctly, however. I still have the rules I must follow as a djinn, you know.”
You ponder this. That’s right. The genie said the only wishes he grants must be transformative in nature. But as you think this over, you note that, well, there are ways to get around that. And since the wish would be beneficial to him more so than yourself, perhaps that might be enough to avoid any sort of tricks or loopholes - you feel he might stick to that, after all.
You choose the words, and this time, you iron out a good phrasing internally.
‘Genie, I wish for you to become my personal, genuinely helpful guide for anything I struggle with or need help with, and with you possessing the ability to come with me wherever I go, but also the freedom to go wherever you want unless I specifically ask you to stay with me, at which point you will resume being that guide until I relieve you of your duty.’
The genie falls quiet for a moment. Then, he gives a jovial laugh. “My, Master, you are very fast on the uptake when it comes to phrasing. Ensuring I am free enough to go where I please, but also specifying ‘genuinely helpful’ for the guide portion. In other words, you give me the favor of being able to leave you, with the caveat being you can summon me back should you need me.”
You say nothing, and instead wait, and listen.
The genie floats over to hover in front of you. He has his arms crossed, and is still the small size he has been since you first took flight. He smiles at you.
“You are showing a selfless nature by gifting me freedom,” the genie says. “You still have me as your genie for a third wish, and, given the wording, you seem to wish me to be your personal guide even after that. I do not know if I will remain, to be quite honest. But, I do like you, Master. I appreciate the consideration you’re giving me - a vast amount more than I’m used to.”
His hands begin to glow, and he again shoots you with bolts of energy. You feel the same warmth, though this is briefer.
“Your wish is granted, Master,” the genie says. “I will sincerely guide you to the best of my ability when you ask me to. Though I could spin things in a way to better benefit myself, I will instead simply invoke a loophole into your phrasing: the nature of that which you might ‘struggle with or need help with’ must be severe enough to require my assistance. I will not guide you for a mundane action, or a simple decision, Master, only one where you genuinely need me.”
You can’t really see a reason to argue with that logic, mostly because, well, you don’t exactly know that you’d need a genie’s help for anything normal anyways. The only thing you have to wonder, though…
‘How exactly do I… go back?’ you ask.
The genie smiles. “Simply fly back to the shop where you found me. Find that, and it will be a matter of following the path you took. Do remember that you are timed with this, Master - you cannot revert back to human until two hours are up.”
You blink. ‘How will I know when the two hours are expired? And… erm. When I turn back, my clothes will be…?’
The genie pauses at this. He appears thoughtful. “Regarding your clothing, you will regain what you were wearing. That wasn’t specified, mind you, but, I am kind enough to ensure you don’t reform into a human naked.” He smiles and winks at this. “As for the time… that is something to consider, I suppose.”
You are a little… unsure about that one. You hadn’t thought about asking that when you made the first wish, nor did you consider it with the second. And with one wish left, you have no idea if you’ll need that wish for something meaningful or not…
The genie gives a small sigh. “But, as this is considerably severe enough to require my help…”
He gives you a look, and you know what he means. You’re relieved, internally, at this. Thus, you don’t need to worry, and now, you simply need to consider whether or not you wish to return to the shop, or if you want to keep flying in this area. Back where you were before, but, with answers to help ensure you have less to worry about. So. Now to decide what to do…
Written by Hollowpages on 15 April 2020
You decide, after feeling the wind brush over your face, that though you are enjoying the freedom of flying about this area, being closer to home sounds like a better idea for the time being - and it’s more familiar to you, too. Thus, you opt to take off and search for the shop where you found the genie.
The genie returns to his previous spot before you take off, and then, you’re in the air, flapping your wings with a gusto and pushing above the treeline again.
‘How does this place work exactly?’ you ask. ‘Will I be able to return here?’
“Ah, yes, Master,” the genie remarks. “Finding it is fairly simple - now that you’ve been here once before, you need only think about it when you are out and about. A path will open up for you, and take you back. As for how it works… well, it’s tailored in part to you and the choices you make.”
You are confused, but also curious, as you soar about, gliding at a reasonably high pace while glancing to and fro. You are a bit surprised that you don’t see any other birds flying around, yet this is shelved, since your main focus right now is finding the shop. Still, you soak in the genie’s words.
“This place is… a world attached to yours,” the genie says after a moment. “Imagine it a separate plane hidden away from the normal world you inhabit. It is one where reality and fantasy blend in many ways, and it opens only to certain types of individuals. You are not the only human to venture here, nor will you be the last. How did it come to be? Where does this magic come from? I do not know, and I have existed for many, many lifetimes.”
You glide through a few clouds. ‘Where did you come from, though?’
The genie chuckles. “A fascinating question. I have no answer. I truly can’t tell if I came to be some day by the whim of this place we are in, or, if I have always existed. Time has no meaning to me. I know that many centuries have passed while I have existed, and I have worked with many Masters. Some were cruel, petty, or stupid. Others were pleasant, like yourself.”
‘Do you miss them?’ you ask. You are curious, sincerely, in knowing.
The genie remains quiet for a moment before answering. “Not in the way a friend or family member misses a loved one. To me, they are past acquaintances. But, I suppose there is some fondness for the good ones. They dance through the nethers of my mind, now and again. That is the truth.”
You can tell that he doesn’t wish to continue on the subject by his tone. You decide to respect that, and focus instead on locating the shop. Fortunately, you soon see it in the distance, and so you fly toward it. Your wings feel natural to you now, and as you near the shop, you begin to second guess whether going back is the better option. You’re having quite a bit of fun, after all…
Written by Hollowpages on 16 April 2020
Well, after mulling it over, you decide to keep on with your previous plan. You fly toward the shop and descend when you’re closer to it. Once there, you circle about and notice the path you took to get to the shop.
You drop lower, fluttering your wings very slowly to ease the descent. Once you’re low enough, you begin to follow the path. It is a strange, empty path, one that weaves about. Yet after a few minutes of flying low through it, you begin to hear familiar noises - the noises of a city, of cars driving about.
Moments later, you break from the wooded area and find yourself now flying into the city - a familiar sight for sure. You steady yourself and pick your body up, flapping your wings to push upward on the current. The wind seems a bit stronger now, you note, but it isn’t so bad that you can’t fly against it.
You keep going until you stop, and you perch on a building’s roof. You then take in the sights with your new, stronger eyes - and you see much, and strangely farther than you expected. You even notice pigeons and other small birds - there’s a group of pigeons chilling on the ground a few yards away, and a handful of small robins scattered about.
“So this is what your realm looks like now,” the genie says. He seems equally intrigued and perplexed at the same time, and he hovers down to stand beside you as he looks around. “I have not been able to witness the strange growth of your kind for a long, long time now. How things have changed…”
You eye him, curious to hear more. You enjoy hearing about this being.
He crosses his arms. “The last time I truly was able to explore your world was… I would say over a century ago, perhaps two. Technology was nowhere near this level.” He shrugs. “I wonder what it would be like to live among your kind. I did that, you know, for a time. It was… enlightening to say the least.”
But he offers no more after this. You don’t press, and instead, you take in the sights. Your mind wanders - being this high up, despite the fact you’ve never been a huge fan of heights, you don’t have that fear now. You feel without the fear of falling you would possess, and you imagine having wings helps.
‘It’s kind of cool to see a city from up here,’ you say, and you wonder what you can get up to now that you’re a falcon. A thought pops into your head. ‘Genie, you said I’m not the only master you’ve had, and that there are other genies. Am I the most recent one for you? Are there others like you? Like me?’
“So many questions,” the genie says, yet he sounds quite amused rather than annoyed by that. “You are the most recent, yes, Master - my previous one was… I would say two years ago, perhaps. As for other genies? Oh yes - many djinn are here and there, yet they are hidden from the plain-eyed. It is a process to be able to come across one, my friend, another thing I cannot properly articulate to you. But yes, there are many about this world.”
He floats over to you. “And to answer the last question? Yes, as a matter of fact, there are others like you. I am one of a number of djinn whose specialty is transformation. You may very well be looking at a human with the power you possess, or, you may come across an animal that is in fact a human in mind.”
This fascinates you. ‘How will I know?’
The genie considers this question. He seems to be dithering on something, but what that is, you don’t know. After a moment, however, he smiles and extends a hand out to you toward your eyes. Your eyes go dark for a second, then, he pulls his hand back. You blink a few times, and nothing has changed?
“I have decided to gift you two abilities, Master,” the genie says. “Neither are tied to your third and final wish - consider them gifts from me, for being courteous and thoughtful of an old djinn. I don’t do this normally, but, I like you, as I said before.”
‘What have you given me?’ you ask.
The genie grins. “First, the ability to see time. Simply focus on your desire to know how long has passed from the moment you transformed, and an astral clock will manifest before your vision for as long as you need it. It will not hinder your direct line of sight, and, it will remain with you as long as you will it.”
You blink. That sounds immensely useful, you note.
‘Thank you,’ you say.
“And the second is a similar gift of vision,” the genie says. “Concentrate your sight, and, you will begin to see the world in a different way, in a way I can and often do. You will be able to see the auras of all living beings, Master. And it is the aura that will tell you what you wish to know.”
The genie hovers near your shoulder. “A pale blue aura will denote an untouched person - someone who has never seen magic of any sort. Pale yellow will be the same, but for creatures - animals like those pigeons below. A pale green aura, however, will denote a human who has been touched by magics. They will be able to sense and see you, as you do them, though they may possess different traits. And pale red? Pale red will be a creature, yes, but it will be human, too - gifted transformation by some other means.”
You absorb these details and nod. ‘Thank you, genie.’
“Try it, Master,” the genie says. “Try your vision, see if any below are like you.”
You do so, concentrating at the cityscape beneath you. And after a moment, you begin to see auras - an array of auras, little glows all about. At first, you see simply blue ones, but then, you suddenly notice one that is green…
Written by Hollowpages on 17 April 2020
‘A green aura…’ you muse, and you narrow your eyes, feeling them concentrate further and closer toward the faint green flicker. ‘That means a person that’s been with a djinn, right? Or maybe they have a djinn with them?’
The genie chortles softly. “I doubt they would have a fell djinn on hand the way you currently have me floating about with you. It is not UNHEARD of, mind you, that some masters are gracious, or, they allow their djinn to come along with them. But it is more common that the djinn in question is likely far from them, if they even have a djinn any longer at all.”
You blink, and cock your head to the side. ‘What do you mean?’
“Many humans who come into contact with my kind tend to use their wishes up and that is that,” the genie replies, shrugging. “Despite what you may think, it’s actually a simple process - while not every djinn is affable or even sound by human moral standards, most are, nevertheless, bound by their own oaths and codes to ensure they grant the wishes asked of them, provided these wishes adhere to our basic rules we all follow.”
‘I see,’ you reply.
You ponder this, but, you also find yourself feeling a bit curious about this pale green aura - it is travelling away from you, and with each passing moment, it gets further and further away. You decide you want to investigate, at least from afar to start with, so you ready your wings and, after a pause, you take off.
Your wings feel light and strong as you fly from your perch, speeding through the air at a speed you wish you could muster as a human - the sensation of feeling the wind beneath you, and the freedom of feeling so airy, are equally things you cannot describe, but greatly enjoy.
‘What happens to a djinn after the three wishes are used up?’ you ask, as you scour the teeming city beneath you, and notice all the different blue auras flickering about - a sea of tiny, calm flames, you think. It’s rather beautiful.
The genie is at your shoulder and responds. “When a master has fulfilled their three wishes, the djinn will return to their original home - that being their lamp, or, in some cases, another housing unit. Think… like a vase, or a bottle, even.”
‘A… bottle?’ you reply, confused. Again, you think of the Disney movie, and recall the words that Genie used. ‘Isn’t that… I dunno, cramped?’
The genie laughs jovially. “Oho, Master, you are thinking of the movie, I see. In reality, the home of a djinn is not as uncomfortable. In fact, within the confines of our home, we are able to use our powers freely - think of the lamp as a separate realm from this one, one where there are less rules. There we are able to alter the very fabric of our reality to suit our needs, which allows us to, among other things, watch the outside world and experience the new discoveries you humans gain as time goes on.”
You dip down toward the streets beneath you, and you spot the green aura not too far ahead. You slow your flight, however, to a steady glide, for your curiosity and desire to understand more outweighs the immediate curiosity of coming across whomever this person may be.
‘Wait,’ you say. ‘So your lamp is… it’s like another world entirely, and you can use your magic to do whatever you want?’
“Yes, within reason,” the genie replies. He has a smile in his voice. “In my lamp, I can do many things - I can change the scenery to an empty void of nothing, to a lush forest with a babbling brook, to a splendorous mountain in the clouds. I can generate food of my choice to feast on, or drinks to indulge in. I can create furniture, or technology that exists in the human world, and I can even access your world wide web or watch your various television shows. I can even view the past when this technology didn’t exist, if I were so inclined.”
You are amazed to hear this, and it fills you with even more questions and wonders. You try to steady the influx of thoughts rushing through your mind, of course, lest you lose focus entirely and end up dropping out of the sky, or crashing into something you weren’t paying attention to.
The genie continues with that smiling tone of voice. “Now even with this, there are still limitations - I cannot actively free myself from the lamp, for starters, nor can I bring anything living into the lamp with me. And, I cannot create sentient flesh and blood beings - I can generate a sort of, shall we say, illusory person or creature to interact with, but that is the scope of the average djinn.”
‘Oh…’ you muse, and you lower yourself slightly more as you inch closer toward the green aura - you notice it’s someone in a vehicle, so that makes it a little easier to keep track of them in the air. ‘It sounds like it would be fun, but, it also sounds lonely. And to be stuck in something for… months? Years? Ages? I don’t envy you that. I honestly feel bad you would have to live that way.’
The genie is silent for a moment before speaking, softer now. “Your consideration is touching, Master. But it is not as unfavorable as you believe. We djinn are accustomed to being in solitude for ages. And to be fair, we don’t experience time the same way you humans do. In there, there is no such thing as time, so what you might experience as a decade, to us, would be no longer than a few minutes, if that.”
You ponder this with fascination, of course, but decide to shelve it away for the time being. You instead direct your focus toward the car that is quite close to you, and you finally end up flying above it. As you do, you recall the genie gifting you the ability to see time to find out how much time has passed since you began this.
So, you concentrate as the genie said to do - and an astral clock manifests before your immediate field of vision. The clock shows that, to your astonishment, it has been over an hour since you first transformed!
‘Wow,’ you say. ‘Time flies… Or… Oof, I’m not even going to finish that thought.’
The genie chuckles. “You have approximately twenty minutes remaining before you may change your form into something else, Master. So the choice for what to do now is yours still: do you wish to pursue this current quest, to see what sort of person has been touched by magic like you? Or would you rather explore the city more with the freedom of wings before you decide?”
You soak these words in, and you mull this over for a moment…
Written by Hollowpages on 06 July 2020
You admit that you are inquisitive about seeing what sort of person it is that has been touched by magic like you - but, after a moment of flying there in sync with the car, you decide you would rather enjoy the freedom of flight a bit longer instead. Besides, you think, you have to consider what you’d like to turn into next. And, along with this, you feel you can stumble onto this person, or someone else like it, in the future.
For now, you veer away from the car, and you halt the ability of yours to see auras since you’d rather just fly around the cityscape.
“An interesting choice, Master,” the genie remarks. “But a fair one nonetheless.”
You flap your wings, and your mind wanders a bit as you soak in the warm sun’s gleam upon your back. You really enjoy this sense of freedom - birds have it best, you feel, if this is what they experience when they fly.
‘Tell me something,’ you say after a moment. ‘Earlier, when I mentioned setting you free as my third wish, you said that freedom for a djinn isn’t the same as what I imagine it to be. What did you mean by that?’
The genie is silent for a moment, but you wait - you can feel that he is gathering his thoughts and perhaps choosing the way he wishes to answer.
“To be perfectly honest, Master, many djinn do not desire to be ‘set free’ like that,” he replies eventually. His tone is calm, and there is an underlying current of thoughtfulness to it. “It is because we would not know what to do with ourselves, I suppose - and because the freeing of a djinn would sever their connection to much of their powers. In a way, it is almost damning a djinn to free them, though there are circumstances where that isn’t the full case.”
You steady your pace, and glide for a bit on the currents of wind that carry you like unseen hands.
‘Really? I… hadn’t thought of it that way before,’ you admit. ‘You lose your powers entirely?’
“Mm. Not entirely, no,” the djinn replies. “Our power is split into two forms - that which we possess naturally, and that which is tied to the lamp we live in, or the vase, or whatever it is we call our abode. If we are ‘freed’ in the sense you are thinking, then our lamps become inactive. They lose the power they held, and in doing so, we lose access to that portion of our abilities.”
You glide to the left, tilting your body as you fly around the side of a building.
‘I see now,’ you reply. You understand what the genie is saying - it makes sense why he would decline wanting to be set free like that. ‘So you lose your home, and you lose a portion of your powers. But you retain some of it?’
“Yes, Master,” the genie answers thoughtfully. “I think, worse than losing our home and a portion of our innate powers, however, would be that we lose our purpose. We djinn are bred by magic to create magic - it is in our essence to use our powers for whatever means we need them for, and that is primarily in the form of granting wishes.”
‘You have no choice in the matter?’ you ask as you right your body.
The genie chuckles. “Master, you are truly a fascinating human to converse with. I have spoken to some much like you, and I always enjoy it. Your curiosity thrills me in ways I cannot articulate through words.”
There is a pause, and you can sense that the djinn is going to continue, so you wind up spotting another building free of birds for you to perch on. You dip down and fly toward it, waiting for the genie to continue his explanation.
“Ah, but, to further your desire to know more,” the djinn says, “the ‘choice’ you ask of is not a part of the process. We know our lot in life is bound to our powers, and to using our powers for others. I feel no obligation to be freed of this, nor do I feel any inherent desire to change this, either. Because to me, granting wishes for humans is not a chore, nor even a duty - it is a part of who I am, of what I am. And I know this to be the case for all djinn. It’s innate within our makeup that we think, feel, and operate this way, if that helps explain.”
You eventually arrive at the building and stop to perch. The djinn’s words echo inside of your head, and you soak them in.
‘I think I understand,’ you say. ‘Then, for djinn, it’s not a matter of… free will, I guess?’
“Free will does not exist in our vocabulary,” the djinn replies, and he floats to hover before you so that you can see his calm, oddly gentle features. “We have no term for this in our society, and frankly, many a djinn finds the notion to be terrifying.” He pauses to stroke his chin. “With exceptions, of course.”
You nod and absorb this. It has been a fascinating day to learn about these beings that you never once expected to exist. To find that magic is indeed real, and that the djinn that exist have their own rules and codes is just… well, as a fantasy lover, and someone that enjoys dabbling in reading or appreciating any sort of fantastical medium, it’s basically a dream come true for you.
“Now then,” the djinn says. “I hope I’ve sated your current thirst for knowledge for the time being, Master. I find myself to be curious, in fact, as to what form you will be taking when the time has ended. Which, so you know, will be rather shortly. You can probably fly down to a secluded area in the woods there, and by the time you’ve landed, and decide, it will have been two hours.”
You blink, then turn your head to the area he is indicating, a small wooded area that you think might be where you came from in the first place. Perhaps you went in circles? You shrug this off, and, you decide to take off to do just that - and you drop down toward the forest as your mind wanders.
What will you turn into next?
Written by Hollowpages on 08 July 2020
e, not for a while to the west.’
The genie’s smile doesn’t falter. “Snow is for those that live the most comfortably in the tundras and the frozen landscapes - big or small, they are at home in the ice. Stone, similarly, is in relation to mountains and caves, Master. Many creatures do their best in these settings, like bats or species that prefer higher altitudes to lower. And dust, well, that is for the desert creatures, the ones that thrive in dirt and sand thanks to their genetic evolutions.”
‘Oh… I see. So sort of like their respective biomes,’ you muse.
“Precisely,” the genie says.
‘Does that mean, when you say ground, that it’s… ground as in… underground, I take it? Sort of like moles or lizards or whatever lives in burrows?’
“Yes, Master,” the genie replies. “Creatures that prefer to live beneath the earth in some capacity, to me, are their own separate realm, and thus, you can consider it a realm of potential to choose from.”
‘And I take it wood is…’ You dither a bit. ‘Wouldn’t birds be considered wood, if they make nests in trees?’
The genie shakes his head. “Wood in essence is those that live in trees but cannot fly, Master. Or that is how I think of it. Do keep in mind that how I, a djinn, see these realms is not how it is in nature, nor do I expect you to latch onto these as if they were your best choice. Think how you wish - I merely want to offer another perspective is all.”
‘I see,’ you say, and you do understand. ‘What are the other two?’
The genie folds his arms and nods. “Dark realm is not some nightmarish thing despite its sound - no, when I speak of this, I refer to nocturnal creatures, those who flourish when the sun has set.” He winks. “And the small realm is for insectoids, to creatures that are small in size, and view everything as much, much larger than they are to your human eyes.”
‘Now I understand…’ you reply. ‘I don’t think I would’ve considered these as ways to, I guess, separate the different animals. But I sort of get why you might do that. Thank you, genie, for the advice.’
And thus, the genie falls silent, and you begin to ponder what creature you desire to become next. You have many, many choices, you know this, and you also know you could realistically return to being a human being if you wanted.
The genie’s rules are simple enough to follow - if you use this power three times a day, you will continue to have it in the next day, and so on. That, you feel, is easy enough because six hours out of every day really isn’t that big of a deal. Plus, the genie made it clear to you that you can pick and choose when you want to turn into something over the course of that day, too, so that helps.
You mull this over, and, you decide for sure that you aren’t really interested in becoming an insect. You’ve never been the biggest fan of bugs, to be honest, and you feel that being so small, you’d be a little helpless to deal with animals around that eat bugs - or humans that happen to dislike bugs and might desire to smash you flat.
And since you are not near a body of water, you don’t desire to turn into a sea creature - not yet, at least, although you consider this for the future one. The same goes for anything that lives in the snow or in deserts - neither of those are anywhere close to you, and you’ve no interest wracking your head for that sort of being, at least not in the current moment.
‘It isn’t close to nighttime yet,’ you muse.
That meant no nocturnal animals, lest he have a hard time moving or seeing. And though the wood realm was an interesting way to consider it, you admit you don’t see it as a separate entity from the land realm, so, you let this one slip away from you for now.
Thus, you have three choices you can actually see yourself taking: a land creature, a creature that lives underground, or, returning to being a human.
Written by Hollowpages on 11 July 2020
You sift around between the different possibilities before your mind ends up wanting to be a land animal over the other two - returning to human form is easy, and, you feel no rush to do that yet. So, why not experience the life and abilities of an animal with four legs for a change? Now the only thing is deciding what sort of creature you want to be.
You mull this over, but then you recall something the genie said earlier on when he was explaining the rules of the wish you’d asked. Namely, you remember the animal he gave as an example, and latch onto that idea.
You like wolves. Wolves are one of the animals you’ve always liked since you were a kid, and why wouldn’t you like them? Wolves are cool - they’re gorgeous creatures, they look and sound awesome, and they are essentially a bigger, badder dog, or that’s how you looked at it when you were younger, you suppose. Either way, you decide that is the animal you wish to transform into.
‘I think I’ve made my choice,’ you say. ‘You mentioned a wolf as an example before, and to be honest, I find myself sort of gravitating toward that.’
The genie chuckles. His expression is one of unsurprise. “Master, I am quite pleased you would choose it, mostly because it’s one of the more common picks among those whom are granted similar powers using a wish. Wolves are majestic, and revered, and I’ve heard they’re quite fun to… play as.”
‘Is it the same as before?’ you ask to be certain. ‘I envision myself as a wolf?’
“Yes,” the genie replies. “Will yourself into the body of a wolf - imagine yourself becoming one, imagine its features as yours.”
You close your eyes and begin to envision a wolf. You know of several different breeds by nature, but, around here you know wolves aren’t exactly a common sight. But you envision a gray wolf, a gray wolf that looks as… gentle as possible, perhaps even like it could be a mixed breed since those exist.
You then begin to feel the transformation coming.
Your body grows first, elongating outward. You can hear the bones cracking and even feel them, faintly, snap and crack and tear. Yet like before, it is a painless process. You find it strange to FEEL it without really feeling it, but, you mostly absorb the sensations in wonder since there is no pain or discomfort.
Your body grows and grows, thickening, as your wings begin to shrink in size and the feathers start to fall away, scattering to the ground and then vanishing into the grass. Your body grows wider still, and larger, and with it, your bones and your muscles expand and stretch out as well. Your legs - the talons you have merge into a single stub as you feel toes sprout out, and as this happens, your wings - or rather, your arms now as the wings are no more - fall to the ground, growing long and then forming paws just like your feet have become.
You feel fur begin to grow, as your head begins to bulge out and stretch out. Your beak crackles and splinters as your nose and mouth jut out in its place - nostrils bulge and flare as numerous smells hit you at once. You breathe in, and you can smell so many things, it’s almost overwhelming. Your head is spinning, but you are somehow able to remain in complete control over this, and despite an urge to freak out, you can ignore it, because you’ve done this before.
Your eyes become larger and longer - and though your vision weakens slightly since you aren’t a falcon now, you see just as well, and possibly see even more than you did moments before due to a larger field of view, or so you think of it that way. That is when you feel your ears blooming from the sides of your head with a newfound, sharper sound of hearing hitting them the instant they finish. It is sudden and strange to hear so much better, but, you adjust.
You feel teeth break from the gums, drooping down and saliva bubbling on your longer, stronger tongue. And at last, you feel a final part of you from your other end - a tail, long and bushy, swaying there as if it were a part of you all along. It all feels natural, and yet new, at the same time.
At last, the shift is complete. You are no longer a falcon that soars with speed and grace through the skies - no, you are a wolf, a prowling hunter blessed with sharpened smell and hearing, fangs, and fur.
You stand there on all fours, four legs that you wiggle the toes of to better feel the grass beneath your new paws. You have claws that arc out from each paw, like fingernails, but you can tell these are sharper and a bit more… menacing. You feel so very strange on all fours - it’s going to take some getting used to, yet you are overcome with excitement, along with all the new sensations.
‘Wow,’ you think.
You take a moment to look around and breathe in, smelling so many different scents that it takes a moment within that moment to really gather all this in, to separate all the smells so you can better understand what they are.
You can smell the grass, and the trees - both the wood of the trees and the leaves in them give off their own scents. You can smell flowers not far from you, their aromatic scent wafting in the gentle breeze that ruffles your furry body. You can also smell the city - you smell the pavement, the exhaust left behind by the cars driving by, and people! You can smell a variety of things that combine to form what you know in your chest to be humans - sweat, perfumes, fabrics, and food smells, all fusing into a strange mass that is… familiar.
“A lovely choice indeed,” the genie says. “Well done, Master. You have transformed into a handsome specimen, if I do say so myself.”
You blink, and turn your head to find him hovering there. You are surprised to find that he, too, has a scent - he smells of… some sort of incense. It is spicy, with a tang to it, yet not at all unpleasant. You blink again and eye him, and you also note he is smaller than he was before, because you are bigger now.
‘Now then, I…’
You pause and blink, and you turn about. You are still in the normal world, your world, and you are also in a city where there are people and animals and cars.
And you are a wolf.
Not exactly the best creature to become when you are in a place where people might freak out at the sight of you. You ponder this, because you don’t want to hurt anyone, nor do you want to get chased after by any animal control centers or anything like that. You had not thought of that, so, you realize you need to decide what you want to do next…
Do you ask the genie for advice? Do you use that third wish you’ve not tapped into yet? Do you perhaps return to the proverbial Narnia you came from, to be able to run about freely?
You wrack your brain to decide.
Written by Hollowpages on 13 July 2020
You are far away enough from prying eyes that you can, at the very least, experiment with moving on all fours as you think - and you do so, taking the time to see how to walk on four legs. You recall the genie’s advice when you were trying to learn how to fly, and, you thus don’t worry too much and let your body and mind move in tandem with one another instead.
One step with a front leg, then one with a back, and then the other front…
‘I mean, I’ve tried to do this as a human, but…’ you let this musing trail off, because this feels separate from that because your body is different now.
One leg, one leg, one leg, one leg; one at a time, in tandem, making walking motions. You tell yourself this and try to do this as you think it - definitely out there for you to consider, but, like growing wings and using those, you aren’t about to give up yet since you’ve got plenty of time to live as a wolf and learn.
Plus, it’s fun, because it’s all so very new and exciting for you. That’s a bonus.
It takes some adjusting, naturally, but after a few minutes of careful attempts and pacing yourself as you trot around in small circles that gradually grow bigger in size (though you stay in the same area), you manage to get the hang of walking about on all fours. Even with two additional legs, you find it isn’t super hard. Strange, maybe, but not hard when you understand how to move properly as a wolf.
‘Woo,’ you think, and you stop. You can feel your body is warmer now, and you find you are panting slightly - this helps cool you off, funnily enough.
“Nicely done, Master,” the genie says, and he sounds earnest in this praise. “Learning to walk is an integral part of a new body like this - but now that you have grasped it, I imagine you will now go out and explore the world as a wolf, yes?”
He sounds eager to find out what you will do next - as if any step you take is interesting to him. His features show this, and you don’t see, nor do you sense, that any of it is forced or even insincere. He has proven to be very considerate toward you, as he says you are to him.
So, you cannot lie to him, nor do you want to. ‘I’m, um. I’m not sure, honestly.’ You lie down on the grass, feeling the softness against your belly and chest - it feels rather nice. ‘I don’t know what to do with myself now.
“Having trouble deciding what to do next, Master?” the djinn asks. He does not sound bothered or upset at all by this. “That’s alright. There is no rush, truly.”
He has been following along with you, floating by your side in silence up until seconds ago in fact, though his gaze has never left you. You have not yet figured out your course of action, but, you decide you value his advice - he may very well request you use your third wish, but, you like conversing with him, and thus, you decide that is best.
‘I’m a little nervous to venture into the city as a wolf,’ you admit, and you stop to eye him as he hovers in front of you. ‘I kind of didn’t think that far ahead. Wolves aren’t really normal in cities, and I don’t want people to get freaked out I’m some deadly wild animal. Do you have any advice, genie?’
The genie strokes his chin thoughtfully in silence.
You cock your head to the side. ‘Actually, you know… I feel really bad. I don’t think I ever asked your name before. Do you have one I can use, instead of just calling you genie or djinn all the time?’
This startles him. He eyes you with, again, astonishment, and it takes a moment for this to gradually wear off. He eventually smiles at you with a very serene, yet earnestly appreciate glimmer in his eyes.
“You continue to amaze, Master,” the genie says. “I do have a name - and it is not often I am asked what it is. You may call me Akam, Master.” He bows, and then looks at you with that same thoughtful stare as before. “Normally, I would not do this sort of thing, but for those who treat me with such decency and care, I go out of my way to help them how I can. Should you wish to remain in this area, in your world, and explore, I can use my magics to ensure you are able to do so freely.”
You feel a rush of excitement at hearing this. ‘How would you do that?’
The genie smiles, and his hands begin to crackle with electricity. He aims his hands at you, and the electricity arcs out and strikes you in a painless burst of flashing light. Your vision returns seconds later, and you shake your head.
“There,” Akam says. “To the naked eyes of the average human, you will appear as a harmless dog with a collar - and they will feel no desire to call any authorities on you, either. Rather, you will appear as a dog simply heading in the direction of its owner. Think of it as a magical deflection, if you will; it tricks their minds into playing off seeing you, while also masking your true form.”
‘Thank you, Akam,’ you say, and you are indeed very grateful for the genie’s generosity in helping you.
“Ah, but, a warning,” Akam says, holding up a finger. “Bear in mind that you can still see auras, Master - and should you come across another like you, or one that has dealt with a djinn before, they will see you for your true form. I cannot hide you from those who have been touched by magics, is all.”
‘Understood, Akam,’ you reply.
With this, you feel less wary and far more brave in being able to fully explore the world as a wolf - and so you set your sights about and leave the shadowy area you were lingering in. You started to prance forward, moving at a casual pace on all fours - the bonus of having two additional legs is that you cover a bit more ground than you can as a normal human, you notice that right away.
‘What would you like to do, Akam?’ you ask the djinn as he follows along.
Akam chortles. “Master, you are far too kind to me. This is your new body, your abilities - your wish, as it were. You decide where you wish to go. The city is vast, and I’m sure you can discover a lot about your new abilities as a wolf regardless of where you head.” He pauses, then, after a moment, he smiles. “I suppose if I were to offer a suggestion, you could go to the park to your left.” He sweeps a hand that direction. “Or, you could go to your right, as I believe there is a beach a little further that direction.”
He gestures that way as well, and you think it over. A park or a beach…
Both sound like fun ideas to you since you enjoy both locations depending on the day and the weather, and you admit that you wouldn’t mind seeing how they are as a wolf. No doubt tons of smells and possible creatures to come across one way or the other. You look right, then left, and think to yourself.
Do you want to feel the grass beneath your paws? Or smell the lush scent of the sea instead?
Written by Hollowpages on 16 July 2020
You sniff the air for a few seconds, and, after you mull it over a bit longer, you decide that the park sounds like a nice place to visit first. Plus, you know the park Akam is speaking of - and it isn’t that far from you. You’ve been there before to have picnics and just to kick back and relax on nice days like this, so why not go there as a wolf and see what it’s like, if it’s any different?
You turn left and head that direction, breaking out of the wooded area entirely and walking onto the pavement. The surface is hard and somewhat grainy beneath your paws, yet still flat and relatively pleasant once you get used to the feeling of concrete instead of dirt and grass.
Of course, you are not alone - now you are in the city proper, and there are cars and cyclists, and plenty of people walking about, both coming toward you and heading the same way you do. You don’t feel nervous or afraid, however, especially since no one that looks at you seems to see a wolf, or at least react as if they were seeing a wild wolf trotting about their streets. (Granted, you muse that some people would assume a wolf was just a normal dog, perhaps, and you know there are people out there that might come up to you, either way…)
‘Good thing I don’t have to worry about that,’ you think. You don’t want that hassle right now, honestly. You just want to explore.
A few people glance at you and react with smiles or giggles or coos - even a rather burly, bearded man seems smitten by you as though you were an adorable puppy.
You are… kind of flattered by it, you suppose - you recall what Akam said would happen thanks to the magic he used on you, so it makes sense people would react to you so positively since they don’t see a scary wolf. But it isn’t a big enough problem that you feel bothered by this attention, especially since no one stops to pet you or to talk to you (not that these would bother you, you admit they wouldn’t, and you do wonder what being pet feels like since you have fur now).
That aside, you keep onward, trudging past people as you head toward the park.
Then, minutes later, you finally get there, and it seems… so much more lush and grand then you last remember it being. You step onto the grass and you are hit by a myriad of new scents - scents that strike you as strange, but familiar at the same time, for they have an odd flavor wafting about that you can’t really put a word to. You breathe in, and you can smell a number of them.
And then you spot, in the distance, a few people with dogs, some playing fetch or with a frisbee with said dogs. Your nostrils flare, and it clicks in your head that these dogs are what you’re smelling - this is their flavor, as it were.
“So you know, Master,” Akam says. He has been quite silent thus far, but you have the sense he’s been content to explore and observe with you. “Animals will take to you a bit differently now that you are one among them. But, well…” He smiles at you. “You might find you can understand them a bit better, too.”
You look up at his hovering form. ‘Do you mean I can talk to animals now?’
He chortles. “Something like that, I guess you could say. It isn’t so much that you can talk to them like in television, unfortunately, but you can communicate with and understand animals like you a bit better. It is a side effect of the magic, in truth: it lets you comprehend their various noises as words.”
You nod slowly and venture forward, feeling the grass beneath your paws again - it feels so very soft, and you can also feel the dirt as your paws dig into the ground from each step. The wind blows over you, carrying all the different smells, and all the sounds, too - the sounds of people shouting and cheering and the sounds of their dogs barking and… speaking?
You pause and listen, for to your ears, you can hear both the sounds you expect from dogs, yet along with it, you hear words, too, fused into the barks.
“Ball! Throw it, please! Throw!”
“Yes, let’s play! Play, I’m so excited!”
“Is that mine? It smells good. Is it mine? Is it?”
These are some of the things you hear, and you feel a little enthralled to be hearing the voices coming from the dogs themselves - that, and, you are also kind of amused. It seems those internet videos you see all the time might be more correct in how dogs think than they might be aware.
‘I wonder how they’d interact with me,’ you say, since you are an animal like them now.
Then again, you don’t know if the dogs would recognize you as a wolf or as a human or as something else. Akam didn’t comment on that prior, but you don’t mind finding out for yourself. You’re curious, and, you don’t think it would be any harm to see how that could go…
‘Akam, how do I communicate with them, exactly?’ you ask. ‘Do I just… erm. Bark?’
“You will see it better up close than for me to explain,” Akam replies with a playful look. “Trust me on that much, Master.”
You roll your eyes at this response, but, you don’t mind so much that it’s not really an answer at all - he isn’t wrong, either. So, it comes down to whether or not you want to go up to these dogs to have a chat. Do you?
Written by Hollowpages on 17 July 2020
You end up choosing to try to have a chat with at least one of the dogs running about, mostly because you’ve often wondered what it would be like to speak to a dog that understood you in full. You know that it won’t be a simple feat, as Akam made that clear when he said it himself - but, hey, you’ve got nothing else to do right now, so why not try?
Your mind is ablaze with how this will work. You’re excited, to say the least.
You trot forward, closing the distance between yourself and the humans playing with their dogs. Of the dogs in the park, one seems to notice you quicker, a Golden Retriever - it turns to look at you and tilts its head to the side, appraising you with an inquisitive stare - you can tell that it is wondering what you are, and you yourself wonder how it is seeing you right now.
The Golden Retriever slowly moves from where it was standing, and comes toward you, its tail wagging and its nostrils flaring. You halt, and it stops a few inches away from you, still staring and sniffing to try and deduce what sort of dog you must be.
“Smell odd,” you hear it say amid a soft bark. “Have a strong human scent.” It looks around curiously. “No human near?”
You pause to think of what to ‘say’ to this dog, and how to even ‘say’ it in the first place. You suppose you can try to, well, speak the normal way.
You let out a bark - a somewhat deep bark that you feel resonate from your throat as it leaves your mouth. And to you, the bark sounds like what you imagine a wolf barking sounds like. But there is no words to it, and you feel at a loss as to how you can articulate that despite your desire to communicate.
The Golden Retriever’s ears perk up. It eyes you. “What?” it barks out, and it moves closer to sniff you more. It gives a tiny noise that seems to turn into the words you hear next. “You sound strange, very strange. Not like others I have smelled or heard before. Deep bark, deep scent. You don’t smell of this park.”
You try again, but you try to actually use words while willing them out of you. “I…”
The word escapes you, and you hear it clearly, even if it sounds like it was growled out. The Golden Retriever perks up and stares at you, waiting with a strange sort of patience that, to you, registers as it not only having heard and understood you, but also that it recognizes you have more to ‘say’ to it.
‘This is so weird,’ you think.
Akam chuckles. “You are doing well, Master. Try again.”
You do so, and you try again to speak to the dog like you were speaking normally. “I… am… not dog. Not… like you.” You let the words fill the air, then, you finish up with a truth for the moment. “I am… am a wolf.”
The words sound like your voice, you hear, just deeper, more guttural. They are mixed in with the bark you let out, but it seems they have done the trick - the Golden Retriever looks at you again with the eyes of something that has registered what was just spoken, and it stares at you for a silent instant.
“Wolf dog?” it asks, with a low bark. Its nostrils flare and it leans in to smell you closer. You feel a strange urge to bare your teeth at it getting so close, but, you ignore this urge and let it sniff you since the dog is harmless and not threatening you at all. “No wonder you bark low and smell different.” It cocks its head at you, and utters words that seem to come from its lips without any barking or growling. “But strange wolf dog. Scent is still more human than like me or others. Not wild, no. You smell different.”
You are fascinated by all of this - it’s so cool to be talking to a dog, you feel all giddy inside, like a kid in a candy store. It’s a little silly, you know, but, you don’t care right now about that.
‘So is this what dogs are actually saying?’ you wonder aloud. ‘Or is it because I’m a wolf that I can understand this dog so well in the first place?’
“A little of both,” Akam replies, and he hovers about your shoulder. “Animals speak their own languages - normally, you would recognize the tenor of what it is this pup is trying to communicate. But as I said, magic is helping you better translate its words to your own ears, as your words are translated to its.”
The Golden Retriever turns to face the direction it came from, then turns back to look at you quizzically. You think you hear its owner call for it, but you can’t be certain since your focus is namely on the dog in front of you and what it might do or say to you next.
“Do you want to come play?” the Golden Retriever asks with a slight whimper. It paws the ground and boofs a happy noise. “Master is fun. I like playing with new friends, wolf dog.” It cocks its head to the side and studies you. “Yes? No?”
You are touched that the dog wants to play with you, and, you think it might be an interesting - and fun - experience. But as you think, you catch wind of something: a scent. Yet this scent is different than the dogs, then the grass and the humans. It is strong, and potent, and its scent burns at your nostrils in a way that leaves them tingling. It’s carried on the wind, and you turn your head to follow the scent. It’s not far from you.
‘What… what is that?’ you ask Akam. ‘That scent is… it’s different.’
Akam responds with another smile in his voice. “That, Master, is one like you… a human in the form of an animal. You are smelling the flavor of magic. They aren’t far from you right now, should you wish to have another attempt at speaking to someone whose world has changed as yours has.”
You turn toward the curious Golden Retriever, then back toward the new scent. What do you do now, you wonder? You can stop to play with this rather sweet dog - and you can tell you would not regret choosing this option, as the dog eyes you patiently and wisely. You like dogs, after all, so you imagine it would be very fun. And yet… your curiosity is also tugging at you to go the other way and to find this person…
To find someone that is like you, and to see what they are, and what they’re doing with their wishes; this would be equally fascinating and fun, you know it in your gut. You can’t decide, though! You want to do both, but you can’t.
Both ideas sound good… but which do you want to choose?
Written by Hollowpages on 18 July 2020
You decide after a moment of thinking it over that while the Golden Retriever is friendly, and sure, you would enjoy being able to play with dogs, you are a wolf, and not a dog. And, more than that, you want to continue to explore - but you also want to see what it’s like to meet someone else like you.
You turn and bolt toward the direction the strange scent is coming from - you can hear the dog yip once behind you, but, you pay it no mind since you know the dog will be happy either way.
No, your focus is on the scent.
You breathe in fast, your stronger nose filling with all manner of smells that you recognize - you ignore the obvious ones, though, and focus only on the one that Akam said belongs to someone like you. You try to put some words to the flavor as you run down the street, moving around any passerby in your path.
To you, the flavor seems to have a rather sweet profile, almost like a birthday cake or the inside of a candy store, yet there is a bite to it - a spicy undertone that leaves your nose tingling with each sniff you take, and it’s this undertone that seems to grab at you. It’s not the same as mouthwatering food, or, as the smell of some meal you really love, but it’s a jarring sort of contrast.
‘Is this what magic smells like?’ you ask Akam.
The djinn is on your back, chilling there since you feel no sense of duress from him. He chortles as you turn to the left and arc down a street with the scent getting steadily closer to you.
“To a degree, I suppose,” Akam says. “Magic’s scent is a rather lush bouquet, one that indulges in several different flavor types that don’t often mesh well together. But that is partly because of the form you’ve assumed - were you human, or some other creature with a weaker sense of smell, the scent would not be the same at all.”
You don’t take a moment to ponder this since you’re currently on the move, but you do register his words and tuck these away for later, possibly. In the meantime, you come to a bit of a problem in that the scent is closer, however, you have to cross the street if you want to trail after it.
You stop at a crosswalk and notice that there are people on the opposite end of you, but, no one directly across either direction, nor anyone right where you are to hit the crosswalk button. You can’t exactly do it yourself since you’re on all fours, and, you don’t want to lose track of the scent because you want to see what this person could be like - a potential friend with magical abilities, or maybe someone that can offer insight into this new world of yours. Either way…
‘Akam, if I may ask you…’ you say, and you look up to see him sitting at your shoulder now. ‘Would you be open to hitting the crosswalk button for me, please? If you don’t, that’s fine. I don’t expect you to do things for me just because I ask you.’
Akam eyes you for a moment before he smiles. “That you are so considerate is enough of a reason for me to hit a simple button, Master. This isn’t a laborious task whatsoever - some djinn would be lazy and decline, but not I!”
He laughs and springs through the air, flying to hit the button.
Seconds later, after a few cars have driven by, the crosswalk flashes on - but it does so on all four corners. You take this as a sign that Akam is likely using his magic a bit, and you bolt down the crosswalk directly to your left, the run past the oncoming people to go down the second crosswalk.
Your nostrils flare, and you catch the scent again, as if it’s beckoning you.
‘Thank you, Akam,’ you say to the genie as he flies beside you.
He nods, and you take off again to follow the scent.
It is even closer now, and after a few minutes of running down the street on all fours, you finally come to a less busy section of the downtown area, and in fact, you find the road you’ve been going down leads to another, much vaster park. Not a park for kids to play and pets to run off their leashes, no, but an actual nature park that you remember going to and walking around countless times before.
The scent is there, and you run toward it, exchanging the coarse textures of the pavement for the softer texture of dirt and grass within seconds.
‘I’m getting close…’ you think.
The scent is almost burning your nose by this rate, but in a way that isn’t painful - no, it is letting you know how strong it is, because you’re there.
At last, you come to a stop, and as you peer down a lush trail that splits off into several directions - you can smell and hear people walking about one way, and there is a couple having a picnic on the grass to your left, but your focus is on that scent - you finally spot them. You are surprised when you see a fox spring out from the shadows of several thick bushes, a silvery fox that darts the opposite direction from you. You think you see something flying beside them, too, but they are quite fast, so it isn’t easy to see.
‘Is that a djinn?’ you ask.
“It is indeed,” Akam says. “And it’s one I know!”
You want to inquire further about that, but, you hold off. Instead, you dash after the fox scampering away from you, and you feel your legs exerting themselves in full as you even manage to pick up some shreds of grass with your movement.
“I don’t believe they’re running FROM you, Master,” Akam remarks as he zooms beside you. “It might be that they are simply running is all. I feel it’s more obvious when someone is fleeing from another, don’t you think?”
You slow your pace slightly, and you brush past a person jogging on the path that the grass dips into. You don’t want to run into anyone, nor cause any scares, so you pace yourself as you keep your senses attuned primarily to the fox - it’s still quite a ways ahead of you, but not so far that you’ve lost it.
‘I guess I’m just excited,’ you admit. ‘To meet someone else like me, and to meet another djinn. I hope their djinn is as awesome as you are, Akam.’
Akam lets out a quiet sigh. “Ah, Master, you are too kind, truly.”
Moments pass, the fox shoots through a row of trees. You follow its footsteps and come to that same row of trees, but when you break through it, you find yourself in a much bigger wooded area, with more trees that are spread about and yet, still clumped close together. Your nose has not lost the scent yet, no.
But now, you must decide how you want to pursue this fox, if you want to continue.
What do you do?
Written by Hollowpages on 19 July 2020
You ponder it for only a short burst of time before you decide, since you’ve already gone this far, that you’re eager to get a chance to speak to this person. And so, you take off after them, you tap into the new abilities and the new body - you may appear to be a dog to others, but, you aren’t just any dog: you’re a wolf.
A wolf is bigger, stronger. Your legs pick up speed with each passing second, and your paws dig into the ground, kicking up little bits of dust that sprinkle behind you while you dash down through the grass, following after the fox.
‘What can you tell me about the djinn with them?’ you ask.
You push through the trees that the fox ran through, and end up in a small, miniature forest of sorts given how many trees there are jutting out from the ground all around you. But you move forward, moving briskly, yet cautiously since you’ve got less room to maneuver around.
Akam chortles. He’s flying beside you with ease. “Her name is Shira. She’s one of the few djinn I know personally since we’ve encountered one another numerous times over the ages with different masters. She’s… I would define her as a more morally ambiguous djinn, I suppose, but she has a kinder heart than she likes to let on. She enjoys her trickery, though.”
You ponder this, but, you ponder it on the side since your focus is trailing after the fox. The seconds tick by, and you loop around and between the trees, only to come to a stop when the trees open up to a small clearing.
You stop and look around. There are no signs of the fox, no signs of any footprints on the ground, either.
‘I’m starting to think maybe they’re aware I was following them,’ you muse to yourself and to Akam. ‘I think they don’t want to be talked to, otherwise… I don’t know, wouldn’t they have stopped so we could chat?’
Akam strokes his chin in thought. “I didn’t feel any sort of fear or apprehension from them, Master. While I may not be an empath in every sense of the word, I stand by my belief that they weren’t actively fleeing from you. Perhaps tap into your senses - you are a wolf, after all, surely you know what sort of abilities a wolf is blessed with, hmm?”
You blink a few times, letting the words soak in.
You realize that, yes, you do have one ability that a normal person, and many animals, wouldn’t possess: your heightened sense of smell. You used it earlier, yes, but now you can focus on it in full and tap into the benefit without distraction.
You close your eyes and breathe in very, very slowly.
The air is rife with different scents, naturally. You can smell the grass, the dirt beneath your paws, the wood and the leaves and even some floral flavors wafting around. The wind blows, too, and it brings with it even more smells that seem to strike you as part of nature; you can smell what you are somehow able to know to be birds in the distance, and you can smell yourself, your own scent reminding you not of a ‘wet dog,’ thankfully, but of something that just says ‘dog’ to you.
You can also smell the strange, sweetened scent of what you now know to be magic - it grabs at your nostrils and tugs at them to your right, and with them, you can smell something else mixing in, a scent that feels like it matches the woods, just with a faint, noticeable musk. That must be the fox’s scent, melded in with the magic!
‘I wonder if this is what animals smell like to one another,’ you muse, to yourself rather than asking Akam. ‘Well, minus the magic sweetness, I guess.’
It’s definitely something you’ve never thought of until this moment - but then again, you find that you’ve been having a lot of random, new thoughts and questions pop into your head since you stumbled upon an actual genie.
Still, you feel like the scents you’ve latched onto are the fox and the magic fused together. That makes the most sense to you, and, you open your eyes again. Without thinking, you start to follow that scent - you move at a quicker pace than a mere jog, but, still slow enough so that you can keep breathing in the scent. It takes you through the small clearing and back into the wooded area, weaving more toward the right, deeper into the trees, although you’ve no clue how long that’ll go on for.
You don’t remember the park being SUPER massive, but, then again, you’re looking at it from a new mind now, with new eyes and a new nose to boot - maybe it’ll be bigger. For the moment, you shelf this, and focus on that smell.
It’s strong, and it is essentially guiding you onward.
“Very good, Master,” Akam says as he flies beside you. His tone is one of earnest appreciation and kindness, and you can tell he’s smiling at you. “You picked up on the scent rather quickly. You’re definitely skilled with catching up on things in the new bodies you transform into - well done indeed.”
‘Thank you,’ you reply.
Your mind starts to race, and as your heartbeat thunders in your ears, and the scents burn at your nose, you can’t help but start thinking a lot about this fox, about this person you’ve stumbled onto and their genie.
You wonder what this person will be like - are they a male or a female? What is their genie like? Was the genie like Akam, or different beyond what Akam has said of them? Was the person like you or your polar opposite in personality? Younger or older than you? How did they stumble across a djinn, and, what sort of wish did they end up making that granted them the ability to transform the way you did? How does their wish differ from yours?
There are many different questions teeming about inside your head, and it’s more than a bit difficult to keep them from overtaking your senses.
Still, you manage to concentrate, and you keep moving through the woods - the seconds tick by and by, and soon, the scent grows increasingly stronger, filling your nose until it seems to seep into your bones, into your being.
‘I think I’m closing in,’ you muse to yourself.
You weave around a row of trees, and, after another minute, you break away from the trees at long last into an actual expanse of open land. It’s a field, a field you recognize as being part of the park, because you’ve been here before - you know this area, and the familiarity of it fills you with a sense of calmness that you didn’t have prior.
The field is pretty vast, but to the right more, it eventually leads back toward the more ‘parkish’ area, and with that, the downtown portion you were soaring around when you were still a hawk. And you know there’s a river a few yards off to the left, while anything else is just field with some dips and small hills, before it leads into another part of the big city, the northern portion.
This is important, yes, but, you soon shrug it off when you notice that the fox isn’t far from you. They’re literally a few feet away, looming on a hill, looking right down at you.
Now the choice becomes… how do you want to approach this?
You can go to them, or, you can wait for them to come to you, naturally. Or, you could attempt to communicate with them from where you are, although you don’t quite know how to manage that without asking Akam. Regardless, you’ve got options, and as silence falls besides the blowing wind, you now start to mull over what you wish to do next…
Written by Hollowpages on 20 July 2020
The silence lingers through the area for a good few minutes, and you eventually decide that, since the fox hasn’t run away from you yet, maybe approaching them first is the smartest choice to make.
You casually - as casually as can be done in the body of a wolf - start to move toward the fox, and, eventually, you make it up to where they’re currently chilling at. They watch you the whole time, and when you stop, you notice at last that there is another entity there, one currently on the grass next to them.
A djinn - a female djinn, at that.
She’s… quite attractive, you note. She looks much like a human woman in terms of shape and size, minus the fact she’s currently very tiny like Akam - by choice, you know that much. What sets her apart is that she has teal-colored skin and wears an outfit much like a belly dancer, with long, flowing black hair currently tied into a ponytail. And her eyes are very, very bright, a striking purple shade, enough that they’re noticeable even when she is small.
“Aha!” she exclaims. She grows in size to that of a small child in the blink of an eye, and her arms cross. “I thought I caught the smell of another gifted by magic. And look who happens to be with them. Akam!” She grins wide. “I haven’t seen you for a century, old friend. I see you’ve found a new Master.”
Akam chortles. “Indeed I have, Shira.” He, too, has morphed into the size of a small child as he nods toward you. “My Master here has proven to be far more favorable than some I’ve had in the past.” He smiles at her. “It’s lovely to run into an old friend, Shira. You’re looking as exquisite as ever, of course.”
“As are you, Akam, as are you,” Shira says.
“Shira and I have known one another for ages,” Akam says to you. “We met, I’d say, about two thousand years ago, was it? Or around two thousand years.”
Shira scoffs. “Two thousand, yes, during a bygone era. And it’s been a solid two hundred years since we last ran into one another. I’ve stumbled onto a few of our other fond acquaintances… and a handful of unwanted djinn, regrettably.” She rolls her eyes at this, and flicks her gaze to you. “Word to the wise, my friend, if Akam expresses distaste toward a djinn, heed his words.”
You blink a few times and look at Akam. ‘…how many bad genies do you know? And… how bad are we talking about?’
“Master, the stories I could tell you…” Akam remarks, and he shakes his head. “I’d be happy to tell you about them later on, though. You’ve proven yourself to be a kind, considerate Master, and, perhaps even a friend.” He regards you with a thoughtful look. “Regardless, I don’t want to prattle on and take away from what your initial goal was, yes?”
You nod to yourself.
“My, my, Akam,” Shira says. “You seem to be keen on this one.”
Then, the focus shifts to you, and you look from Akam to Shira, the new genie, and then to the fox. The fox’s eyes are very wise in appearance as they stare back at you, yet the fox doesn’t ‘speak.’ You wonder why that is - is talking to another like talking to an actual animal, you wonder?
Shira is in front of you, eyeing you curiously.
“You stumbled upon Akam’s lamp, my dear,” she says. Her lips twitch, and there’s a glimmer in her eyes. “It seems you did indeed go through with at least one of your wishes, but, judging by the fact Akam is with you, I can tell you must’ve requested it. That isn’t something the usual Master does.”
You look at Akam. ‘Can I think-talk to her, the same way I do to you?’
Akam nods. “Focus on her, and think, yes. It is much the same way with me.”
“Ah, still learning, I see,” Shira says, and she chuckles. “Yes, my dear, merely concentrate and think your words - I shall hear them, I guarantee.”
You turn and concentrate on Shira. ‘Hello.’
She smiles. “Hello to you, my dear.”
‘Huh,’ you think. ‘I… guess it’s easier to communicate than I thought. It’s just… different, is all.’
“Being in your own head to such a degree can be quite strange,” Shira says, nodding with genuine understanding flashing across her face. “Regardless.” She beams. “I am Shira, as you’ve no doubt been told. I, too, a djinn, much like Akam here. He is one of a few fellow djinn I actually tolerate - so many of the others are a bore, or arrogant, or some other thing that irritates me. Humans can be similar, mind you, but humans are so much more fascinating to me.”
You look from her to the fox, who continues to eye you in silence.
Shira pauses and snickers. “My Master here is one that has definitely fascinated me… a great deal, in fact. But, tell me, my dear, about yourself. How did you come upon Akam?” Her eyebrow raises. “And what wish did you ask for to be able to transform into this lovely creature before me?”
You blink, then you proceed to run down everything that’s happened - starting from your discovery of the lamp. You don’t hold back anything, for you see no reason to, and Akam doesn’t interject or seem upset at all by your honesty.
When you finish explaining, Shira looks at you thoughtfully, like she’s contemplating something.
“Intriguing,” Shira says. “But, I like it! It’s not unheard of for such a generous Master to exist, mind you, yet it’s always welcome to meet one regardless. And to be the Master of Akam, a friend - I like that a lot, too.”
She nods to herself before moving to stand beside the fox. The fox’s eyes break from watching you, and for a moment, Shira and the fox look at one another, as if they are communicating telepathically, or something. You swear you see Shira’s lips move now and then, yet no words can be heard from her.
When this ends, and the fox and Shira look back toward you, Shira grins.
“My Master wishes to communicate with you,” Shira says. “She was a little leery at first, but, she was also very curious to simply watch how we interacted. And, if I may be honest…” Shira’s grin lowers slightly, and she folds her arms. “I am… a bit protective of her. I wanted to ensure you were worthy enough for her time. I feel you are, though, and so you may speak as you wish.”
‘Oh,’ you say. ‘So, this was… a test of sorts, then? To see what sort of person I was?’
Shira’s eyes sparkle. “Indeed. My Master and I have known one another for longer than you’ve had Akam, and over that time, we’ve bonded. I admit it may be odd for a djinn to care deeply for their Master, but…”
She gently puts her hand on the fox’s head, and the fox closes its - or, her, in this case, which you realize means the fox is technically a vixen - eyes.
“I am fond of her,” Shira says. “Fond and perhaps a bit too guarding of. Still. I deem you worthy of her time,” she winks at this, “and you may now proceed.”
“Speaking to her is the same as with us,” Akam says, before you can ask.
With that said, you look to the vixen, to this person that has found a genie much like yourself - your head is spinning a bit with all the different questions you thought of asking, and you admit you feel incredibly excited to be talking to someone like you in this fantastical predicament. You have to take a moment to halt all the influx of thoughts so you can actually narrow it down.
Now the question becomes… what do you say first? What do you ask first?
Written by Hollowpages on 21 July 2020
You aren’t entirely certain how to approach this subject, given the fact it’s not something you’ve ever done before. It takes you a moment to mull over how to properly speak to someone like this - it’s not the same as talking to a human on the street, after all.
But you settle on trying to treat it that way, for the sake of simplicity.
‘Hi there,’ you say, as you focus on the vixen. ‘I, uh… yeah, this is a lot for me, still, but, I couldn’t help but want to talk to you.’
The vixen regards you with a strange look as she turns her head to the side. ‘So I noticed.’
Her voice is definitely that of a woman, of someone that is definitely an adult - maybe somewhere in the late twenties or early thirties? You can’t be sure, but, it does help paint somewhat of a picture for you about her, either way.
‘I’ll be honest, I didn’t even notice you at first,’ the vixen says. Her tone holds curiosity and some mirth in it as she appraises you. ‘It wasn’t until almost when I broke from the trees that I smelled you. I was lost in the moment, but then, I caught your scent, and Shira here,’ the vixen flicks her tail toward the genie, ‘decided to inform me you were following me for several minutes.’
Shira snickers. “Of course I knew about it, my sweet. I could tell our friend here was filled with curiosity, but, I didn’t want want to interrupt your moment. You do so love the freedom of being able to run at full speed while tapping into the animal instincts you’ve been blessed with. Why spoil the fun?”
The vixen rolls her eyes.
‘I was worried you were running away FROM me,’ you admit. ‘I didn’t want to come across that way - I was honestly just… excited to meet someone that also happened to find a genie and had their wishes granted.’
‘I gathered that,’ the vixen replies. She seems to smile at you. ‘My name is Ali, by the way. What’s yours?’
You introduce yourself in response.
‘A pleasure,’ Ali says. ‘So you’ve only had your partner here for a little under a day, huh?’
You nod. ‘It hasn’t been long, yeah. But it’s been one heck of a day so far.’
Ali laughs at this. ‘Oh, yeah, I bet. I remember my first day meeting Shira.’ She turns to eye Shira. ‘It was a wild ride from start to finish, but damn was it a good one. My life hasn’t been the same since we met - and I’m honestly thankful to the core for that fact. Shira’s been a blessing.’
“Oh, stop it,” Shira says, waving a hand off. “You’re trying to flatter me, Master.”
“Liar,” Shira says, and she snickers.
‘How long have you known Shira?’ you ask Ali.
‘Three years,’ Ali replies. ‘I met Shira by freak accident, I think, when I was going for a walk in the park at nighttime. Probably the dumbest time to go walking alone for a woman, but, I was… well, I wasn’t sober, let’s put it that way.’ Her ears twitch. ‘Fortunately, fate was on my side, and I managed to find my way down a path that took me to where Shira’s lamp was resting…’
You nod, fascinated to be hearing all this.
You look at Shira next. ‘Are you a transformation djinn as well?’
Shira arcs an eyebrow. “Transformation? Ah…” Her lips curl into an impish grin. “To be honest, I see myself as more of an… open-ended djinn, or I try to be depending on the Master I happen upon. But to answer your question, my dear, when I met my Master here, I was, yes.”
‘You… wait, what?’ you ask.
“To only grant ‘transformative’ wishes doesn’t only refer to changing from the form of a human to the form of an animal,” Akam answers. He shrugs as you look at him. “Some djinn will take that term and utilize it in the broadest of senses, depending on their preferences and on how their Master words the wishes they ask for. But, me, I am a djinn that loves nature and the wilderness, and I am deeply fond of all animals and insects of the world. That is why my focus is specific to just that realm, Master.”
‘Oh… I guess that makes sense,’ you reply.
Ali giggles. ‘Don’t feel too bad if it doesn’t. It took me a good two years to fully grasp the extent of Shira’s preferences. The stinker.’
Shira beamed. “Magical stinker, at least, my Master.”
Ali rolls her eyes once more.
“But, to answer your question,” Shira says as she regards you. “I am fond of nearly any form of transformation - whether it be taken in the physical sense or not. What it comes down to for me is my taste. If a Master strikes me as someone that is rude, petty, or lacking common sense, I’ll usually mess with them by finding loopholes in their wishes.” She beams wide. “Nothing TOO harmful, mind you. I tend to try to teach those sorts a lesson is all.”
‘I see now,’ you reply.
One thing is for sure: you are glad you had the common sense to be decent when you stumbled onto Akam. Who is to say what would’ve happened to you had you been rude or dismissive of the genie? You don’t want to consider that outcome, so, you let that thought slip off you, since you made the right decision and now you are far more appreciative of this fact.
‘So you’ve only gotten two of your wishes granted, huh?’ Ali asks.
‘Yeah,’ you reply. ‘The first was to be able to turn into any animal, painlessly, and to be in control over myself when I did. I didn’t want to be like the old werewolf stories where the person lost control, you know?’
Ali nods and grins again. ‘Smart move.’
‘And my second was to allow Akam to join me,’ you say. ‘I phrased it so that he was able to be my guide for as long as he wanted to be, unless I really needed his help for something. Otherwise, I gave him the freedom to choose.’
“Ohoho!” Shira says. “Now THAT is quite telling of the sort of person you are, my friend. Not many care enough about us djinn to extend that offer.”
‘Interesting…’ Ali remarks. She eyes you with a strange glimmer in her eyes for a moment before nodding. ‘You’re definitely deserving of a djinn, I think. Anyone can wish for things that’ll make their lives better without putting any consideration toward a genie - but, it’s nice to see someone that’s above that kind of thinking.’
You nod, then curiosity grabs at you. ‘What wishes did you make?’
Ali remains silent for a moment as she seems to mull this over. You’re not sure why, but you don’t get an immediate sense she’s going to lie to you about it, at least not right now. Even then, though, you’re rather intrigued about her sudden relapse into silence.
‘I could tell you,’ Ali replies. ‘But, why don’t we make this fun?’
You blink. ‘Fun?’
‘A little game,’ Ali says. ‘If you can beat me in a challenge, then I’ll tell you what you want to know. If you lose, then you can keep trying, unless you want to give up. I don’t want to stand around like this all day, is all, and don’t you want to test the limits of your new wolf body?’
She grins at you. You’re a little startled by the proposition, but…
‘What do you say?’ Ali asks. ‘Do you accept?’
Written by Hollowpages on 22 July 2020
You certainly didn’t expect to be given a challenge like this out of the blue, not when you’d only really planned on just asking some questions. And yet, you can’t say you’re opposed to it - the idea seems fun, after all, and besides, what have you got to lose?
You focus on seeing the time and find that of the two hour time limit, almost the first hour has passed - you’re right around the fifty-five minute mark, so you’ve got plenty of time to kill. That spurs you on into your choice.
‘Sure,’ you reply. ‘I accept your challenge. What do you have in mind?’
Ali’s tail swishes around as she grins at you again. ‘Awesome. Well… do you know this area at all?’
‘Yeah!’ you say, and you smile, too. ‘I’ve been here a lot, so I’ve got a good sense of the layout.’
‘Excellent,’ Ali replies. She nods her head to the right, your left. ‘Then you know where the river begins not far from here, and how it leads into a lake? Here’s my challenge: it’s simple… we have a race. If you can beat me to that lake before I make it, then you’ve won, and I’ll gladly answer whatever other questions you might have for me. No strings attached, I promise.’
You pause to ponder this. ‘Why do I feel like you’re being crafty on me to live up to the fact you’re in a fox’s body right now?’
She snickers. ‘Clever joke. But, hey, you’ve got a good point.’ She eyes you then, and her eyes are filled only with sincerity. ‘I promise it’s the truth.’
“She doesn’t lie,” Shira says. You almost forgot the genies were there.
‘Alright, then,’ you say. ‘A race it is.’
‘Shira, could you maybe serve as our starting point, please?’ Ali asks her djinn.
“Ha! Gladly, my dear, gladly,” Shira replies. She beams and immediately floats over to stand on a spot a few feet away from all of you. She stretches her hands to her sides, and, in a flash of purple light, there are now two small but thick lines engraved into the ground. “There we are. Your starting lines.”
You and Ali both walk over to the lines and stand directly behind them.
‘Hope you don’t mind losing,’ Ali says, and there’s a playful flicker in her eyes.
You scoff. ‘I was about to say the same thing to you.’
‘Pffft, sure, sure you were,’ Ali says.
There’s a pause. You look forward, and you think about the quickest path to get from where you are to the lake that the river leads into - if you were human and walking, it would be about twenty minutes from this area, you feel. But with the body of a wolf on four legs, you feel like you’d be able to cut that time down considerably - especially since your legs are bigger, and you can likely cover more ground than a fox can in that amount of time.
‘Alright, then… on the count of three…’ Ali says.
You nod and let in a slow, deep breath through your nose, then you exhale.
You dig your paws into the ground beneath you to test the ground’s strength, since you don’t want to overshoot or trip yourself up. Though you feel the grass get crushed as your claws spear into the soft dirt, it isn’t enough to where you’ll have trouble taking off in a run, which you’re content with.
You tense your body in preparation for this little race you and Ali have agreed upon - you can feel the excitement bubbling up in your chest and spreading to the rest of your lupine body. It’s a surge of energy, and you feel that energy sparking at your paws. Even though you aren’t a human right now, you do assume the closest thing to a runner’s position that you can in this form, if only for the sheer spectacle of it - and because it’s kind of a habit, too.
With that, you take off, and you push yourself forward with all your might.
Moving on all fours isn’t foreign to you anymore - and moving at a high speed, the fastest you can move, is no issue, either. Your legs kick up dirt as you charge down the grassy plain, running not over the hills in the immediate area directly up top - which you know would force you to move slower given the fact running uphill is harder than downhill - but around the sides since it’ll allow you to cover more ground faster. You know where to go.
Of course, Ali is no slouch, and you immediately notice when you start to run that the vixen is definitely faster than you thanks to her smaller size.
She rockets past you by going directly up the hill unlike you; except when you’re dashing around the side of the hill, she flat out leaps over the top and seems to literally fly through the air for a good few seconds before landing lithely on her feet and picking right up at the same speed.
‘What the?!’ you think aloud.
Ali cackles. ‘I’ve been doing this for a lot longer than you!’
She sprints on ahead like a bullet, but you snap out of your brief daze and charge on after her, and though she continues to run up hills, you keep your speed and keep your practice of wrapping around the sides instead.
The hills won’t last for too long; within minutes, the mounds cease, and it turns into a pure flat ground that only slightly slants downwards. You use that to your advantage and pick up your speed, pressing down into the ground with your larger paws and pushing your legs to their utter limits.
Despite the initial lead, and the smaller frame with a higher speed, your wolf body persists, and you’re able to pick up the distance between you and Ali.
It takes a moment once the hills have ended, but, you eventually manage to bridge the gap enough to where you’re nearly directly behind her. Yet despite the fact she’s beating you, that doesn’t register much in your head - you’re feeling the energy pulsating through your bones, through your muscles, and your heart is thundering from the motion - but also from the sheer excitement.
You’d be smiling if you were a human.
You aren’t even a huge adrenaline junkie, really, but the sensation of freedom is just overwhelmingly good, and it pushes you to do your best in this race.
Yet as the seconds fly by, and as you and Ali make it to where the river starts, you realize something: within minutes, you’ll come to a spot wherein you’ll be able to actually pick what direction you want to go. Not quite a fork in the road, no, but, there are two ways you can take to get to the lake, your destination.
Right or left.
Going right, you know you’ll have smoother ground to run through, but there are more trees that direction. The grassy field breaks up around that point, and beyond some clumps of grass and weeds, it’ll be dirt, which means dust and rocks and debris. The downside is that while this path is faster to get to the lake, for sure, it’s also going to be harder to navigate when you’re not small.
Going left, on the other hand, will be elevated, and though it will also be dirt, there are less trees. It’s basically a sort of cliff that you’ll be running on, one that will dip back down again, yet there’s a bit of a vertical climb for a four-legged animal to move up that’ll cut your speed down. Yet, even though it’ll be slower, you know it might be better for a wolf.
Which do you pick?
Written by Hollowpages on 23 July 2020
‘Having fun eating my dust?’ Ali asks.
You scoff internally. ‘You talk a lot of trash for someone so small.’
‘I’m only small right now, silly mutt,’ Ali replies.
You have to resist the urge to roll your eyes.
She’s definitely got a sassy edge to her, but you can keep up with it just fine.
Still, you have a choice to make, and as you near the point where you’re able to pick between the right path or the left path to end up at the lake, you rush through your thoughts as you weigh them both down. It’s not exactly an easy feat to ponder over two big choices when you’re racing against a snarky vixen, but somehow, you manage to decide what way you’ll go: you choose left.
‘We’re almost there,’ Ali says. ‘If you can’t pick up the pace, I’ll be there before you, Fido!’
‘Yeah, yeah, keep trash talking!’ you reply. ‘It’ll make my victory sweeter!’
She laughs internally. ‘Is that your best attempt at talking back? Really?’
You don’t respond; you’re thoroughly amused by her, naturally, but you’re also a wolf on a mission, and you don’t want to end up getting distracted right now!
Seconds zip by.
You and Ali make it to that point where the grass starts to splinter into normal ground, but the left path that leads up into a small cliff maintains some of that grass. You go left, while Ali goes right, both of you following the river.
‘Good luck down there!’ you say.
Ali’s laugh is her only response to you. Fine by you; time to push yourself!
Moving left is what you expected it to be: you end up climbing a little bit up with each passing second as the ground begins to elevate itself, and with those passing instances, the grass fades into dirt instead. Yet it’s devoid of rocks or cracks or puddles - nothing mars the path, because it’s used by humans for hiking. The other path? Running, jogging, and cyclists go that route, and dirtbikes, too, from time to time. Not this way.
‘Judging by the time of year, I bet there’s probably tire tracks,’ you muse to yourself as you feel the dirt beneath your paws. The earth is soft and malleable to a degree thanks to your claws digging in and out of the ground. ‘She may have a quicker path, but she’ll have to take the time to bob and weave a lot around all the trees, and if she’s not careful…’
You can imagine mud puddles spread about, and probably the remnants of cyclists from the morning, perhaps even joggers or runners rummaging through the area. Regardless, you’re counting on nature to be on your side with this, because while you’re not super competitive, you don’t want to lose this race - you want to win so you can appease your curiosity.
You’re focused purely on the end result at the moment, on getting to that lake, which is about five minutes away from you going by your best guess.
‘C’mon, wolf body, don’t fail me now,’ you think.
The ground is only rising at fractions with every few steps you take. You use this to your advantage and slow your speed a little since you have to push upwards a bit, but your legs are big and strong, and your paws kick up only little spurts of dust and dirt. It feels cool to be kicking up the dust with four legs like this, and you’re glad it isn’t wet since that would slow you even more.
‘Once this cliff starts to dip down, I’ll have to pick up my speed,’ you think.
The cliff winds down to a few different spots where you can drop off to get back to where the river is directly; there isn’t much of a difference besides where these are located, beyond the fact that you recall there’s a bit more of a drop for the nearest ones for someone on four legs, rather than on two.
‘I can handle it,’ you think.
And as you barrel over the path, time slips past you, and you can tell you’re approaching the point where the cliff dips back down to the river. You don’t know where Ali is, or how far she’s gotten, but you try not to let that distract you - your main goal is to get to the lake, and with your heart and body brimming with energy, that’s not going to take much longer by this point.
At last, the dips start to appear, but you bypass the first few, and instead, you aim for one of the later ones - it’s a few feet away from where your position is, and when you reach it, you can’t help but leap forward when that dip arrives.
Your body is briefly in the air - you pushed yourself off like you were jumping with two legs, and for a brief instant, you’re a little freaked out by the fact you leapt so high up for a wolf. But then you feel the ground beneath your paws, which throb for only a handful of seconds from the impact they took.
You manage to shake this off, and you keep your pace. Except now, the river is beside you, and you can spot the lake in the distance. You’re close.
You don’t see Ali, not at the lake, nor behind you. But you push yourself to the fullest again, and you speed up, working those four legs until your muscles start to groan in protest from the effort being exerted from them.
Closer… closer… closer…
Only then, when you’re mere feet away, do you hear movement, and out of your peripheral, you spot Ali zooming out from a row of trees. She’s dangerously close to overtaking you, but you grin at this, and you keep going with the same momentum.
Your paws dig into the ground, your heart feels like it’s about to burst from your chest to try and get to that lake before your body does.
And then, finally, you’re there.
‘Aw, dammit!’ Ali shouts.
You leap into that lake bed and feel the water embrace your furry body, and literally a heartbeat or two after you’ve made it, Ali’s smaller vixen form does the same.
You let yourself relax as your heart begins to settle itself, and you float there in the lake, turning your attention to Ali’s form. She paddles away from you, out of the lake, and you gradually make your way to do the same. Your legs are beat, and they protest every step you take, but once you’re out of the lake, you let your body drop onto the ground. You’ve achieved victory, and it feels… nice.
Ali shakes herself off, and plops down across from you. ‘Well. This stinks,’ Ali says, but her tone retains the mirth she held earlier. ‘Congrats on winning.’
You start to pant without even thinking about it to try and cool off - or were you panting sooner? You can’t recall, mostly because you weren’t even thinking about it until now that you weren’t running. The cold water from the lake helps this, and after a stretch of quiet, you feel much more at ease.
‘Thanks,’ you say. ‘That was pretty fun, though.’
‘Yeah,’ Ali says. She chuckles internally. ‘You won, fair and square, much as I hate to admit it.’ She shakes her head, and you notice she’s panting, too. ‘Alrighty, victor. I’ll stand by my promise - I’ll answer your questions now.’
You smile inwardly, pleased. ‘Alright then.’
Where to start?
Written by Hollowpages on 24 July 2020
Before you end up asking anything, however, you notice something - neither of the genies were with you or Ali when you were racing. You look around without getting up, and wonder where they might’ve gone off to. You recall that Akam could leave if he desired it, so, you consider that maybe he chose to do so when you agreed to race Ali. Yet what of Shira, then? Where did she…?
You get your answer after a few seconds when both genies appear from above you, floating down until they’ve landed - Akam close to you, Shira directly beside Ali, respectively.
“That was quite the race, Master,” Akam says. He’s grinning wide. “We watched the whole affair from a good vantage point in the sky. It was quite quick-thinking of you to choose the route you did - that gave you the advantage you needed to secure your victory.”
You let out a breath. ‘Thank you. I kind of hoped it would help.’
Ali snorts. ‘Guess I underestimated you. Or, I overestimated myself.’
Shira pats her on the head and seems to stroke Ali’s fur. “You did plenty well, my sweet. It was all in good fun, regardless, and so long as you enjoyed yourself and are safe, then I am a happy djinn no matter the outcome.”
“Unless it was us doing the racing,” Akam remarks wryly.
Shira snorts. “Then, Akam, you would’ve eaten my proverbial and literal dust.”
You snicker at this, and so does Ali. What a turn of events.
‘Now, you were going to ask…?’ Ali says.
‘Right, right,’ you say. ‘What were the wishes you had granted?’
Shira grins and sits beside Ali on the ground, but does not answer for Ali.
‘My first wish was to be able to transform into whatever I desired,’ Ali replies after a moment. She grins, and her eyes flick to Shira with glee for a brief instance. ‘Like you, I was smart enough to make sure that it wouldn’t hurt, and that I’d be able to control myself to the fullest. But, I phrased it in a way that… gave me a bit more to it than that.’
You frown inside. ‘What do you mean?’
“My Master is very methodical,” Shira says, a smirk tugging at the corner of her lips. “She worded her wish in a way that I honestly had a difficult time looking for any loopholes I could exploit for my amusement, to the degree where I was actually impressed with how hard she made it for me to find one.”
That catches you off guard.
Akam chuckles beside you. “Remember, Master: we djinn are not morally bound by the same rules you humans are. We often do find loopholes, as I did with your wishes, but we do it for our own entertainment most times, rather than out of pettiness or malice. It’s a fun game of ours that we enjoy playing.”
“And this one,” Shira nudges Ali, “was perhaps the first Master I’ve ever had that had me stumped.”
‘Basically,’ Ali says, and she speaks with a hint of smugness and pride rather evident in her eyes as well as her voice, ‘I got my first wish to be able to transform into any animal I wanted, or even change my appearance in other ways, without a time limit. Not to brag, but, I kind of got away with it and there wasn’t any downside Shira could think of.’
Your jaw opens as you gawk at her. ‘No way.’
Even Akam seems genuinely amazed. “Really, Shira? You couldn’t think of anything to limit your Master’s abilities? Nothing at all, not even some sort of time limit or rules for her to follow? I find that incredibly hard to believe…”
“Akam, I am not one for deceit or exaggeration,” Shira replies, and she folds her arms with a scowl. “I tried to think of every way I could, but Ali’s phrasing was incredible - it was like she took into account every single factor any djinn would actively use to tweak the wish, to the degree where the only limitation I was able to set didn’t even turn into a limitation in the end.”
Ali beams. ‘Guess I’m a stinker, too.’
“You’re VERY correct,” Shira says, yet she seems proud of the fact.
‘So what’s the one limitation?’ you ask.
‘Well, I’d say there’s maybe three limits, but I never really saw them as limitations: the first is I can only transform into living things,’ Ali says. ‘The second was I can only turn into female creatures, since I’m biologically a woman, and I identify as a woman. That made sense to me, though. Oh, and, I can only turn into five things a day - I can shift around between those five forms at will, without a timer, but only those five, so I have to pick carefully.’
Shira shrugs, and there is a moment of silence that falls after this.
You’re perplexed, naturally, but you’re more amazed than anything. And here you were trying to word your wish in a way that would make it difficult for Akam to change it to his own desires - you still ended up with limitations upon you, although you had to admit these limitations were feasible and not cruel.
Either way, you were impressed that Ali was able to go even further than that.
Akam folds his arms and eyes Ali. “Now I MUST hear what the phrasing was… you’ve got me curious.”
“I’ll tell you later, Akam,” Shira replies with a wave of her hand.
You can’t help being curious about this as well, but, you shelf this for the moment, and instead return your focus to Ali.
You lean in, quizzical. ‘So you can turn into any animal you want… up to five different animals a day, with no time limit, and the only rules you have to follow are they have to be the female animal, and… you only have the five to choose from?’
‘Yes,’ Ali replies. ‘Oh, and, in case you’re wondering, my natural human form doesn’t count toward those five - I managed to wriggle my wording enough that my human form is considered the starting point.’ She winked. ‘Technically, I guess that means I’ve got six forms.’
‘Jeez,’ you say.
Now you regret not taking even more time to figure out your own first wish’s wording, although you admit that you don’t regret it too much. At least, not now - there’s always the future where things may change, you note.
‘Your second wish,’ Ali says. ‘You wishes for your genie to be able to stay with you whenever you needed him, as long as you actually needed him, yeah?’
‘Yes,’ you reply.
“I have the freedom to choose,” Akam says, but he ultimately smiles. “But if I’m honest, my Master has proven to be a very kind, favorable human. I could’ve easily returned to my lamp at any given time throughout much of this, yet I’ve felt no real desire to. Frankly, I may wait until nighttime to do so - until then, I’ve had far too much fun watching and experiencing all these things with my Master to bother with returning.”
‘That’s pretty rad,’ Ali says, nodding.
‘What about you, Ali?’ you ask. ‘Did you get a second wish granted?’
Your eyes flick to Shira, and you wonder if she wished for something like yours. Yet before Ali has a chance to respond, you hear something - and feel something - in your stomach. That is, your stomach grumbles.
You only now start to notice that… you’re kind of hungry.
Ali giggles at this. ‘Someone’s hungry, I see.’
You’d blush if you could, but, thankfully you can’t. ‘I, uh, suppose so.’
‘Then, here’s an idea,’ Ali says. ‘We can stay here and talk more, or, if you want, we can go hunting.’ Her eyes flash. ‘I’ve only been in a vixen’s body today, to be honest, so I can turn myself into a wolf, and we can go out to find something to eat. Whaddya say?’
You blink a few times. Good question…
Written by Hollowpages on 25 July 2020
You give it some thought, before you make your decision. ‘I… I think I’d like to try hunting. I’ve never done it in the past.’ You pause, then, after considering something, you add, ‘although to be honest, I’m a little… wary about it.’
Ali chortles internally. ‘I’m guessing because you’ve never killed an animal before, yeah?’
‘It’s a fair thing to take into consideration,’ Ali remarked. Her tail swishes about a few times. ‘I’m not gonna say that the idea of hunting and eating a living creature is entirely inhuman, since plenty of people have done it throughout history for survival. But, I get it.’ Her eyes hold yours with sincerity. ‘It’s not the easiest thing in the world. I’ve done it a handful of times, though, ever since I met Shira.’
You’re a little taken aback at this, although you suppose it would make sense in a way - you hadn’t considered that someone with the ability to transform into animals would use that power for something like hunting, if only because, well, if you could turn into an animal and back to human, why bother?
Ali eyes you as if she knows what you’re thinking. ‘There’s… I guess you could call it a sort of thrill to the hunt, depending on the creature whose form you assume. The predator animals, like the wolf, or the fox, they have this sort of…’ She pauses and thinks. ‘How did you describe it, Shira?’
“A predator’s mentality,” Shira replies. She nods and grins. “Assuming the body of a creature has its perks, particularly when you maintain your humanity - something that many djinn will give you even if you don’t ask, although, as with all things tied to our kin, it’s not a certainty. Either way, one of those perks is that you can tap into the mental state of that creature, if that makes sense.”
“It’s not the same since you retain your human lens,” Akam adds, and he regards you when he says this. “It’s like trying to communicate with the dog in the park, Master. Your mind is human - thus, you think and see and experience and understand things in a human way, including the words I’m saying to you right now. You can feel a taste of what a wolf thinks if you allow yourself to, yet it’ll always be framed by emotions and concepts you think as a human.”
“But, it helps with things like hunting,” Shira says. “If that helps, anyways.”
You suppose it does, although you aren’t entirely sold on the premise - you’ve killed bugs before, sure, but that is a much different thing, at least as far as you tend to think of it. The idea of hunting and killing a creature with your bare… well, not hands since you’re a wolf, but, your teeth? That’s… much different.
‘We’ll be smart about it,’ Ali says. She holds your gaze with a steady look, and you get the sense she’s being earnest with you about it. Not that she’d have a reason not to be, mind. ‘And I know a good route that’ll take us to where we’d find game. I can tell you’re overthinking it, and I can tell you’re thinking about it the way you would if you weren’t a wolf.’
‘It’s a little hard not to,’ you say.
She nods. ‘That’s true. Definitely not disagreeing. But, trust me. When you tap into that bestial side… it gets easier, because you can not only work through it, but, you’ll be able to better accept and understand. So, shall we get going?’
You sigh, then nod. ‘Yeah.’
Your stomach gurgles as if adding onto the conversation, to your mild embarrassment. Ali simply giggles at you, before she stands on her legs.
‘One moment, please,’ Ali says.
You blink a few times, but say nothing. Then it dawns on you, right when you watch as Ali’s body starts to transform - her body stretches out and grows in size and bulk, her fur darkening to a deep-grayish color, all over the course of seconds. Her features thicken, and her snout extends, and so does her tail, and within about a minute, she’s no longer a vixen, but a wolf just like you.
Her transformation was smooth and brisk, and to your eyes, she’d changed forms so fluidly, it was almost like watching something out of a cartoon or a movie, but with really, really good CGI. You’re astounded, but then, the appearance of a fox isn’t too different from a wolf beyond the size, admittedly.
‘Ahhh,’ Ali says. She licks her snout, and eyes you again, with yellow eyes now. ‘You forget the benefits of being in a bigger body when you’ve spent hours on end in the form of a fox. This is much, much nicer.’ She sniffs the air, then leans toward you and sniffs. ‘Yup. Feels good to be a wolf.’
‘What made you choose to be a fox in the first place?’ you ask, earnestly curious.
She blinks a few times, then smiles at you with a big, wolfish grin. ‘Oh, that’s easy. I love foxes. They’re one of my favorite animals, have been since I was a little girl. To me, they’re awesome because they’re fast, smart, gorgeous, and tricky little stinkers by nature. Plus, I’ve always seen myself as being pretty keen and crafty, so, there’s that, too.’
You smile back at her. ‘Makes sense, I suppose.’
‘Let’s talk more after we get some grub,’ Ali remarks. She licks her chops now, and nods her head to the side. ‘We can decide to find some food together, if you prefer. I’m not against letting you take the lead, though, or if you’d prefer I be the alpha in the equation, that’s fine with me, too.’
‘Didn’t you say you know a good spot?’ you ask.
She snickers. ‘I do. I know several. But, you said you knew the area, right? I don’t want to invade on your own pride if you felt like you’d have a better chance at getting us to where there’s wild animals roaming about.’ She grins again. ‘Or, we can do it together. I don’t have a preference right now, I just wanna get something in my belly. What do you think?’
You blink again, and then start to consider this.
Written by Hollowpages on 26 July 2020
‘You know what,’ you say after pondering this. ‘I think… you take the lead on this. I’m not the sort of person that gets a bruised ego if I’m not in control. And you’ve got way more experience than I do in this, since you’ve been doing this longer than me.’
Ali’s eyes glimmer as she nods. ‘Smart, smart. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve got a bit of an ego for myself, so hearing that definitely makes me feel good inside.’
You snort. ‘Oh, well, I can always take it back.’
‘Nope!’ she cackles internally. ‘No take backs. Now come on, let’s hunt.’
She turns and starts to move, and you pick up to move after her - it isn’t hard for you and Ali to run at the same pace since you’ve got the same sized bodies this time around, although even as you start to run through the forest, darting among the trees and thick shrubs together, you notice she’s still faster.
Akam and Shira are flying overhead, chattering away while they do. You feel pleased that the genies are remaining by your sides - although, you get a strange sense that Shira would stay by Ali one way or the other.
You shrug it off, however, and focus on following alongside Ali.
‘How many forms have you taken so far?’ Ali asks.
‘Only two,’ you admit. ‘I was a falcon first, and then now a wolf.’
Ali chortles. ‘Only two, huh? Damn. You’ve really yet to live yet until you’ve experienced the bodies and abilities of… I mean, there’s a lot of different creatures to pick from, right?’
‘Yeah…’ you concede. ‘But, I’ve got rules set by Akam that I have to be mindful of, too. I can only change forms every two hours, so, unlike you, I’ve got a time limit holding me back.’
‘Oof,’ Ali says. ‘That stinks.’
You don’t mind it so much, you feel. Your life isn’t hectic to the point where it would be an issue for you, although you do have to admit to yourself that being able to transform on the fly without a time limit would be much, much easier.
You wonder if Akam would ever be open to altering the wish, if that’s even something he could do - then again, he’s been very kind to you as has, like giving you these random little abilities without you having to make your third wish. Actually, as you run alongside Ali through the trees, deeper into the thick rows of green and brown, you can’t help but be a little curious…
‘You never said if you’d gotten your second wish granted,’ you say.
Ali giggles. ‘I did, yes. And my third, too.’
You can’t help but gawk, to the point where you almost skid to a halt. Somehow, you manage to keep moving, although you do slow for a moment as you absorb the fact this woman has gotten all three of her wishes already.
‘Wait…’ you say. ‘I don’t understand. Akam said that when a genie grants all three of their wishes to their Master, that they usually…’
‘It’s a bit… complicated,’ Ali says.
The two of you move around several thick tree trunks, and Ali’s movement slows to more of a trot. You are appreciative of this, since you’re way too overcome with surprise to keep running right now.
‘It’s true, typically when a genie grants their final wish, they return to their lamp or vase or whatever they happen to call home,’ Ali says. She doesn’t look at you as she speaks, only keeping her focus forward. ‘But there are a few ways to work around this, although these are pretty uncommon from what Shira’s told me.’
‘Did you set her free?’ you ask.
Now you stop, and you can’t help it this time. Ali stops, and she turns to face you at last. You’re overwhelmed by your own curious feelings, is all - you found out from Akam that many genies didn’t like to be set free because it robbed them of their homes and a portion of their abilities. You didn’t get the sense he was lying, and as Ali eyes you, you feel that he was indeed being honest.
‘Sorry,’ Ali says. ‘It’s not some huge secret or anything. It’s just…’
“A bit of a taboo,” Shira finishes as she swoops down to float beside Ali. The gorgeous genie puts a hand on Ali’s head and smiles tenderly at her, before turning to smile at you. “Ali and I are lovers, my friend. That is tied to her final wish, the one that has allowed me to remain free in the open, but, also retain most of powers. I did lose my lamp, admittedly, yet I don’t mourn this fact.”
You’re amazed to hear that - you never thought that would be possible, since such a thing never crossed your mind. Yet before you can really start to sink your teeth into it - metaphorically speaking - your stomach groans again.
You snap out of it, temporarily, and now find yourself torn between wanting to ask more, and shelving it so you can hunt first… and then ask later, maybe.
Written by Hollowpages on 27 July 2020
You end up going with the curiosity, because you can’t help yourself by this point. Your stomach grumbles quietly in protest, but, hey, it can wait. Besides, worst case scenario, you can always turn back into a human to eat if it gets to the point where it’s painful.
‘Sorry for being so nosy,’ you say. ‘But, how did that happen?’
“Oh, much the way you expect,” Shira replies with a chortle. “Over time, we bonded quite deeply is all, pup. It was not an instant falling, by any means - although I knew Ali found me quite attractive when I first awoke from my lamp.”
Ali shifts around a bit, looking somewhat embarrassed.
Shira beams. “I was flattered by this, mind you. I have always enjoyed Masters who were pleased by my aesthetic, and the more pleasant they were with it with compliments or fond gazes, the more I tended to treat them favorably. I only ever got annoyed when one former Master was TOO perverse for my tastes, but, he was a rarity among those that found me to be gloriously beautiful.”
Akam snorts. “Always were the vain one, Shira.”
You blink and turn to see him standing beside you with his arms crossed, although his expression is one of sheer amusement. You admit you don’t know anything about the djinn society, so, you don’t know what Akam thinks or feels about this revelation - granted, he doesn’t appear to be upset, let alone surprised given the fact his features are thoughtful beneath the look of mirth.
“Oh, without question, Akam,” Shira says with a jovial laugh. “I’m a sucker for those that butter me up, but I must be frank, I’ve always preferred women to men in pretty much every way.” She shrugs. “Still. For a djinn to develop feelings for their Master or a human is not unheard of. It’s the developing of - and then acting on - romantic feelings that is considerably rarer.”
‘Why’s that?’ you ask. ‘Is it… forbidden, or…?’
“Forbidden, no,” Shira replies. “Considered strange? Yes.”
You blink and look to Akam for more of a clarification.
Akam chuckles. “Djinn society has several set rules that we must all follow, Master, but there are no real rules within the realm of loves, beyond the fact we are explicitly forbidden from actively tampering with the romantic lives of others for our own gain.” His features grow more stern as he nods. “No djinn may ever use their powers to threaten, kill, or manipulate a mortal - it has been this way for centuries upon centuries, and thus, that relates to not messing with or manipulating mortal romances.”
You soak this in. You are… glad to know that’s a thing, to be sure. The idea of magical supernatural beings being able to do things like transform people into animals going around and messing with peoples’ lives is… unsettling.
“To put it into easier terms,” Shira says, as she floats over to you. “While it’s true that ‘releasing’ a djinn is more of a problem than a boon, there’s a tiny gray area that can be accessed.” She holds two fingers together to pantomime the ‘tiny’ part of her sentence. “The mutual, consensual falling in love between a djinn and his or her Master, or another human being in general, is within that tiny gray area. That is why I am with Ali, both happy and free, yet still empowered by my magics.”
‘But you lost your lamp,’ you say, recalling that. ‘Yet it doesn’t seem to bother you.’
“No,” Shira replies, a warm glow in her eyes. “Ah, pup, it’s because Ali has become my NEW lamp, in essence, anyways.” She winks as you gawk at her. “A lamp, or vase, or whatever object… it is both a home and a syphon for a portion of our power. Yet if we are able to create a suitable replacement…”
It dawns on you what she’s saying. ‘…then you don’t need a lamp anymore, because that new thing… or person in this case,’ you glance at Ali, who nods, ‘is what takes over as the other part of your powers?’
“Precisely,” Shira says, and she returns to Ali’s side. “We can continue chatting about this later, you know. Put some food in your bellies first, won’t you?”
You let your thoughts slide away from you for the time being, and, Ali looks at you expectantly.
‘Alright,’ Ali says. ‘We’re actually pretty close to where I was leading us.’ She nods to the right. ‘There are some deer in that direction - it leads to a mountain.’ She then nods to the left. ‘Or we can go that way, to a lake where there are fish swimming about.’ She grins at you. ‘So it boils down to what you’re in the mood for… are you hungry for fresh venison… or fresh fish?’
Your stomach growls at you to decide.
Written by Hollowpages on 28 July 2020
You aren’t the sort of person that’s ever actively gone hunting before. The concept of hunting doesn’t frighten you or disgust you, by any means, but, you admit that you have a hard time visualizing yourself killing a creature, especially when it’s NOT with bare hands - no, this would be bare teeth.
Still, you mull it over and decide. ‘Why not fish? I don’t mind the taste of fish.’
Ali snickers. ‘You know, I’m not surprised you would pick fish. They’re less troublesome and a lot less messy to hunt for compared to deer, especially since fish are usually on the lower end of the scale of animals to kill.’
‘I don’t mind eating fish, either,’ Ali replies, and she flashes you a grin. ‘Only thing I dislike about fish is the smell. They’re so ungodly stinky, I swear.’ She snorts. ‘But somehow, this one,’ she tilts her nose toward her genie partner, ‘doesn’t seem to agree with me on that.’
Shira chortles. “Fish are far from being the stinkiest things to a djinn, my dear.” She taps her nose with a wicked grin. “Our senses are far more particular, so the sorts of odors that bother animal noses or human noses, don’t usually affect us to the same degree. Even so.” She reaches down to boop Ali on the nose. “Hush with the complaints, you. Go and help our friend get some food.”
Ali snickers, nods, and tilts her head to the left. ‘C’mon. Let’s eat.’
She takes off without another word, and, you do the same. You follow her down the path, and although she’s remarkably fast, you can keep up decently enough with her after some initial trouble - the two of you dart through a series of trees, and around on the soft ground. Your genies are following along in the air, flying directly above you as they were before.
‘The lake isn’t very far,’ Ali remarks to you mid-run. ‘Shouldn’t take too long.’
You say nothing, but you are grateful nonetheless - your stomach gurgles loudly as you pace yourself next to her. Getting some actual sustenance, even if that sustenance is raw fish, will do some good, you feel.
About five minutes later of running on roughly flat ground, the two of you break from the thicket of trees and grass. You come upon the lake Ali mentioned, and find it to be fairly massive in size, far, far bigger than you had expected it to be. One side in the distance of the lake actually morphs into a river that trails onward toward the horizon.
‘Has that always been there?’ you wonder to yourself.
The area doesn’t seem familiar to you, in truth, but, it’s gorgeous to look upon. The trees are scattered and towering toward the sky, there’s a few hills here and there further off, and, the water is crystalline and shimmering.
‘Alrighty,’ Ali says. ‘Stinky fish are in the water, obviously.’ She turns to look at you, one brow raising. ‘I suppose I should’ve asked beforehand, but, I imagine you can swim, right?’
‘Oh, yeah,’ you reply. ‘Not perfectly by any means, but, I can swim.’
‘And dog paddle?’ Ali asks, her lips titling into a big grin. ‘Kidding. Okay.’
She turns her attention back to the lake, and takes a few steps back. She then crouches her whole body down for a couple seconds, waits, and in a flash, she lunges forward - her body barrels into the lake with a mighty splash, and after you blink once, Ali has delved underwater fully.
You stand there for a moment, mostly perplexed. ‘Won’t that just end up scaring any fish to try and escape…?’
There’s a chuckle above you, and you glance up as Akam floats down to hover by your side. He’s grinning, with his arms crossed. “Master, are you afraid of getting your new fur wet? Or are you hoping that your fellow wolf will be kind enough to fish for your food as well?”
You blink a few times. ‘What? Oh, no, no. I just…’
You trail off and watch a burst of water from across the lake, and you spot Ali jumping out as if she’s trying to chase a fish. It’s a humorous sight to witness, and you take a moment to gather what the heck you just saw. Akam, meanwhile, laughs fully beside you.
“My, you certainly know how to pick intriguing humans, don’t you, Shira?” Akam asks.
Shira, who is on the ground now a couple inches away, shakes her head with a broad grin upon her face. “Would you believe she was much shyer before the two of us met? I fear I may have inadvertently unleashed the braver side of her personality that she’s kept locked away since she was a child.”
“Somehow, this doesn’t surprise me,” Akam replies. He’s thoroughly amused.
You watch form a moment longer, noticing an increase in ripples as Ali shoots around the lake. She surfaces once to catch her breath, then dives right back in, and you wonder if the magic has given her stronger breathing capabilities.
“Come now, Master,” Akam says. He gives you a gentle nudge. “Don’t stand there and starve yourself! Surely, you can figure out a solution to catch a fish or two in your mighty jaws while underwater.”
‘Does the magic that’s transformed us allow us to breathe longer?’ you ask.
Akam ponders this. “I’d say that… perhaps a small bit longer, yes. A wolf could hold their breath for an expected amount of time, but, as you are both wolf and human, and blessed by my magics…” He rubs his chin. “You have the ability to keep your breath held for probably a few minutes more than normal. And before you ask, you should be able to move a bit faster, and see clearly, too.”
“You know, if certain djinn found out how we’ve spoiled our Masters, we’d be laughed at for quite a while,” Shira remarks. Her tone is still a light, amused one, and when you look her way, she seems blissfully uncaring about the prospect. “I suppose that’s why we’ve had such good luck with mortals.”
“Perhaps!” Akam agrees.
The two djinn seem to be getting a kick out of this whole ordeal. You admit it is a bit funny to consider - but your stomach reminds you of WHY you’re actually here, standing in front of a lake, in the first place. Knowing this, you sigh in your head and decide it’s time to get wet. You need to eat, after all.
But you don’t power run into the lake the way that Ali did. You take your time and get in, moving until you’re essentially dog paddling through the water. Only then do you suck in a deep, strong breath, before you dunk yourself underwater.
After a moment of feeling the water embrace your body, you open your eyes.
Opening your eyes underwater has never been something you’ve enjoyed doing, yet the sensation doesn’t cause you too much discomfort this time - you blink a few times, and, eventually, your vision adjusts to the waters. You spot Ali chasing after a fish, and then you see in the distance that this lake is utterly teeming with fish!
There are small and medium fish of different shapes and sizes all throughout, although none of them are close enough for you to just grab onto. That would be a little too easy, you expect.
‘Okay then,’ you think. Your chest is feeling fine, so, you have time. ‘How do I want to catch these suckers? Chasing them? Or, do I want to be smart about it instead… I could try to trick a fish into swimming into my mouth.’ You roll your eyes internally. ‘No, maybe I should try to get one to corner itself… The lake is so massive, I need to be smart, either way.’
And so it is that you, a wolf underwater, watching another wolf flounder about in pursuit of a meal, begin to think of your next step - what do you do now?
Do you want to do what Ali is doing and chase after a fish until you catch up to it? Or would you rather try to plan out a smarter method? Your stomach is in need of food, so you know you don’t have all day to figure it out. Time’s ticking.
Written by Hollowpages on 03 November 2020
You hesitate for a moment to really mull this over - and by a moment, that means about ten seconds, since you ARE still submerged underneath the water and all. And, keeping in mind the fact you are not a water-breathing creature even with the magic of shapeshifting, you decide quickly.
You start to push your body forward, kicking your stronger hind legs and ‘paddling’ with your forelegs to propel yourself in the process.
You don’t look at Ali - she’s busy doing her own thing, and you don’t want to intrude, nor do you want to accidentally crash into her or something along those lines - and instead, you focus on the fish. There’s countless fish, scattered all around you, but your eyes are flicking about rapidly to try and locate one you can sink your teeth into.
There. You spot one.
There’s a handful of fish all floating in the same spot, and you zero in on one in particular: a chubbier fish that seems to have a bad fin on one side. You propel onward toward that fish, and as you near it, the other fish bolt away in a flash.
The injured fish, obviously, tries to do the same. But it’s not as fast as the others. Unfortunately, it’s still a fish under the water, so it moves much quicker than you can, at least at first.
‘Okay, little guy…’ you think.
It’s strange, you note, at least in one part of your brain - the notion of ending this fish’s life doesn’t faze you to the same degree you expected it might. But no sooner do you consider this does your stomach gurgle, and, as it does, hunger fills your mind. Hunger becomes the most dominant thing in your brain.
You keep track of the one fish you’re after, and, as you swim after it, your chest begins to feel a bit heavy. You can tell you’ll need to get your breath soon, but, it isn’t too uncomfortable to the point of hindering your movement.
You speed after the fish, and though it’s fast, time proves to be on your side.
With each passing heartbeat, the fish slows, and your legs kick back and forth, giving you a good-sized boost in speed to eventually close the gap between predator and prey. You know you can’t just stupidly open your jaws and hope to swallow the fish - you need to get it closer to the land.
You shoot closer to the tasty little morsel and come at it from the left; doing this forces the fleeing fish to veer right, which is exactly what you want since the ground rises toward that direction.
‘Just… gotta get it closer,’ you think. Your mind is racing, and you try to think of HOW you can get the fish out of the water safely to eat it. How indeed…
You keep on the fish’s tail, until, after a moment longer, you see your chance to strike - the fish is inches away from the ground, and you know the fish has enough smarts to try and shoot either right or left.
Fortunately, you manage to overcome this when your mind flashes back to the sight of Ali shooting out of the lake amid her fish chasing - an idea springs into your mind, and, without any warning, and with no time to really mull it over, you jolt upwards. Your body launches out from the lake, and, as you catch your breath, you come crashing down directly over the spot the fish is in.
The fish moves away from where your full weight is coming down on, but because of momentum and your size, you succeed in doing what you were aiming for: the force of the splash is enough to send a small shockwave through the water, smacking into the fish.
And thanks to your proximity to the water’s edge, that means the fish shoots out of the water entirely.
‘Yes!’ you think, at least when you’ve recovered from the proverbial bellyflop you’ve performed.
Once you recover, you kick your legs and speed-paddle out of the lake. You end up on dry land, pausing once to shake almost without even having to think about it, and then you spot the fish and witness the - somewhat sad, but, still kind of funny - sight of the fish bobbing around uselessly. The poor thing is losing its air rather fast, and you can’t help but stand there, watching as this happens.
After a moment, the fish’s flopping and flailing slows. Then, it ceases.
You trot over to the downed fish and hesitate, again. Despite the fact your hunger is pulsing about in your head, there’s still a part of your mind that dislikes the idea of tearing into a creature like this - fish or not, it’s a living thing, and, since you’ve never been one to eat raw, uncooked foods before…
“Nicely done, Master,” Akam says.
The djinn has flown over to your side, and he hovers a bit in the air. He casts his gaze down to the fish as its gasps for its final breaths, then looks at you.
“Ah… I see,” Akam remarks. He eyes you inquisitively. “Still don’t have the stomach to lay the finishing blow upon the animal, I take it. You are a very gentle soul, Master. I can tell from looking through your mind. Even with the body and abilities of a wolf, you retain your human sentience so clearly.”
You don’t know what to say in response to that. You know only that you need to eat, and, you have a meal right there in front of your soaking wet form…
“Perhaps I could be of some assistance in this predicament,” Akam says.
You glance at the floating genie. He seems to be pondering something very seriously, as his lips are pursed and his eyebrows knitted together.
“Normally, I wouldn’t make offerings of this sort, but,” Akam looks you in the eyes again, and he smiles. “You’ve proven yourself to be one of my favorite Masters. Definitely among the few mortals I’ve truly had a pleasure in knowing, that much I can say without a shred of shame or doubt.”
‘Oh, thank you, Akam,’ you reply.
“Now then,” Akam says. “I have given you miniature gifts previously, so this would be no different. In exchange, however, I will have to remove one of the previous boons I’ve granted you. I feel doing so would be the most fair course to take.”
You nod in agreement. ‘If that’s something you want to do. I, uh… I know I haven’t used my third wish just yet.’
Akam waves a hand off. “Don’t trouble yourself over the third wish, Master. This day has been one of the most exhilarating and entertaining days I’ve had in centuries now, and at this rate, I’m in no rush for it to end just yet.” He folds his arms. “Now, in regards to what I’m offering… before I say as much, you must pick which of the previous boons to remove. You can lose your ability to see time, or, you can lose your ability to see the auras of other beings.”
‘And… what do I gain in return?’ you ask.
Akam grins. “I won’t say for the sake of my own amusement, but… I promise you, on my nature as a djinn, and on my earnest fondness for you, that, it will be a useful benefit. Yet I will say no more.” He nods as he says this. “Choose now, Master, if you wish to trade one of my earlier gifts for something new. Unless, of course, you would rather keep both and continue along as you were.”
He halts from there and waits, watching you.
You start to wonder: what do you want to do?
Written by Hollowpages on 12 November 2020
Obviously, the notion of keeping what abilities you’ve been giving is a strong one. You don’t want to lose either, since, they are quite useful - and while Akam has given you no reason to question him, there is still that little voice in the back of your head that makes you pause to think it over.
And yet, you also have to admit that you are curious what sort of ability you could gain in return - and as you stand there, still dripping wet, you end up choosing. Your rumbling stomach makes it quicker to go ahead with it, too.
‘Okay, Akam,’ you say, and you nod. ‘I would rather keep the ability to see time if I had to pick between the two.’ You glance at the fish, then back at Akam. ‘I trust you. I will give back the ability to see auras, Akam, in exchange for whatever it is you’re offering.’
Akam smiles and nods to this. “Very well, Master. One moment, please.”
He reaches a hand toward you and covers your eyes with that hand - there’s a bright flash, and your vision blurs. After a few seconds, your vision returns, and Akam’s hand is back at his side.
“Now then, you have given your ability to see time,” Akam says. He nods as he says this. “In exchange, I shall gift you a new boon. Again, one moment.”
Once more, he reaches his hand out toward you, and after another flash, his hand is gone. You blink and glance around - nothing seems out of the ordinary, and you don’t ‘feel’ anything new. You wonder what sort of gift the genie has given you, and, more importantly, you wonder how it will help you with the whole ‘eating a raw fish’ part.
‘So, uh.’ You blink once more and give the genie an odd look. ‘What did you do?’
Akam chortles. “The ability I’ve granted you is not a massive one, nor is it remarkably all that impressive. However,” he gestures to the dead fish lying on the ground before you, “look at this morsel and envision something you enjoy eating, Master. It can be any type of food. Just think of an edible substance you like, and, you’ll see.”
You find yourself a bit confused by the remark, but, you end up doing as he says.
You turn your gaze onto the fish and envision it not as a fish, but as something else - you aren’t a super picky person by nature (or, you try not to be, that is), yet the thought of food has you thinking of diners and restaurants and grills…
‘I could go for a cheeseburger,’ you think to yourself.
In a flash, the fish on the ground morphs its shape… into an actual cheeseburger! The burger is literally sitting there, steam wafting off the patty - it’s on a bun, with melted cheese, lettuce, tomato, ketchup: the whole shebang.
‘What… in the world…’
Akam chortles again, as if he is trying to hold in his laughter. “A good choice!”
You blink a few times and approach the apparent cheeseburger that has manifested out of thin air. You sniff it. The sweet, sizzling smell fills your nose, and you smell all the components. The cheese, the sesame seed bun, the veggies, the ketchup, the meat itself. Your mouth waters, and without even thinking about it, you open your jaws and snatch the burger up.
As it enters your mouth, you taste only burger. It’s delicious!
It fills your gullet, and as you chew it down, bits trickle down your throat, filling your throat with the flavors. There is no fish taste, no fish flavor. No sign that this thing was a fish moments ago at all, let alone any sort of wetness or salt from the lake.
When you finish, you swallow what remains. The flavors linger on your tongue.
You lick your lips. Your stomach feels MUCH better now that you’ve eaten a literal hamburger. Yet now, as you stand there, you feel confusion once more. You turn to eye Akam, and find the genie laughing silently to himself.
“Oho, Master,” the genie says. He’s beaming. “Forgive my bout of mirth, but, I can’t help myself.” He snickers and, after a moment longer, he sobers up and clears his throat. The genie floats to land in front of you now, that smile still wide and bright. “Seeing you gobble that cheeseburger in one bite was quite frankly a sight to behold! Especially after you were so hesitant and tentative with devouring a live fish. But, I digress. How did it taste?”
‘It… it tasted fantastic,’ you reply. You’re still a little gobsmacked. ‘I don’t get it, though. Did… did I turn the fish INTO a cheeseburger? Or was that a clever illusion or something?’
Akam strokes his chin in thought. “A little of both, I would say. Though, I suppose if I were to be honest, it was more the former than the latter.”
He winks. You continue to gawk.
“The gift I have given you is the ability to transform items with your will,” Akam says after another pause of silence. “Meaning, Master, you did indeed transform the fish into another thing entirely. However!” He holds up a finger. “Be advised that with this ability, there are rules, similar to the rules of your transformation.”
You are still a little gobsmacked, but, as your brain processes all this, you find yourself feeling both excited and curious. ‘What rules might those be?’
“First and foremost, it does not work on people,” Akam says. “Nor will it work on vehicles, or certain breeds of creature. You can use this boon on inanimate objects just fine, and, you can also use it on deceased creatures. Smaller animals are also a possibility.” He nods along to this. “And second, you can only use it three times per hour. No more.”
‘I see,’ you remark. ‘So I’ve used it once, and I can use it two more times in the same hour?’
“The hour time limit will begin when you use it a third time,” Akam replies, a little glimmer in his eyes. “That way, you can’t ‘cheat,’ as it were.”
‘Okay,’ you reply. ‘That’s fair, I suppose. And really, really neat. Thank you.’
Akam nods. “My pleasure, Master.”
The feeling of a full burger has alleviated your hunger considerably. You then turn your attention back to the lake, and after a couple minutes of relative silence, there’s a mighty splash. Ali comes trotting out, soaking and with the remains of a half-eaten fish in her teeth. She stops in front of you and shakes the water off. She’s grinning wide and bright.
‘Hot damn,’ Ali says. ‘That… was entertaining.’
‘Did you actually manage to catch something?’ you ask, feeling quite amused.
‘Yup,’ Ali replies. She grins even bigger. ‘Caught and devoured three fish in the lake. Took me a bit, but--’ She belches before she can finish, and a chunk of fish plops onto the ground. Ali blinks, snorts, and shakes it off. ‘They were mighty filling.’ Then, she eyes you. ‘Did you get anything?’
‘Yes,’ you say. You decide not to spill the beans on your newfound ability… yet.
‘Good, good,’ Ali says. ‘Well then. Now we rest, and…’
She pauses suddenly and her nose wrinkles. She sniffs the air a few times.
‘What is it?’ you ask.
‘Something smells funny,’ Ali says. She turns her head to the side. ‘And no, I don’t mean a stinky smell like us or like the fish. I mean… something else. It’s close by.’
She frowns and takes a few steps, and she gazes across the lake.
‘It’s coming from over there,’ Ali says. She turns back to you. ‘Do you wanna investigate it?’
You frown and breathe in deep - you can smell the lake, the ground, the trees and the grass, and both you and Ali, smelling like wet dog. Yet there IS another scent that doesn’t seem to be apart of that, and it catches your interest.
Shall you investigate?
Written by Hollowpages on 18 November 2020
You sniff the air several more times to get a better register of this weird smell you and Ali have caught wind of, but it’s hard to pinpoint given the other scents surrounding you. It’s definitely different from what you’re used to, and, it isn’t at all like any other smell you’ve known.
‘I guess we can investigate,’ you remark after a moment.
Ali nods and starts to move, and you follow close behind.
The two of you circle around the perimeter of the lake, since the weird scent is fixated across it. It takes a few minutes, but you eventually reach the other side, and from there, the smell is a few feet ahead of you, coming from the forest.
You and Ali head through the trees. Your paws pad down on the soft dirt and grass, and you keep sniffing the air to follow the direction of this bizarre scent.
After a few minutes, you both come to the sight of the smell. It’s coming from a small hole of some sort that’s just nestled in the dirt - the hole is half-uncovered, a few rocks and flecks of dirt nearby it. It looks like someone - or something, like a bear or another wolf, perhaps - was in the process of trying to uncover something underground, then gave up midway through it and wandered off.
‘Weird,’ Ali says. She steps up to the hole and breaths in deep. ‘Smells very, very weird.’
‘Are you sure it isn’t just a combination of things?’ you ask.
Ali ponders this. ‘Maybe? I dunno. Shira?’
You recall that you lost track of the two genies prior to this - and right after Akam gave you this new ability, too, though he didn’t leave when Ali came over to talk - and you turn your neck behind you. The two genies float over the bushes. Akam lands to your side, while Shira lands in front of the hole.
“Oh my,” Shira says. She sniffs as well, and her expression changes. She has an odd look. “I didn’t expect to come across something like this today.”
‘What is it?’ Ali asks.
“It’s one of our kin,” Akam replies.
That startles the both of you.
‘Another genie?’ you say. ‘Underground? In the middle of a forest?’
Akam nods. He is frowning now. “It’s not unheard of to randomly stumble across a sealed jinn in the wild, as it were. Although, it’s certainly… rare.”
“Especially now of all times,” Shira remarks. “Usually, whenever a djinn gains a Master, there is… a bit of a process behind it.” She looks at you, then to Ali. “When we are in our lamps or whatever container, we typically expel a sort of… call it an invisible energy. This energy is what lures in prospective new masters, like an unseen calling card of sorts.”
“There’s no set standard for it, per se,” Akam adds. “However, it works by tugging in the mortal through their subconscious. Like casting a fishing lure out into a massive ocean with a specific form of bait - only some humans will feel the tug, yet they won’t even know they’re being tugged in until they’ve ended up at our abodes.”
‘So there’s a genie in a container there,’ you say, and you cock your head to the side. ‘I thought that genies were… I guess, um, in some kind of…’
‘Alternate, detached world,’ Ali finishes for you.
“Primarily, yes,” Akam says. He folds his arms. “It’s like a pocket realm attached to your world that we ourselves create. We do this ordinarily as a means of easing the mortal into discovering us, because, let’s face it, if a mortal stumbled onto a literal djinn in an antique store, it would likely raise more than a few eyebrows around them.”
“But as I said,” Shira remarks. She leans down to study this half-uncovered hole. “It’s been known that mortals will stumble onto djinn in the wild like this, in the literal sense.”
‘So this isn’t some kind of pocket realm?’ Ali asks.
“No, dear,” Shira says. “We are in your world still, in your wilderness.”
‘What should we do?’ you ask.
Akam seems uncertain. “To be frank, Master, I don’t have an answer.”
“There is no rule against us uncovering whomever may be beneath here,” Shira says. She shrugs. “However, if we do so, we need be careful. Either myself or Akam may know the denizen dwelling beneath the ground, but we might not know them, either. There’s a chance they could be a troublesome djinn should we decide to disturb them.”
‘Are we able to free them from their lamp or whatever?’ Ali asks. ‘Or, because the two of us have you both, does that mean we can’t?’
“You’d be able to let them out to speak, yes,” Akam says. “But they would be unable to depart from their lamp without a Master to serve. It is our kind’s rules to ensure we don’t go running amok and causing mischief. Then again, they may try to bargain with us over it.”
Shira snorts. “They could try.”
There’s a moment of silence after this has been spoken. The obvious silence is geared toward whether or not you and Ali wish to dig up this apparent jinn, as it were, which becomes evident when both Akam and Shira look at you and Ali respectively. Their expressions are calm and stoic, but curious.
“You can do whatever the two of you decide,” Akam says.
Shira nods. “We won’t intervene should you wish to let your curiosity get the best of you. It’s an entirely understandable thing, too, given the nature of things.” She snickers at this. “So, you can leave our kin be, and let someone else come across them. Or, we can unearth them to see whether or not it may be someone Akam or I know personally…”
“There are plenty of options to go off should you wish to dig them out,” Akam adds.
You glance at the half-uncovered hole and start to think.
The idea of getting to meet another djinn is an exciting one for you - you won’t lie and say that it isn’t. You’ve met Akam, and he’s been wonderful to spend time with. And, Shira has been equally wonderful in the time you’ve known her.
You admit there’s a lot to the djinn world you don’t yet know, and you kind of wish to delve more into it. But then, you also admit to yourself that… well, maybe this jinn will be different. Maybe they’ll be meaner or more cruel, and you worry that if such a jinn is found by the wrong person, then, it could spell trouble…
‘Not that it’s my place to do anything on that account,’ you remind yourself.
Either way, you are curious, but, you want to be smart about this.
You turn to Ali. ‘What do you think, Ali?’
Ali has a perplexed expression on her furry face. You get the sense she’s in a similar boat to you in your opinions - she appears to be questioning whether or not it’s even worth it. However, her interest seems to give out in the end, and she glances at you.
‘I say we find out who this could be,’ Ali says. ‘Before we release them, I mean.’
And so now all three pairs of eyes fall onto you - the choice on whether or not to continue is yours to decide, it would seem. Do you want to unearth the djinn? Or do you want to leave them where they are?
Written by Hollowpages on 27 November 2020
ou mull it over for a moment, but in the end, your own curiosity has proven to get the better of you - you can’t help but want to find out what may be lurking under the ground, so you nod in agreement to the idea.
‘I say we go for it,’ you remark. ‘Nothing makes me think it’s a bad idea to at least investigate, until either of you says we should stop.’
“A most apt decision, Master,” Akam says. He smiles wide. “I very much appreciate that you’re considering our suggestions in this matter - I know I must be repeating myself at this point, but I am always very touched to find a Master with a good head on their shoulders.”
Shira scoffs with a playful air. “You mean a good head in always seeking your guidance, Akam?”
“Well, that too,” Akam replies, shrugging innocently. “We djinn are old and proud beings. We like it when the youngsters listen to us, or at least care enough to ask for our opinions on matters.” He gives a little wink to you, then folds his arms. “At any rate, Master, I will stand by your decision. It’s no harm to me, nor to my hidden kin, so I see no reason to deny your curiosity.”
‘Well, what are we waiting around for, then?’ Ali asks. ‘We gonna dig this bad boy up or what?’
You grin. ‘Let’s.’
Ali nods after you, and the two of you move to stand on either side of the mound of dirt. Before you start to dig into the ground, you take a moment to think about something - you may be curious about all this, sure, but you’re not the sort to indulge in being overly reckless, so you decide you want to be cautious as well.
‘Do we need to be, um, wary of anything?’ you ask either of the genies.
“Mm, nothing comes to mind,” Akam replies. He strokes his chin in thought, glancing to his fellow djinn. “We’ll keep an eye out, to be safe, of course.”
“Most certainly,” Shira says with a nod.
You look to Ali again.
‘C’mon, you heard them. Let’s do this,’ Ali says, grinning wide.
She’s clearly excited, and you feed off that excitement.
Without another word, the two of you begin to dig into the ground together - your big paws make short work of the dirt that seems to be housing another djinn, although it takes a bit of time for the two of you two dig down to where the container of said djinn happens to be.
‘Not what I expected to be doing after eating,’ you remark to yourself, although Ali can hear still given the wavelength the two of you share. ‘But I can’t lie and say I’m not excited about it.’
‘Ha, tell me about it,’ Ali replies. ‘This is super cool. Most fun and excitement I’ve had in one day, lemme tell you.’
It takes a few minutes, maybe four or five total, for the two of you to dig, dig, and dig down into the ground, before you create a big enough hole together - and by then, you stumble across the source of the magical smell: it isn’t a lamp like you half-expected it to be, however, and at first, you aren’t sure WHAT it is that the djinn is living within.
‘We’ve found it,’ Ali says.
The two genies float over to join you in full. You peer down at the thing that’s now been uncovered, and soak it in. Instead of a lamp, it appears to be some sort of small vase that the djinn is housed in - a very old-looking vase at that, since the shape and design doesn’t strike you as anything close to modern.
Said old-looking vase is a muted yellow in color, with inked designs on it made from dark-red, blue, and black inks, although you aren’t entirely sure WHAT these designs are. From a glance, they appear to be another language entirely, although some of the shapes could be figures instead of letters. You aren’t sure, nor do you want to jump to conclusions and assume what it could be.
‘I’ve never seen a vase like this before,’ you say, as you continue to examine it.
You start to lean in to grab it with your mouth - after all, you’ve got these teeth that you can put to use, so why not use them? - but before you can get too close to the vase, Akam stops you by putting a gentle hand on your muzzle.
“Hold a moment, Master,” Akam says. “Let me move it out for you…”
He extends a hand toward the vase. His hand begins to glow, and with a crackle of reddish energy, the vase begins to float up from the ground, following the motion of Akam’s hand. It hovers and then gradually drops on a soft part of the ground, where Shira is now standing. She examines the vase closely, and as she’s inspecting it, her eyes go wide with shock.
“Oh… oh my,” Shira says. She continues to gawk for a moment, as if she’s somehow seen a ghost. Then, she looks to Akam. “Now THIS is a shock. Akam, is this what I think it is? And does it hold whom I think it is?”
You and Ali trot over to be closer, both of you sharing mutual looks of curiosity - the tone Shira spoke in has you both wondering what you might’ve just uncovered, because it doesn’t seem like a ‘good’ thing any longer.
Akam joins her, and he, too, takes on a similar expression.
“Do my eyes deceive me?” Akam asks her.
“No, they most certainly don’t,” Shira replies. The two share a look. “It’s what it appears to be, Akam. Of all times, of all places… to come across a vase like this, buried in the woods…”
‘What kind of vase is this?’ Ali asks. She’s obviously quizzical about whatever it is the two djinn are discussing - you don’t blame her, because you feel the same. ‘Doesn’t look like anything from the history books I’ve read. Not that I’m super well-versed on vases or anything.’
‘Ancient Greek, maybe?’ you offer. ‘Is that why you’re so surprised to see it?’
“No,” Shira says. “The shape of the vase appears old, yes, but that isn’t what’s caught my attention. It’s the designs you see that has us both reacting in such a way.” She gestures to one design in particular, her eyebrows lowering into a frown. “What does this look like to you two humans, pray tell?”
‘Um, well… I’m not sure,’ you admit. ‘I can’t tell if it’s art or writing.’
‘Yeah, I figured it was maybe some fancy script,’ Ali adds.
Shira’s frown has strengthened. “You’re not wrong. It’s writing, yes, but it isn’t the sort of writing either of you would recognize. This is a very particular type of scripting, the sort I haven’t seen in a long, long time now.”
You look at Akam, who has a similar frown on his face.
“She’s right,” Akam says.
‘What sort of writing is it?’ you ask.
“It’s difficult to put into terms you’d understand, Master,” Akam replies. His lips twitch. “Not because of reasons you might expect… rather, it’s difficult because the culture this writing came from is one neither of you have ever heard of before.” He looks at you fully. “It’s from a peoples that haven’t existed in centuries, and you won’t find any record of them anywhere in history.”
You stare at him. ‘Wait, for real?’
‘How is that possible?’ Ali asks.
“Because most of them died out,” Shira replies. “However, the others…”
There’s a beat of silence.
“Do you wish to know?” Akam asks. He is sincere in his question, and he has a troubled look in his eyes, as if the subject may not be the best or most pleasant thing to talk about. “This isn’t what I expected you to find, Master. It’s a great deal more complex then either of us initially thought, I’d dare say…”
Silence falls. You start to wonder… DO you want to know?
Written by Hollowpages on 03 December 2020
You admit that, while yes, you are fascinated by the world of genies and magic, and yes, you do consider yourself a very inquisitive person by nature, the looks on the faces of the two djinn make you give pause to really ponder whether or not it’s a wise idea to ask further. Even so, you’ve come THIS far, haven’t you?
‘I kind of want to know the truth, yeah,’ you admit. ‘Ali?’
Ali nods. ‘I’ve been embroiled in this for a bit longer. I know it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, Shira. But I think I can handle it.’
The two djinn share a brief look with one another, then nod in unison.
“To try and make a long story short,” Shira says. “This civilization, whose name even I cannot speak, was one that mingled frequently with our kin - the djinns of old were once far more numerous then you might think, and more, for lack of a better term, open when they dealt with mortals. However, our realm’s rules changed due in no small part to what happened to this human society.”
‘Um… what happened?’ you ask.
‘Let me guess,’ Ali says. ‘The genies, erm, killed them off?’
“Oho, no, no,” Akam says. He shakes his head. “Even in those times, our kind was forbidden from killing a mortal - we could not take a life even if we desired to, due in part to our very nature.”
You tilt your head to the side. ‘Really?’
Akam waves a hand. “There’s a lot of backstory involved with how the djinn of old used to be, and I don’t want to waste too much time getting into it. Though,” he pauses and smiles, “I would be happy to tell you more later. Suffice to say, that isn’t what befell this society. Rather, then fact you’ve never heard of them, and the fact we cannot speak of their name… these are tied into their fate.”
“They were cursed,” Shira says, a second after Akam finishes speaking. “The entire society - every man, every woman, every child - was cursed, due to a mixture of carelessness, frivolousness, and arrogance. In some part, the humans were to blame, but, much of the blame fell upon the djinn of that time.”
‘Cursed?’ Ali asks.
‘What sort of… curse are we talking about here?’ you ask. You glance at the strange vase. ‘And how does that relate to the, um, designs on this vase?’
“The curse was brought about by a wish,” Akam replies. His lips purse, and for a moment, he appears more… somber. “A wish that was made, yet because of the wording used, the djinn who granted that wish decided to… exploit said wording, in ways you would consider petty or cruel, even though such words don’t typically exist in our vocabulary. And it backfired, with far-reaching ramifications toward both human and djinn alike.”
Your eyes widen.
‘Oh…’ Ali says. ‘Then… does that mean this vase is…?’
“Not the same djinn responsible, no,” Shira replies. She puts a hand on Ali’s shoulder and offers her a small, comforting smile. “That djinn is long, long gone, my dear - as dead as a djinn can possibly be, of that you have no need to be worried. He was punished for his actions, but because his choices were so damaging and destructive, it caused quite the uproar. Nothing of the kind had ever happened until that wish was granted.”
“The uproar was enough that many djinn took his side,” Akam adds with a nod. “They tried to, I suppose the best way to put it is ‘campaign’ on his behalf, feeling his choices weren’t warranting of any punishment. However, the humans of this civilization were none too pleased. And, well,” his lips purse again, and Akam frowns. “There isn’t a way to put it delicately, I’m afraid.”
‘Is that what led to the curse?’ you ask.
“Yes,” Shira replies. “That group of djinn, angered and arrogant, blamed the mortals for their own weakness and folly - and so they used their power to effectively doom that entire society. The curse, you see, was the curse of erasure: such that they would end up ceasing to exist in every way possible.”
“From that instant onward, no more children would be born,” Akam says. “Men and women alike lost that ability to reproduce due to the magics, and nothing they did could change this. Worse, their entire population was hit by a great virus, one that seeped through bone to their very cores. It left them weaker, more vulnerable to the elements, and because this was so very long ago…”
“There were no cures,” Shira added. She gives another sigh. “No medicine. No rituals. No spirits, nor even deities, could help them - and so it was that they began to die off, and with them, their culture faded into nothingness.”
Silence falls after these words have been said.
You’re speechless from the horror at the very implication of all this. An entire culture, eradicated because of djinn - it’s something out of a fantasy book or movie, yet here you are, in the form of a wolf, hearing that it happened for real.
‘That’s… that’s tragic,’ Ali says, her internal voice as quiet as a whisper.
‘But, wait,’ you say. ‘I don’t understand. You said the genie responsible was punished for the way he granted his wish. And you make it sound like these other genies were punished, too?’
“Oh, they were,” Shira says. Her eyes flash dangerously. “You see, my friend, the reason why our essences are now bound to lamps and other such objects…” She indicates the vase. “This is why we are now like this, rather then being free to venture about and explore the world as we once could.”
‘But how?’ you ask. You’re intrigued and mortified, yet still want to know.
“There is a, shall we say, class of djinn unlike the two of us,” Shira answers, nodding toward Akam. “They are older. Stronger. Wiser. They existed when humans were still in the midst of evolving, a species unbound by flesh and blood the way you and Ali are. These elders were the ones who maintained the rules among all djinn. It was they who used their power, power that you would define as ‘near godlike,’ to enforce the punishments on ALL djinn.”
“And thus, you now only find us in our little makeshift homes,” Akam says. “That’s why we can’t willingly leave our containers, and why our power is weakened to such a degree - it was those elder djinn who ensured that.”
‘I think I get it,’ Ali says. ‘So these, um, ancient genies? They decided to punish your entire species because of the actions of this one group, then, and because of them, your powers are weaker, and you can’t really leave your lamps until a new master comes along?’
“Exactly,” Shira says.
“Getting back to the other topic,” Akam says, and now, he looks at the vase. “The djinn who lives within this vase is one from that time - he was one of the few who chose to use his powers to curse those mortals, which is why he is bound to a vase with a dead language etched upon it.” He shakes his head. “Forced to be tied to a permanent reminder of his choices for eternity.”
Silence falls. You and Ali look at one another, then to the vase.
“Do you wish to know more?” Shira asks. “And, perhaps, even speak to him?”
“The choice is yours,” Akam adds.
Once more, you wonder - do you want to continue to learn, and perhaps take the next step? Or do you want to leave things where they are with this genie?
Written by Hollowpages on 08 December 2020
You mull the decision over for a moment, leery about the prospect. Sure, there’s no harm in learning more - or, at least, you tell yourself that much - but you don’t know what to expect if you continue seeking out more information.
But as you stand there on all fours, thinking, you honestly feel like you’ve come this far enough. Might as well pursue it further, since you don’t have anything else to do (and really, could you just up and leave this subject behind without finding out the rest of what there was?).
You know your answer, either way. ‘I don’t mind. I’ve learned this much, I may as well find out more.’
‘I agree,’ Ali says. ‘You can’t just start to drop all this juicy information on us, then cut us off before you get to the good part!’
The two djinn chuckle at this.
“Fair enough,” Akam says. “Then, let it be so.”
“The djinn who lives within this vase is named Alajeem,” Shira replies. She crosses her arms and snorts. “Back in the day, he was a nasty pain in the ass to deal with. Not the worst djinn, I suppose, but I never really cared for his damnable ego. Always trotting about like he thought he was ‘hot shit’ as you humans would say.”
‘Do you both know him?’ you ask, your eyes flicking to Akam.
Akam gives a slight shrug. “Not as much as I know Shira, personally, but yes, I’m acquainted with our fellow djinn here.” His lips twitch, a smile tugging at one corner. “You’ll find most of us know one another in some way. There are rare instances when two djinn haven’t met, but usually even in those cases, those two would know one another’s name. We’re that sort of species.”
‘Jeez,’ Ali says. ‘How old ARE you guys, anyways?’
Shira laughs. “My sweet, we are so very, VERY old. I dare say that mere words alone wouldn’t do justice to how long we’ve existed in your realm.” She winks. “Either way, pay that no mind. I know enough about this asshole here,” she spits down at the ground near the vase, “to comfortably state what he’s like. I don’t know that age has done anything to deter his personality, however. Haven’t spoken with Alajeem in over seven hundred years, maybe longer.”
‘Wow,’ you think. ‘That’s just… wow. That’s a lot to think about.’
“I’d heard quite a bit about him from a few other djinn,” Akam says. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to find out the rumors and whispers were true.”
“Ridiculously true,” Shira says. She glances down at the vase, her features molding into a rather amused expression. “It’s been quite a long while since I’ve last seen or spoken to him, hasn’t it, Alajeem? How have the past few centuries treated you, hmm? Have you learned your lesson, or do you still consider yourself to be the best thing around, I wonder?”
There’s a pause. You frown at the tone she’s using.
‘Wait,’ Ali says. She steps up and glances down at the vase. ‘He can hear us?’
“Oh, most certainly,” Shira says, and she rolls her eyes. “It may not seem like it, but we can hear, see, and sense all that’s within our surroundings at any given time whenever we’re in our abodes. This fool,” she gestures to the vase, “has heard everything we’ve said, and seen everything, too. No doubt he’s had a lovely view of the ground for who knows how long. Why, his vase looks like it hasn’t been touched by a new master in a millenia!”
Akam nods along to this. “It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s been that long. Perhaps even longer.” He shrugs. “Time is a strange creature to us, as I feel I’ve said before.”
You look to Ali. ‘What do you want to do next?’
Ali’s eyes flash with a perplexed look. ‘I mean, I’m loving all this new, exciting genie lore. But, I admit, I don’t know.’ She turns to Shira. ‘Shira, is there any rules against speaking to a genie if we aren’t their chosen Master?’
“No, my dear,” Shira replies. “No rules exist that prevent us from communicating with one another - it just isn’t something that happens often since we djinn don’t cross paths normally.”
‘Could he do… um, anything?’ you ask. ‘Like put a curse one of us?’
“No, not at all,” Shira says, firmer now. “That much we guarantee.”
“Though it should be noted,” Akam says, “that if we do decide to speak to him, he cannot manifest very far beyond the vase. Because the two of you are already working with myself and Shira, he has no Master to claim him, thus, he has no means of staying ‘out’ of his vase for long. Ah, but, yes, Master.” He smiles at you. “No need to worry. He’s unable to do anything to any of us.”
You feel a little relieved by this knowledge.
‘Could be fun,’ AIi remarks to you. ‘I’m game for whatever, though, so I’ll let you be the one to decide. Doesn’t bother me if you want to keep this guy in his vase, or if you think it’d be cool to chat with him. If he’d even want to chat.’
Shira scoffs. “With how long he’s been cooped up in the vase, I imagine the fool would be a little thankful for some actual company. Wouldn’t you. Alajeem?”
“Don’t mock the fool more then he’s already been so degraded,” Akam says, his tone one of obvious playfulness.
There’s a moment of silence as you begin to ponder whether or not you want to SPEAK to the djinn in the vase. You suppose you may as well proceed since you’ve already started, right? But before you get any further, you pause - in fact, both you and Ali seem to notice something at the same time, because your nostrils flare as an unfamiliar scent reaches you.
You sniff the air. ‘What’s that?’
Ali grunts. ‘I don’t know, but it stinks.’
You turn your heads toward the source of the smell, and after a moment longer, you begin to feel like you ‘know’ what the source is. Then, as your mind races, Alice lets out a quiet noise and shifts to eye you.
‘It’s a person,’ she says. ‘Someone’s coming this direction.’
Your eyes flick to Akam. ‘Did the magic mask you put on me so I looked like a normal dog wear off?’
“Yes, Master,” Akam replies. “You and Ali both appear as wolves.”
‘What do you want to do, Ali?’ you ask her. ‘I don’t know what sort of person is coming this way, but…’ You look down at the vase, and at the obvious hole you and Ali dug up. ‘We might want to, I dunno, take the vase, too, right?’
‘We could hide, yeah,’ Ali replies. ‘Or we could stand our ground and just see what it is we’re dealing with. As far as the vase goes, would it be bad to leave it? I mean, if the person ends up with Alajeem as a Master…’
The two djinn appear conflicted.
“It’s up to you two what you think is best,” Shira replies. Her frown makes it clear she isn’t keen on the idea of leaving the vase, however. “What do you want?”
You start to think - what do you want to do?
Written by Hollowpages on 11 December 2020
The scent is approaching quickly, and you realize you don’t have the time to dawdle around for super long - you snap to attention, then turn to Akam.
‘Akam, I know this is a lot to ask of you, but…’
“Master,” the djinn says, a knowing look in his eyes. “Speak what you want, not as a wish, but as a favor.”
‘I think we should at least move away from this spot,’ you say, and you make sure you look to Ali while you say this. ‘I’d rather not stick around to be safe. And I also feel we should maybe take the vase with us. No offense to your, um, ‘friend’ there, but I don’t know… the way you both made it sound before when it comes to people finding djinn, it’s probably better if it isn’t some random person, right?’
The two djinn share a brief look.
“Fair enough, I say,” Shira replies. “Doesn’t bother me regardless of what we do with the vase.”
Akam nods, then gestures. “You two move to a place where you feel safe. Shira and I will take care of Alajeem’s vase. And don’t fear, we’ll be undetected by any mortal eyes that may be upon us shortly. Do be cautious, though.”
His hands start to glow, and the vase lifts itself off the ground. The two genies float off, and you turn your attention to Ali. Ali motions you on, so you follow her to a shady spot not too far off from where you dug the vase up - there’s a row of trees, and thick enough bushes that you can hide there, yet you’re still able to look ahead toward the source of the scent that’s still coming closer.
‘Who would be coming this way at a time like this?’ you wonder.
‘Beats me,’ Ali replies. ‘This area isn’t really one I know super well, but to my knowledge, I’d expect hikers? Joggers, maybe. Not sure who else would want to come down here at this time of day, since this IS the wilderness and all.’
You frown, but you don’t get a chance to comprehend it for very long.
The scent is closing in, and you hear footsteps soon after - and then, a man steps out from the trees across from where the two of you are hiding.
The man appears to be in his thirties, maybe. Not super fit, but in decent enough shape for sure, like he maybe walks a lot or is just blessed with really swift metabolism. He has short, messy brown hair, and a scruffy beard that covers most of his lower facial area entirely. He’s dressed in dirty jeans and a wife beater shirt, a vest that’s unzipped on top of this. He’s got a backpack on, too, but what alerts you the most is what he’s holding: a hunting rifle!
‘You gotta be kidding me,’ you think. ‘Is this dude a hunter?’
‘Fuck,’ Ali says. ‘Not at all what I was expecting to see.’
‘Yeah, you’re telling me!’ you reply. ‘Is this even considered hunting territory?’
‘I don’t know,’ Ali replies. ‘Try and relax, would you?’ She sneaks a look your way. ‘Getting nervous isn’t going to do you any favors. Let’s just wait and see what he does.’
You sigh internally, but don’t argue with her point.
The hunter zeroes in directly on the spot where you and Ali were moments ago, and he takes particular interest in the hole you both left from digging up the genie’s vase. He scowls and starts to inspect the area, muttering some words under his breath while he begins to sift around in the dirt. He’s not super far from you both (since you can see him perfectly clear and know what he’s doing), yet he IS too far to properly hear what he’s rambling on about.
‘I wonder what he’s saying,’ you think to yourself. ‘Looks like maybe he knew there was something in the ground there? Could he have been the one that put the vase there?’
You try to focus, if only to listen better.
“…damn coyotes musta dug up somethin’…” was all you could pick up from listening in to him mumble to himself.
It’s clear from how he is actually getting his hands into the dirt that the man, hunter or otherwise, is looking for anything he can find. You wish you could get a little closer to hear better, but you don’t dare take the risk - a man with a gun isn’t something you want to deal with, even when you are in the body of a wolf right now.
‘What do you think we should do?’ you ask Ali. ‘Maybe we should make a run for it while he’s busy digging in the dirt? What do you think, Ali?’
Ali takes a moment to respond. ‘I don’t think so. We’re too big as wolves, and since there’s nothing else but silence around us…’ Her eyes flick to you. ‘I can’t say exactly what WOULD happen, but I’ve got a hunch if we try to move around too much, he might hear us and come charging over with his gun.’
‘Yeah, good point,’ you think.
You look about, and the way you two are angled - combined with the distance and your surroundings - doesn’t offer much in terms of safe ways for the two of you to get out of there. You’re not far from the lake you dived into earlier, however, the grass you’re crouched in is thick enough that too much motion would make noise. And you feel like you could hear a pin drop as it was.
‘Ten to one, this guy would hear,’ you think to yourself. ‘No way would we be lucky enough to avoid grabbing his attention unless he was further away…’
The hunter continues to shuffle about in the the dirt, even setting his rifle down at last as he does - he’s adamant on really getting into the ground, as if he KNOWS something is there, or knows something used to be there. His features are one of annoyance and determination, but you get the feeling that, if he’s looking for the vase, he isn’t going to find it - and if he starts to get upset, then, that only adds more tension to the whole ordeal.
‘We can’t just wait for him to stop and hope he leaves,’ you muse. ‘That might happen in movies, but, this isn’t a movie or a video game. I don’t like to assume things about people, I just get the feeling this guy…’
‘I know,’ Ali says. She sighs internally. ‘He stinks like he’s been drinking. Bet he’s some kind of, y’know, country backwood type since he’s dressed the part. Probably would shoot at us without even bothering to see if we were a danger to him. Let’s just wait a moment longer.’ She presses her body lower to the ground, and you do the same. ‘We can always call our genies to help us if we need them.’
You don’t say anything, but you know she has a point.
At last, the man, disgruntled, swears audibly and stands up. His face is red, and he looks around, muttering more under his breath. He grabs his rifle, then seems to notice the footprints left behind by you and Ali on the ground.
‘Oh, shit,’ Ali thinks.
Your mind starts to race. Now what do you do?
Written by Hollowpages on 14 December 2020
The man with the rifle gazes intently at the footprints that you and Ali left behind. Obviously, he will likely start to follow them, and if he does, he will end up coming right to where you and Ali are currently hunkered down trying to hide. You don’t know what to do with yourself - nor do you know what this guy would do if and when he chooses to stumble on over toward where you both are. Although, you know you have a few possible choices.
‘I don’t know if I want to change forms yet,’ you think. ‘But, I don’t know if being in the body of a wolf when there’s a guy with a gun literally right there is a good idea, either…’
But then, something pops into your head.
‘Ali, you can change your form at will into five different animals, right?’ you ask. ‘And you can swap without any sort of time limit, so long as you keep it in those forms you choose… and you’ve only been a vixen and a wolf today?’
Ali stares at you for a moment before she catches on to what you’re trying to get toward. She grins deviously at you.
‘That’s right,’ she replies. ‘I can still pick three different forms for the day, besides my normal human form. Shit, I didn’t even think of that - I can probably turn into something that can get us out of this jam a little easier…’
‘What about something fast and small?’ you suggest.
‘I think I know what you’re getting at.’
Without a word, you watch her body start to morph - and she starts to abruptly transform into a new animal before your eyes like before when she went from vixen to wolf. Only now, her shifting is in reverse since she starts to get small.
Her long snout scrunches backwards into her face, while her pointed ears extend up toward the sky. Her body, meanwhile, shrinks down, and with this brisk shrinking, her legs and feet become smaller, though her feet do remain relatively ‘big’ overall. Her tail retracting back into her rear is perhaps the most amusing sight to witness throughout this, since the long, floofy tail becomes a big, rounded puff on her rear within seconds.
Her fur grows lighter, shifting in color to a woodsy light brown, and once her body has finished shrinking and her ears now stick up, whiskers pop out from her cheeks, while her fangs become little more than little nibbling teeth.
And thus, she is now a bunny, sitting and looking so small compared to you.
‘Ugh,’ Ali says. ‘I forgot how much I hated being in such a tiny little body…’
You don’t get a chance to respond because you can hear the muttering of the man with the gun - the hunter (you suppose that’s what he is) is starting to stalk toward the spot where the two of you are, his gun at the ready just in case.
‘Okay,’ Ali says. ‘I’ll distract him, and you duck out of here. Get somewhere far enough where you think he can’t follow.’
‘Are you going to be okay?’ you ask.
She snorts. ‘Yeah, I’ll be fine. I went with the fastest rabbit I could think of, and while this bozo has a gun, he stinks like he’s been drinking. Bet I can use that to my advantage to keep him busy. Don’t worry about me, just get your wolfy butt outta here!’
She takes off without giving you a moment to respond, and like a little bullet, she sprints through the grass - this rustles the grass loudly enough that the hunter halts his gradual movement to stare in bewilderment. He immediately raises his gun up and starts to follow, stumbling after the source of noise without even pausing to look your direction.
‘Dear God, she’s crazy,’ you think.
But, you don’t dwell on it - you turn your attention to focus on the hunter, waiting for him to hobble after Ali, and when he’s far enough you think you can make your move, you do: you bolt out of there as quickly as you can.
You run back the direction you came from, wrapping around the perimeter of the large lake. Once you make it to the spot where you both dived into the lake to catch fish, you keep going, retracing your steps as lightly as you can manage (since making heavy indentations will only spur on the hunter if he decides to keep searching for you). You don’t stop until you’ve made a good distance from that area, by which point, there are more trees for more cover.
You slow down and eventually stop, halting yourself between a few trees where there are a few large enough bushes where your wolf form can relax.
You let out a shaky breath. ‘Hoo boy. Definitely not what I expected when I started this whole thing, that’s for sure…’
Of course, now you are on your own. No Ali, and when you glance about, you don’t see any sign of the two genies. You imagine Shira would be keeping a close eye on Ali since the two are apparently in a relationship together, but, as far as Akam goes…
“Right here, Master.”
You blink and glance up to see Akam hovering about in mid-air a few feet near you, sitting cross-legged in the air with the vase floating beside him. He smiles wide when you make eye contact, then he floats on down to where you are.
He lands, and the vase lands on the grass near you.
“Quite the narrow escape, if I do say so myself, Master,” Akam remarked. “Though I am quite pleased that you are unharmed. I can imagine the fright you must have felt seeing a man with a gun, as, well, the nature of humans when faced with the wilds is fairly unpredictable. I was watching the whole time, mind you. Both Shira and I were, until you two split up from one another.”
‘I imagine Shira is keeping an eye on Ali?’ you ask.
“Oho, for certain,” Akam says. He pauses to scratch his chin. “You know, it’s not often I come across an example of a djinn falling in love with a human. I’m actually very touched when I see it, because it takes a great deal for one of us to develop any sort of genuine connection to a mortal like yourself.”
He smiles wider. “Fortunately, that also means Miss Ali will be the most pampered, protected mortal in existence, I’d wager. No way will Shira allow anything to happen to her - Hell itself would tremble in terror at the wrath of a djinn in love if they felt their chosen paramour were in danger.” He chuckles and shakes his head. “At any rate. She will be fine. That means you can choose what you wish to do next, Master.”
You let out a quiet breath and flop down on the ground. ‘Right now, I just want to rest and see if that guy decides he wants to come after me… though I guess he may not. Never seen him before.’
There’s a moment of silence - you think a little to yourself, and, after pondering, you can’t help but be curious. Since it’s just you and Akam now, you feel you can use this time to ask him questions and learn more, but you can also choose what topic you want to ask about. There are a few on your mind, yet you want to pick one to start off with… and so you muse over what to ask.
Do you want to find out more about djinn society and lore? Do you want to ask him about the djinn in the vase beside the two of you? Or something else?
Written by Hollowpages on 17 December 2020
You mull over the things you could ask, at least until you get a little tired of having to continually make choices - it’s been a long day, you feel - so you decide you’ll try to get everything you can asked, since why not? However, you decide on where you want to start on this: the history of genie kind, because that honestly fascinates you more than anything in the moment.
‘May I ask a question, Akam?’ you inquire.
He smiles still. “You may ask whatever you wish, Master. I can’t guarantee I’ll answer everything,” he winks at this, “but I am quite fond of you, so, I will most likely give you most of what you want to know. Any particular subjects?”
‘I’m curious still about your histories, and about… Alajeem, was it?’ you ask.
“Ah, yes, yes!” Akam says. He brings his hands together excitedly. “I’m always fond of prattling on for ages about things like our history. I’ll be mindful to avoid that, of course.” He chortles, then waves a hand to you. “Now, what is it you’re wanting to ask in relation to these things? And about Alajeem over here?”
‘You said the reason why genies have to be in lamps and stuff is because of this one djinn who put a curse on an ancient civilization, right?’ You glance over toward the vase and stare at it for a moment, then return your gaze to Akam. ‘Alajeem was one of the ones that agreed with that original genie, but he isn’t the one primarily responsible for it. If I recall?’
Akam nods. “Yes, Master. That is correct.”
‘What happened to the original genie?’ you ask. ‘What was his name?’
Akam pauses here. His features grow slightly more serious. “That is… a complex matter to go into. Not because I do not wish to speak of it to you, mind, but because it’s hard to put into words that would make sense.”
He scratches his chin again, thinking. You wait, too curious to be impatient.
“His name is no longer one I can utter,” Akam says after a moment. “Part of his punishment was, in essence, the stripping of everything he was - thus, his name is literally no longer in existence. No djinn, no matter their age, can speak it, nor recall what it used to be. I dare say even the oldest djinn who were responsible for the punishment no longer know what it was, only that there was at one point a name. But, then, I could be wrong on that, for I am not one of the oldest among our kin.”
You frown. ‘His punishment was forgetting his name?’
Akam shakes his head. “No, no. Not quite like that.”
He closes his eyes and takes another pause to think, and you can tell he is really putting a lot of effort into whatever he’s mulling over.
“Imagine you grow up knowing someone,” Akam remarks at last, and his eyes reopen. “That someone could be a close friend or a mere acquaintance, but you know them, and they know you. And say that friend’s name is…”
Another beat while he thinks of a name.
‘Steve?’ you offer.
Akam smiles. “Yes! Steve. Let’s say his name is Steve. You grow up alongside Steve from an early age up until adulthood, when you are both in your late twenties, maybe even older, as you maintain a constant sort of relationship to some degree. Regardless. Throughout this time, Steve has shown to be a decent person. He doesn’t do anything too illegal, he is not cruel, nor biased, nor overly derogatory toward anyone else. You like Steve. To you, he’s friendly, polite, and a kind human being. Until one day, that changes.”
Akam holds up a hand and hovers over to be in front of you. “In fact, everyone likes Steve. He has many friends, and many acquaintances, since this community is so very close. No one ever has a bad thing to say about Steve.”
‘Okay,’ you say. ‘I’m with you say far…’
Akam’s features grow a little more severe as he continues. “Steve does something that is completely out of the blue for him,” Akam says. “What he does is not technically illegal, no, yet his actions are atrocious - he has essentially done a morally abhorrent deed that is enough to shock everyone around him, you included, to the point where nearly everyone, feels the ripple effect of his decision, and then, his lack of consideration after the fact.”
You absorb this - you understand what Akam is getting at, for sure.
“Steve is punished for his choices,” Akam says. “And one of those punishments? He loses his name. His identity. Meaning… from that moment on, Steve is no longer Steve. He is a man with no name, as if he never had a name to begin with. It doesn’t matter that you knew him since childhood, you cannot call him Steve. No one can, because your brain refuses to do so.”
Akam taps the side of his temple. “He becomes a pariah within the entire community you live in, a literal non-entity. He exists, yes. He can speak, and he can act, and he can do all things you can do. But you no longer pay attention to him. You ignore his words, you ignore his presence entirely, because you don’t see him as a human being. You see him… the same way you would view a speck of dirt. He may as well be completely invisible.”
You stare. Your mind races with this information. You need a moment to reflect, and then piece it together - but you feel like you have a grasp now.
‘So, in other words,’ you say, ‘this djinn… he’s been erased from your society, almost like he’s been wiped out of your memory?’
“Mm, yes, close,” Akam says with a nod. “I know what he did. I know how he felt and what he said, and how little he was bothered by his actions. But, I no longer know his name. I have long forgotten the sound of his voice, the color of his flesh, and everything about what he was as an actual entity. That, Master, was his punishment. At least,” he smirks, “part of his punishment.”
“Can you imagine what life would be like were you in that situation?” Akam asks. “Where you knew you were a living, breathing person, but literally no one ever even bothered to register your presence? You could talk to everyone, and while some may look directly at you, none of them would ever respond, as if you weren’t talking at all. You would be ignored by everyone… by everything.”
You gawk. That is… the thought sinks into you, and you admit, it’s a scary idea - the notion of being ignored entirely sends a shiver rippling up your spine.
‘I’m sure some people would get a kick out of that, though,’ you remark.
“Mm. At first, maybe.” Akam folds his arms. “But even the most selfish or the most uncaring of humans would eventually grow to resent this. You would be surprised, actually… Sociopathic and psychopathic humans, too, would eventually spiral at the lack of any sort of acknowledgment, I dare say.”
‘Does that mean this djinn, the one behind the cursing… he’s still alive?’ you ask.
“Ah…” Akam’s smirk returns. “That is the beauty of the other part of the punishment. Yes, he is alive. But I would wager that none of us would proclaim what he has to be a ‘life’ any longer. You see, Master, we djinn are entities that exist… separate from your world, despite the fact we live within your world.”
You blink a few times. ‘…huh?’
“We are not bound to the same things you are,” Akam explains. He eyes you with a look that he is sincerely wanting to help you grasp his meaning. “We are beings born from flesh and an essence you liken to magic, is what I mean. But your laws… the moral laws, the physic laws, the nature of time and gravity and age… these do not affect us. Does that help you understand?”
‘I… I think so,’ you say. Your head spins with all this information. ‘So, um. You live here, on Earth, but, you aren’t on the same, uh… like the same plane of reality, I guess?’
“Yes, that’s an apt way of putting it,” Akam says, nodding.
‘Jeez, that is a lot to take in,’ you think.
He chuckles. “Apologies, Master. I do not blame you for any confusion.”
‘But, you were saying?’
“We exist separately from you mortals, but our nature as djinn excels when our two spheres work in tandem.” He gestures between the two of you. “Even before the events that led to us being chained down, if you will, we djinn worked best when we formed mutual companionship with humans. Without you… we are empty, and without meaning.” He gestures to the vase. “Trapped. And so, that djinn is trapped. Except in his case, not in a vase or a lamp.”
You stare again, but you now cannot help but feel even more curious. You do note that some time has passed, so, perhaps you could go and see about Shira and Ali - yet at the same time, you feel compelled to learn even more…
Written by Hollowpages on 20 December 2020
You take a moment to look past Akam, toward the direction you came from. You haven’t heard any gunshots, nor any screams or anything that would give you alarm. That, you feel, and the lack of reaction from Akam makes you think that there’s no reason to worry. Plus, Shira is there, and Akam himself said Shira would prevent any harm from happening to Ali.
With that in mind…
‘When you say he isn’t trapped in a vase or lamp…’ you start to ask.
Akam gives you a knowing look and nods. “He is not imprisoned anywhere. Rather, he is free, and very likely continues to roam the world to this day.”
You gawk at him. ‘He’s… he’s free?’
“Yes, Master,” Akam says. “But, remember what we’ve mentioned before about the notion of freedom. With his powers weakened due to the punishment laid upon our entire species, and with no physical attachment to siphon a portion of his power to, he is essentially forced to wander around aimlessly in a perennially weakened state of being. More than that, though, he is a special case… he cannot ‘die’ as it were. Ever.”
‘I didn’t think djinn could die,’ you remark.
Akam rubs the back of his neck. “Well, in layman’s terms, yes, we can. When a djinn dies, however, it is more along the lines of ceasing to exist, rather than passing away due to some kind of failing or loss internally. We don’t die from old age, or sickness, or from grave injuries; instead, a djinn will only die when they have lost their ability to retain a connection to the world around them.”
‘Like, through magic?’ you ask.
“Yes, in a way.”
You mull this over, since the thought of djinn death wasn’t one you expected to come into this conversation. Granted, this whole information spill is a lot for you to wrap your head around, but you feel you’re doing a relatively good job.
“It’s difficult for me to explain, as I am not ‘dead,’” Akam says. He snickers. “As I am able to comprehend it, it happens usually only to those who refuse to form connections with mortals. They grow steadily weaker and weaker as time passes on, until they essentially are unable to keep existing any longer. Then… poof.” He wiggles the fingers of both hands. “They fade into nothing.”
‘Just like that?’
“Just like that.”
You look to the vase, confused. ‘Does that mean the djinn there will…?’
“So long as he willingly stays in his container, he will exist,” Akam says.
You feel confused again. ‘Willingly?’
Akam rubs the back of his neck again, a sheepish expression forming. “I… admit that I may have been not entirely honest with you on one thing, Master. You see, we djinn, technically, CAN break free from our imposed little abodes. It’s just that doing so takes an immense amount of power, and, it would also destroy a fraction of our power. Yes, a djinn could gain freedom, yet they would end up weaker for the rest of their lifetime.”
All this information swirls around inside your head, and you breathe in quietly while you process it. The more you learn about djinn, the more it seems like there is so much going on that no normal person is aware of - you suppose it’s a good thing, too, because people would likely try to abuse this if they could.
You end up shrugging this off.
‘Basically, this djinn is alive, but might as well not be, is what I’m getting,’ you say. ‘He has little to no power he can use, and even if he could use it, no one would acknowledge he existed. I’m guessing normal people wouldn’t even see him, so only you and other genies could… you just wouldn’t.’
Akam beams. “That is likely the best way you could describe it in understandable human terms, Master. And yes! That is precisely it.” He gestures around. “It’s entirely possible that you have crossed paths with him at some point in your life, or that you may end up doing so in the future. You won’t know it, but, since he is forced to exist forever in a weak state… well, it’s inevitable such a thing will happen.”
You finally pick yourself up off the ground and shake your head. All this new, exciting information is still sinking in, but it’s fascinating for you to hear - you can’t help but be overwhelmed by how cool it all is. You were a fan of fantasy stuff before, and now, it’s only become an even bigger fondness thanks to your interactions with Akam and Shira, and the whole transformation thing, too.
‘I take it you weren’t fond of this genie,’ you say. ‘At least, that’s how it looks, since you don’t seem like you’re bothered by his fate. Then again, I guess since what he did sort of screwed all djinn over… I can’t blame you.’
Akam gives a shrug. “I did not have a strong connection with this particular djinn, but given his actions, I frankly feel no sympathy for him, nor much of anything to be blunt. We djinn are not the bastions of moral goodness, nor would you ever find us to be wholly ‘good’ the way humans tend to think. Yet even some of the trickiest, snarkiest, or most deceptive among us felt his actions were overtly cruel and needless. Most of us have standards.”
Your gaze flicks to the vase with the genie inside of it, the one that is apparently a remnant of a long-gone society. You wonder for a moment what would happen if someone found the vase and decided to bring it to a museum, since, to your knowledge, the vase needs to be rubbed a certain way in order for the djinn inside to be set free. Then again, you recall that you aren’t entirely aware of that part of the process. It may be different for a vase.
Before you can ask Akam about this, a noise in the distance catches your attention - because it’s a loud, booming noise, like a gun being shot.
A few birds scatter into the air, and you leap forward out from the bushes.
‘Oh no,’ you think.
“Don’t assume the worst,” Akam remarks, calmly as ever. “It may not be what you think, Master.” He offers you a smile. “But, do you want to investigate?”
You pause. Do you?
Written by Hollowpages on 23 December 2020
You don’t move for a moment, as your mind is still spinning. You aren’t sure how you want to proceed - you have never seen yourself as the type of person to go sprinting into a potentially bad situation, especially when there is an armed weapon involved. Yet, you also admit, you don’t know what else to do, since you’ve not heard or seen anything from Ali and Shira.
‘I know you say they’ll be fine,’ you remark, and you turn to Akam. ‘But, I dunno. I hear a gunshot in the distance, and my instant thought isn’t a positive one…’
Akam nods. “I understand, Master. And I don’t fault you for it. I can sense a great deal more than you, given my nature, so I can feel without even being present that Miss Ali is perfectly fine. Still, were I not here, I do know you would likely feel more inclined to worrying for the safety of your fellow human.”
Obviously, you don’t intend to go charging toward the way you just came, since you’d only end up running into the man with his gun (and make the entire purpose of Ali getting his attention moot). But, you do want to check. It leaves you feeling unsure of how to best proceed.
‘I want to investigate,’ you say. ‘I just want to do it smartly.’
With that, you start to trek toward the direction you came from, fast, but still mindful of your surroundings. The last thing you want is to come bustling through when the man has his gun cocked and loaded. Fortunately for you, you don’t need to go as far this time around, because your ears pick up the sound of swearing coming not far from where you are already.
You halt, then duck over in some nearby bushes. Moments later, the man stumbles into view, his gun still in hand. He’s red in the face and glowering.
“Damn stupid rabbit,” the man says. He kicks at the dirt, and grits his teeth, mumbling some words you don’t fully catch because he’s slurring them a little. You only pick up a bit toward the end of his rant. “…shouldn’t waste bullets on one thing. Buncha bullshit, comin’ here now anyways…”
He continues to mutter to himself while you watch on.
‘Looks like Ali avoided him,’ you think.
Judging by how he’s acting, you figure maybe the gunman was trying and failing to chase after Ali. But, you halt that line of thought and go back to watching as the man starts to slog his way past the spot you’re in - luck is on your side, at least, as the man doesn’t look toward where you are.
“Gonna bag me…” The man halts his words, hiccups, then groans.
‘What is with this guy?’ you wonder. ‘It’s like he came out of some adult cartoon where they had an episode about stereotypical hicks with guns.’
He keeps on moving like he’s about ten seconds away from falling flat on his face - yet the man doesn’t, and, you watch him gradually vanish into the distance. You wait until he’s genuinely well out of sight before you poke your head up, then trot out from the bushes, though you don’t look away from the direction the man went to be safe. You’ve seen enough movies to know that looking away too soon could potentially backfire on you.
Your ears perk when you hear movement from your other side. You glance that way, and seconds later, Ali comes running out of the bushes, still in rabbit form.
‘Oh, hey,’ Ali says. She hops over to you and stops. ‘What are you doing here so close to where we just were? Thought you’d be long gone by now.’
‘I heard the gunshot,’ you reply. ‘Was a bit worried, so I wanted to come and check things out. Just saw that guy stumbling away.’
Ali snickers internally. ‘He chased me for a few minutes, but I swear he had no clue I was a bunny. Once I jumped out of the bushes and he actually REALIZED it, he got pissed off and fired… literally way too far to the side. Like, the guy legit missed in the worst way possible.’
‘Akam mentioned Shira wouldn’t let you get hurt anyways,’ you say.
As if on cue, Shira appears from the air by flying down over to the two of you.
“That is VERY correct,” Shira says. She crosses her arms. “And don’t forget it. I would’ve most definitely jumped in if I felt the need to - but I could feel that lout wasn’t going to succeed in hitting anything but the air, given his state.”
‘I appreciate it, Shira,’ Ali says.
You feel relieved that everything seems fine, although were you in your human state, you probably would be calling the cops or something to let them know there’s some drunk man stumbling around in public with a gun. For now, you push that aside, and you start to consider going back to the vase since that was kind of the main focus until that man decided to show up unannounced.
‘Should we go and see the genie in the vase?’ you ask Ali.
Ali blinks a few times. ‘Oh, yeah. I’d like that. Just lemme change forms, ‘cause while I love bunnies, I can’t stand being one for long. Way too stinking small of a creature for my taste - limits everything but my speed.’
She transforms again, shifting back into a wolf’s body this time around. Watching a rabbit’s body double in size is a somewhat comical sight, especially because the initial process of seeing her go from wolf to rabbit was pretty humorous. Her tail juts out, her ears shrink down, and everything lengthens and extends for a good minute or so, before she’s a wolf again.
‘There,’ Ali says. She shakes her head around. ‘Much better.’
Once she’s finished her transformation, the two of you head right back where you just came from - you do admit internally that you probably could’ve just stayed where you were the whole time, since you running out to check on Ali didn’t amount to much of anything at all. But since she hasn’t brought that up, you shrug it off, because in the end, it isn’t a huge deal, you guess.
When you arrive at the area you stopped at, you find the vase is still there.
Akam, whom you hadn’t seen when you took off, is standing near it, looking relaxed like before. He smiles and nods to you, then to Ali and Shira as they come over to join.
“See, Master,” Akam says. “I told you it wasn’t something to be concerned over. It worked out perfectly fine in the end.”
‘You’re right, you’re right,’ you reply.
“The concern is touching, my dear,” Shira says. She smiles kindly at you. “At least you have a decent heart, unlike this one,” she points at Akam, “I bet you just stood around and waited for everyone to return, didn’t you, Akam?”
Akam gives an innocent shrug, but he doesn’t deny this fact.
‘Do you think that guy will come back?’ you wonder aloud. ‘Will he end up in this area where we area?’
“Doubtful,” Shira says. “But to be safe…”
She leaps into the air and flies up high, stopping well above you for a few minutes to stare in the direction the man went in. She drops back down afterwards and seems content.
“He’s far off in the distance now,” Shira says. “He won’t be an issue.”
‘That’s a relief,’ Ali says. ‘Less gun to deal with is always a good thing.’
‘Agreed,’ you say.
“Now then,” Akam says, and he gestures toward the vase. “The question becomes: would you two like to speak to our companion here? I’m sure Alajeem could use some company, given how long he’s probably been cooped up in his vase.”
“Eh, he can wait for another century,” Shira says, rolling her eyes. “But it depends on what you two want.”
You and Ali glance at one another. Do you still want to proceed?
Written by Hollowpages on 26 December 2020
‘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
‘May we have a moment to think?’ you ask.
Alajeem arches an eyebrow at you. “Awfully polite to ask me. I like that.” He nods. “I shall not eavesdrop on your conversation, though you likely know by now that you can converse without me hearing either way.”
At this, he turns away from you, and you and Ali move closer.
‘What do you think?’ you ask. ‘On the surface, as far as I can tell anyways, it doesn’t seem like a bad deal, in exchange for us learning more.’ You pause for a moment, then add. ‘But I would understand if you felt otherwise.’
‘I dunno, something feels off about it,’ Ali replies. ‘I mean, I love to learn more about this super intricate world I’ve become a part of thanks to Shira. And I’m not usually the sort to sweat over the details like this, but…’ She shakes her head. ‘I suppose it isn’t a terrible deal, all things considered. Shira? Akam?’
Your two genies have come closer to the two of you as well, and though they speak, they do so a little quieter. You get the sense that they’re doing SOMETHING to prevent Alajeem from hearing - magic, probably.
“Leaving his vase in the open, on its own, isn’t a problem,” Shira says. “Though you likely could ask us whatever you want and get the answers you seek - really, if the history of our kind is what you’re wanting to learn about, we are perfectly suitable resources.”
“I know more than you two do!” Alajeem says without turning around.
“Quiet, you!” Shira snaps. She glares at him.
Akam pats her shoulder. “Don’t engage him, dear friend. He cannot hear us when we use our power to be silent, remember that.”
“Yes, true,” Shira says with a sigh.
You feel unsure about this.
Yes, you did want to speak to this Alajeem because you were curious to see what he would be like - you imagine a genie as old as him may have more to say then Akam and Shira. At the same time, you don’t want to push your luck, and, the day is starting to get later. You could go either way on his request, but you want to make sure that it isn’t some sort of deceit.
‘Is he trying to trick us?’ you ask. ‘Is that why he wants to be in the open?’
Akam taps his chin. “It is difficult to say. We djinn, by nature, are not known for being brutally honest most times - and remember, we have our own views on things such as morals and the like, which makes it hard to answer you honestly. That said… I do not get the sense he has any sort of ill intentions, and most likely, he only wishes to be in the open to avoid being stuck underground.”
“Frankly, I would rather he stay locked far, far underground,” Shira says. “He can stare at the dirt for another millenia for all I care - I’d be pleased that way.”
‘You really don’t like him, do you, Shira?’ Ali asks. She sounds concerned.
“I do not expect him to leave his request at what he’s asked alone,” Shira replies. Her lips purse. “We djinn are not usually that simplistic when it comes to our requests. And I cannot in good faith assume Alajeem has turned over a ‘new leaf’ as you say, just because he’s been trapped for thousands of years.”
‘Can he DO anything?’ you ask. That really is the big question.
Akam shakes his head. “No. He cannot. I guarantee you that, on his own, unless he wishes to break his vase and be sapped of a good portion of his power… he will basically be as he was before we let him out. Stuck in place, waiting for a master to come along and free him of their free will.”
“Which is unlikely, but, that’s just how I see it,” Shira adds.
‘Guess that’s okay, then,’ you say.
“The choice ultimately comes to you two,” Akam says. “Alajeem knows much, that is no joke. And you are both wise, certainly enough to make your own decisions on how to proceed. But know, Master,” Akam looks you in the eye and smiles, “that I will stand by you and help when I can. I dare say I’m fond of you, enough to do my best to keep you from any ill effects.”
‘I appreciate that, Akam,’ you say.
Again, a moment of silence falls.
The way you see it, you have two options - you can accept Alajeem’s request and then see what he is willing to say, or, you can deny his request and instead let him go back into the vase. Alajeem doesn’t seem ‘evil’ in your eyes, but then, you don’t know enough to really have a solid opinion on him. And since you’ve been told by Akam that djinn don’t do the ‘good and evil’ spectrum the same way people do, that leaves you unsure what else is in store.
‘You know what?’ Ali says after a pause. She looks at you. ‘I say we take him up on his offer. He said he wants to be left above ground, right? He didn’t specify WHERE we have to leave him, now did he?’ She has a gleam in her eye as she grins. ‘So to be safe… we can always take that literally…’
Your eyes go wide, but you pick up on what she’s saying. ‘I like how you think.’
“Devious,” Shira says, and she grins, too. “I approve.”
Akam merely nods, looking quite content either way.
With this decided, you and Ali figure you can give Alajeem his answer…
‘Okay, Alajeem,’ Ali says. Her voice is clearer and louder now. ‘We’ve decided we’ll take you up on your offer. If you’re alright with explaining more of your world to us, then, we’ll gladly ensure you aren’t left underground anymore.’
Alajeem turns back to all of you and nods. “Splendid.” He appears quite content with the answer, but not in a smug or twisted way - he seems at ease entirely, and he smiles once more. “Now, you’re wondering about the term I used, was it? I assume you don’t know what the Araamakka is, then.”
You and Ali both nod.
“Then sit back and get comfortable, dear mortals,” Alajeem replies. “And I will gladly regale you with the insight you so clearly wish for yourselves…”
Written by Hollowpages on 20 January 2021
Alajeem smiles broadly, looking rather pleased with himself. He rubs his hands together, and after a moment - during which you and Ali both sit down on the grass to get comfortable - he clears his throat (rather dramatically).
“The Araamakka,” Alajeem says, “is what can best be described as OUR world’s name - you humans refer to the planet you live on as Earth, and some in ancient times called it Gaia. Well, Araamakka is, in essence, that for us. But, rather than a planet,” he swirls one finger around to make a circular shape with a wry smile, “our realm it is more of an endlessly stretching ocean of pure energy, if you will, where only some among us djinn are able to… live, I guess.”
You and Ali look at one another, both of you clearly confused and intrigued at the same time by all this - you suppose you shouldn’t be TOO surprised given the nature of magic and everything you’ve grown to be aware of, but, even so, the clarity is fascinating to you.
Shira and Akam don’t say anything, not yet, anyways. Shira sits beside Ali, her arms crossed and a slightly annoyed look on her face, whereas Akam is near you - he has a more neutral expression, as far as you can see, anyways.
“However, you notice I refer to it as THE Araamakka,” Alajeem adds. “This is intentional - for not only is it the realm where djinn exist, but, it is also the realm where we are ‘born,’ for lack of a better term. In other words… it is a living entity, much like how this planet is ‘living,’ too. The Araamakka is the proverbial womb of all djinn, and has been for ages upon ages, long before you humans were anywhere near the level of intellect you currently possess.”
‘Whoa,’ Ali says. ‘You weren’t kidding about what you said before, Shira.’
“Mm, no,” Shira replies.
‘But, wait,’ you say. ‘You said this Araamakka is, erm, basically your home domain, right?’
Alajeem is all smiles. “Correct.”
‘How come only some djinn can live there, then?’
“Ahhh… a wise question to propose,” Alajeem replies. “Many, many ages ago, we djinn could come and go between our realm of existence to yours. However, after all that happened…” He sighs and rolls a hand. “Suffice to say, the biggest punishment placed upon our entire species was limiting whom was allowed to do that. The rest of us were forced to be trapped in our little prisons.”
“Perhaps if you had not aided such a callous fool,” Shira says, “then such a fate wouldn’t have befell us.”
Alajeem shrugs, though his features grow somewhat morose. “There is little I could do at this point, Shira. Such actions were taken so very long ago, and to be rather blunt, I see no reason in dwelling on them anymore.”
‘What’s this place like?’ Ali asks. ‘And how exactly is it attached to our world?’
“To describe the Araamakka is… difficult,” Alajeem says. He comes across like he is genuinely trying to choose his words carefully. “We djinn are not entirely corporeal beings, the way you with flesh and bone are. As such, our sphere of existence is… similar. Not in the sense that a mortal being would fall through it, no, but, you would find it a very strange place to be, I would wager.”
Akam chuckles. “You clearly don’t know much about the mortals of this age, Alajeem. Many are far too curious for their own good.” He smiles at you briefly, before turning back to Alajeem. “But even so, they are not as dense as you feel. Mortals are very wise creatures - they possess a great deal of empathy and insight into such matters. You simply need to use the right terms to explain.”
Alajeem gives another shrug. “Imagine a massive ocean, then, as I said. Except, it is not an ocean of blue, nor of water. Rather, it’s more…”
He pauses to tap his chin - he does it with a dramatic flair, to the point where you aren’t sure if it’s intentional or if he’s actually trying to decide what to say.
“Akin to a sea of clouds,” he says after a pause. “Yes, yes! A sea of clouds!”
‘Huh,’ Ali says. She turns to Shira. ‘We wouldn’t fall through it, though?’
Shira shakes her head. “No, dear. You would float, I feel, is the best word to use. To you, it would be like those space movies and games you enjoy so much, except you would have oxygen. Or, your bodies would manage to ‘create’ oxygen, using the natural energies that comprise the Araamakka.”
Ali furrows her brow. ‘That is… jeez. I mean, I think I get it, but, it still sounds incredibly confusing. Really cool, sure, but, still a lot to wrap my head around.’
‘And it sounds really surreal, too,’ you add.
“I’m sure you could see the Araamakka for yourselves,” Alajeem says. “There’s no law or rule that prevents mortals from going there that I know of. Mind you, it’s been a long, LONG time since I was able to be there.” He grins again. “That said… In fact, despite my current predicament, I could easily open up a little portal to the Araamakka here and now, should you desire it…”
“Don’t try to do any of that trickery nonsense, Alajeem,” Akam says. He arches one eyebrow with an otherwise neutral look on his face. “You know full well that YOU lack the ability to open a way to go there. You lost that power ages ago when you were locked inside that vase.”
Alajeem merely shrugs once more. His features give nothing away.
You wonder what game he’s playing at, since it’s clear he’s trying for something - that said, you also wonder… you wonder what it is he did in ancient times that led to him being imprisoned in the vase, and, alongside that, you wonder if he feels any sort of remorse.
Your mind races, and you ponder if you want to ask him these things, or if you’d rather keep having him talk about djinn history. You could choose to change topics (you can tell he doesn’t seem the sort to care much), but, even so, you want to be mindful.
‘We can’t spend the entire day out here,’ you muse to yourself. ‘And, I kind of want to change to a new form sooner, too. Being a wolf has been fun and all, but, I’d like to turn into something else.’
Thus, you consider what you want to do next - ask him a question? Ask about his past? Or let Ali be the one to choose? There’s plenty of day left, you can tell from a cursory glance up to the sky. You’ve got time to kill, so, you can keep the conversation going, or you can switch gears and go off on your own…
You’ve got choices, ultimately. So what do you feel in the mood to do?
Written by Hollowpages on 02 February 2021
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
You ponder this for a moment, and while you have other things on your mind, you can’t help but want to ask a little more. Finding out this information from Alajeem makes sense to you - given the fact he has the most experience with all that’s happened in the djinn realm, after all.
‘Do you feel any regret, Alajeem?’ you ask, going back to your earlier question.
Alajeem’s lips twitch. He eyes you once more, his expression unreadable in that moment. It’s like he’s trying to figure out what it is you’re getting at, or maybe he wants to know WHY you’re asking the thing you’re asking him.
“Regret?” he says the word with an odd air to it, as if it’s an almost foreign term to utter. “For what, exactly, are you asking whether or not I feel regret toward? For the humans that were cursed to fade into obscurity? For my role in that, as small a role as that happened to be?” He smirks. “Or regret for how far a once-great djinn such as myself has fallen in this new era?”
You hold his gaze evenly. ‘All the above, I guess.’
Alajeem snorts. “I feel a great deal of regret for my current placement in existence, yes! And why wouldn’t I? Being trapped in a vase for ages has been nothing but an endless level of tedium and irritation for me, that is no joke.”
“You’re wasting your time if you think he’s learned anything,” Shira says. “You should know by now from what you’ve been told - we djinn don’t typically abide by the same moral principles you humans do.”
‘You feel strongly for Ali, though, don’t you?’ you ask.
Shira blinks several times, before she nods. “I do. I didn’t thousands of years ago, as I said before.” She looks at Ali with an expression of care and fondness evident in her eyes. “But, time and experience have indeed given me hindsight. They’ve taught me a great deal about feelings and emotions… about understanding mortal mentalities in ways I doubt I would’ve ever dreamt of had you met me a thousand years ago. And I’m truly happy for it all.”
Ali merely looks at Shira with an expression of tenderness.
You soak her words in, then turn to Akam. ‘Do you feel that you’ve grown to have a stronger emotional understanding, Akam?’
“I would say so, yes,” Akam replies, and he sounds and looks genuinely sincere. “It’s possible for us to learn and grow attached to that which makes you humans human.” He glances toward Alajeem with a little grin. “Perhaps rare, sure, particularly for the oldest among us. But, it’s still very possible.”
Alajeem falls silent here, rather than responding straight away. He seems to be lost in thought - and you wonder if he’s considering his true feelings on the subject, or if maybe he’s just pretending. It’s hard for you to tell.
‘I could be assuming all the wrong things about him,’ you muse to yourself.
But still… You can’t imagine what it’s been like, to live for thousands of years while being trapped in a container - one that you can see and hear outside of, but never leave without becoming weaker as a cost. You feel… well, despite everything, you feel a twinge of sympathy for the djinn. But, you don’t want to voice that, lest it give him ideas or create the wrong idea.
“I don’t know that I feel regret as you would define the term,” Alajeem admits after a moment. “It’s difficult for me to lend my thoughts to… ‘caring’ about the fates of mortals, particularly those that died so very long ago.”
He shrugs as he glances from you to Ali. “I would say, and this is as honest as I can be, mortal - but, knowing what I do now, I admit to you that I wouldn’t take the same steps I did in ancient times. It’s not an easy feat for me to extend any form of consideration toward beings like you, who live fleeting lives compared to us djinn. But, would I rather be free to do what I wish? Of course.”
You nod along to this. ‘Fair enough. Thank you.’
He frowns, but offers nothing else.
‘How long are you able to be out of your vase like this?’ Ali asks.
Alajeem grunts. “Not for much longer. I can only manifest freely for bursts at a time, and since I’ve been prattling on for so long, it’s nearly run its course.” He looks down at the vase with a defeated sigh. “I suppose this has been a rather pleasant time for me, brief though it may have been. Being out in the fresh air… though I am still not entirely FOND of this mortal realm, I must admit that I do appreciate it after being stuck in my prison for so long.”
“Perhaps some day, you will find a Master as kind as mine,” Akam says. “Or as Ali.” He offers Alajeem a smile. “You would need to learn much about dealing with humans, though - trickery and deceit, and finding loopholes to be cruel for the sake of your own enjoyment… such things offer little reward in the end.”
“Speaking from experience, Akam?” the other djinn asks.
Akam simply chuckles.
“Well, back I go for now,” Alajeem says. “Whatever you lot decides on doing…” He sighs with an obvious air of recognizing how he has no choice in anything. “I would appreciate not being returned underground… at the least.”
He nods, then, without another word, his body turns into a thick plume of smoke that appears to be sucked back into the vase. And then, that’s it - Alajeem is gone. It’s surprisingly more low-key then you expected, yet the area falls silent, and you decide to shrug it off, for the moment, anyways.
‘Well then,’ Ali says. ‘That was… interesting.’ She stands up on all fours. ‘He wasn’t as bad as I thought he’d be, for the time he was around.’
“Thankfully,” Shira says. “Had he stuck around longer, I doubt he would’ve been able to resist trying to deceive us even more.” She scowls at the vase. “And he can’t deny it now, although we all know he WOULD attempt to.”
“The question now becomes what to do with him,” Akam remarks. His expression is one of interest. “Do we leave him in the open for someone to randomly stumble across? Do we stick him in a tree, perhaps, and allow for the birds to use the vase for a nest? Do we go back on our promise and bury him again? There are countless choices, and each one has a repercussion…”
‘Good question,’ you say. You aren’t entirely sure what to do with the vase.
There are quite a few options to the question, you feel - and for once, it’s nice that you don’t have to be the one that decides the final verdict.
You do like the idea of maybe offering a suggestion or two, however, it’s simply a matter of what route to take. You could very well take the vase to the city and leave it around for someone to find - but then, DO you want to? You worry that it could be a bad idea, even if Alajeem seems ‘decent’ from your one meeting.
So, what do you want to suggest?
Do you leave him in the open? Do you store him away somewhere in nature or in a building? Do you let one of the others make the choice and go along with it? Ali looks like she’s pondering it over, and so do both of the genies, too.
You start to think it over…
Written by Hollowpages on 08 February 2021
The more you consider your options - and you also listen to see what options those around you suggest - the more you find yourself leaning toward a decision that, at least for you, feels right. Alajeem may or may not be the most morally ‘sound’ being you’ve ever met, of course, but even so, a deal is a deal.
And you’re not the sort that likes the notion of going back on promises.
You sigh. ‘I think it would be best we do what we promised, Ali. Let’s keep him above ground. Although, I don’t know about you, but, I don’t think a forest is the best spot for an ancient genie living in an ancient vase from a lost society.’
‘Yeah, good point,’ Ali says. ‘If someone stumbles onto it, and the right eyes see that vase, it would end up leading to people researching it. You’d get historians or anthropologists, which means more media attention… and…’
She trails off, but she doesn’t have to finish - you can tell that her concern becomes centered on Alajeem, because if multiple people discover the existence of genies, that opens a whole new can of chaos to ponder over. You don’t have the mentality for thinking or worrying about that much. No thanks.
“Fine, fine,” Shira says. “I guess even I would be remiss if I didn’t want to stick to the promise. I didn’t make it myself,” she smirks briefly at this, “but if you two feel it best, then, so be it. I do agree that leaving him out here is a bad idea. A djinn like him falling into the ‘wrong hands,’ as you mortals say, is not a thought I wish to dwell on.” She folds her arms. “But then where do we put him?”
You look to Akam. ‘What about where I found you? That… side realm?’
Akam’s eyes light up. “Ah… now that is a wise idea, Master. It would allow for a more controlled way of someone discovering Alajeem if we do that.”
“But do we WANT someone to discover him?” Shira asks.
“Don’t worry, Shira,” Akam says. “My Master and I can ensure that’s taken care of. There are plenty of ways for us to store Alajeem, I guarantee that much.”
Shira frowns at this, but, she doesn’t complain. “Very well.”
You nod, feeling good about the idea, and then look to Ali. ‘Do you mind if I take care of Alajeem’s vase? I don’t want to steal it if you wanted to.’
Ali shakes her head. ‘I don’t mind. I can tag along, only if you want.’
‘I’m fine with either or,’ you reply.
She takes a moment to ponder this, then sighs. ‘It’s getting a bit late. I’m sort of done with being in an animal body for the day - plenty of excitement already.’
‘Then I guess that’s a day for us, huh?’ you ask.
‘Yup, guess so,’ Ali replies. She smiles at you, her eyes friendly. ‘You know, I’ve never been all that great with strangers… but you’re alright.’ She winks, then giggles internally. ‘No, but, for real. It’s been fun having another person that can transform to hang out with. I look forward to doing it again sometime.’
‘So do I,’ you reply. ‘I’d say we should exchange numbers, but, uh.’
‘Hard to do when we’re both wolves,’ Ali agrees with a snicker.
“We’ll handle that,” Shira says, gesturing between herself and Akam. “Now that we’ve crossed paths, I’d enjoy catching up more with this old lout.” She smirks at Akam, who merely rolls his eyes at her in response. “We can communicate with one another without any trouble, and without any wishes needed.”
Akam nods. “This is true.”
‘Cool beans,’ Ali says.
Shira snickers before she flies down to where you are. “Perhaps we can speak more as well, next time.” Her features soften into a tender, approving smile. “I appreciate that you’ve been a kind human, dear. It’s always refreshing to be reminded that, for all the flaws mortals have, there are plenty good at heart.”
You feel your face grow warm, as if you were blushing. ‘Oh, well, thank you. I don’t know.’ You shrug your furry shoulders. ‘I do the best I can, I guess.’
“That’s a good mindset to have,” Shira says. There’s a pause from her, then she looks from you to Akam. “You should consider tweaking the wish, Akam. Let your master have a freer reign of their abilities… I’d say they’ve more than earned the right with how they’ve proven themselves, wouldn’t you?”
You blink a few times, while Akam regards her thoughtfully.
“At any rate,” Shira says, and she flies back to Ali. “Shall we, love?’
Ali nods. ‘It was nice meeting you both.’
‘Same,’ you say. ‘See you around.’
With that, Ali turns on her heel and dashes off with Shira in tow. You watch them disappear into the forest, until you can no longer see either of them.
Once they’re gone, you turn your attention to Akam. The djinn is hovering near the vase, with both his arms and his legs crossed as he floats, and a thoughtful expression remaining on his face. He seems to be mulling over something, and you wait - you don’t want to intrude on whatever it is he’s considering.
“I wonder,” Akam says eventually.
‘Wonder what, Akam?’ you ask.
“I wonder how it is that Ali was able to word her wish,” he replies. He strokes his chin, a grin tugging at the corner of his lips. “Part of me feels that, regardless of what phrasing she used, that Shira didn’t instantly give her the ability to freely change between several creatures. Knowing Shira as I do, she would’ve likely tweaked the wish to make things for fun for herself…”
You blink. ‘Do you think… she was lying when she said that, or…?’
“Not lying exactly,” he says, and he then floats over to you. “I think Shira eventually decided to gift her charge with the freedom you saw. It’s not unheard of for a djinn to do so, should they bond closely with their master.”
‘Like how you’ve given me some side abilities,’ you reply.
He nods. “I feel that she’s not wrong about you. You’ve shown to be a genuine person, Master - and I mean that sincerely. You’ve not abused the wishes, you’ve been thoughtful and considerate of me, and you’ve expressed a great deal of care for others, too. As such, I think you have more than earned the right for me to expand on your first wish - and so, I will make you an offer.”
You are a little caught off guard by this, but, you are excited to hear nonetheless - you hadn’t thought about it beyond your initial surprise (and maybe a little envy, too) toward Ali since she was less limited.
“I will remove the two benefits I gave you,” Akam says. “However, in exchange, I will gift you the ability to change your form freely - there will no longer be a time limit for you to assume an animal’s form, although there are still rules you would need to abide by. That’s proper, after all.” He winks. “Regardless, you would be able to assume five forms over the course of twenty-four hours.”
‘Does that include my human form?’ you ask.
“For fairness’ sake, yes,” Akam says. “That still grants you the ability to switch between four creatures, something I feel is more than deserved, don’t you?” He smiles. “What do you say, Master? Do you accept my offer?”
He pauses and eyes you, waiting. Now you get to decide: do you accept?
Written by Hollowpages on 12 February 2021
Making Changes II
The ability to freely change forms the way Ali does… you can’t lie and say it doesn’t sound enticing. Being forced to deal with a time limit hinders what you feel could be a lot of fun, given how you did accept this wish’s parameters in the first place. So, you do feel strongly that accepting would be wisest.
‘Alright, Akam,’ you say after giving it some thought. ‘That’s a really generous offer, so, I accept - and thank you. I didn’t want to demand you let me have the same ability Ali does, so I appreciate that you’re open to doing it unprompted.’
Akam chuckles. “Ah, Master, you are a good mortal.” He smiles wide. “Don’t tell anyone this, on the off chance we meet other djinn and their masters, but… it’s not uncommon for a djinn to tweak the wish they’ve granted. Now, whether that tweaking is positive or negative depends on the djinn and the master, and on the wish, I suppose. Be that as it may: it is decided.”
He brings his hands together, and red sparks begin to surround them. His hands end up glowing with red, and, without a word, he releases a small flashing orb of red light that instantly envelops you. Your vision goes white with flickers of red as warmth fills your insides. You clamp your eyes shut, a sensation of electricity shooting all through your body for a few seconds.
When the sensation subsides, you blink a few times, your vision adjusting.
“There,” Akam says. He is smiling proudly. “You no longer have a time limit that keeps you in one form for a set period. Now, you may switch between five forms every twenty-four hours, including your human form. Since you’ve been a human and a falcon already this day, along with your current wolf state, that means you may switch between those three for the remainder of this day. And, you have two additional spots, should you want to tap into those.”
‘Thank you,’ you reply.
You feel giddy at this, and, since you’ve spent so much of the day in a wolf’s body, you decide you want to go back to being a falcon. Thus, you close your eyes and begin to visualize yourself in the winged body you were in earlier.
At once, you can feel your body begin to change.
Your body starts to gradually shrink in size, although most of it is the front portion of your lupine physique shrinking down - your hind legs and forelegs also shrink down with your body, but your forelegs change the most. Your claws vanish from your forelegs, and you feel your paws merge into a single stub, but already, you feel the fur beginning to mold itself into feathers.
Your bones bend and crack. You hear them breaking and snapping as they change structures - but there is no pain, just like before. No pain, no discomfort, only the sounds that you don’t even feel a need to flinch at echoing around.
Your hind legs become smaller, yes, but the paws separate into talons, the claws extending out to grasp onto the ground and hold your weight as the rest of your body bends into its new placement. Your former front legs sprout an array of feathers as they reposition themselves at your sides, and in no time, your chest and belly and back have shrunk, becoming much smaller, too.
Your upper body is the last to change, you feel.
Your snout hardens, your nostrils growing slender and with that, your sense of smell weakens, too. Your ears are absorbed into the side of your head, and thus, your hearing also weakens to a degree, too. But you feel your eyes staying much the same, with only a tingling rush to tell you that your vision is now much clearer than before. You confirm this when you reopen your eyes.
The world looks bigger when the transformation is complete. You are a falcon again, smaller and less imposing, but, blessed with wings once more.
You test your wings by flapping them a few times while staying grounded. You haven’t lost the sensation of flying, thankfully, and you just know you can take off without any trouble. You smile internally at this knowledge, then, look to Akam. The genie hasn’t budged, although he DOES appear bigger now.
“Splendid,” Akam says. “Now that you’ve returned to the shape of a falcon, I presume you intend to fly to where we once were, yes?”
You nod, only to pause. ‘How do I find that spot, though?’
Akam smiles. “Do you recall what I said to you when you first became a falcon? When I mentioned how you were able to leave that domain if you willed it, because it was based heavily on what you desired most in that moment?”
You wrack your brain, and, you do recall that. ‘So does that mean if I want to go there, I simply need to think I want to? And a path will open up for me?’
‘I see… okay.’ You glance over to the vase, which hasn’t budged from where it rests. You then return your gaze to Akam. ‘Would you rather I carry the vase? I don’t want to keep demanding things of you, Akam. You’ve done a lot for me as it is, since, well, I’ve only used two of the three wishes this whole time…’
“Oh, I don’t mind, truth be told,” Akam says, and he shrugs. “To be honest with you, Master, I’ve enjoyed myself so much this day, I don’t care if you decide to withhold your third wish for a while. Now, if I disliked your demeanor, then, it would be different.” He waves a hand off. “But that isn’t the case, so there’s no need to be concerned over bothering me, or boring me, for that matter.”
He zips over to the vase and picks it up with a grin. “I shall carry Alajeem, since it’s no issue for me. He’s not that heavy, after all. You may lead the way, and, when we arrive, you can be the one to choose where we put this old fool.”
You nod. ‘Alright. Thank you.’
You shift your focus to your wings, and give them another brisk flap. You mostly do that to test the wind direction, and, when you are satisfied with how the air feels around you, you launch yourself upward. Your body jolts up, and with ease, you take flight, flapping your wings to pick up speed.
It takes hardly any time for you to become airborne. And you abruptly feel at awe - you nearly forgot how fantastic it is to be able to fly like this.
You begin to soar through the air, above the trees beneath you. Akam is behind you, flying with the vase in hand - he looks at ease, and you get the sense he doesn’t mind you taking your time. There’s no rush in going back to that strange area with the shop where you first stumbled onto the lamp.
‘This is amazing,’ you think to yourself.
You fly around for a while, your gaze flicking down to the trees, to the path you and Ali took earlier, and to the lake you both dived into, too. Everything looks crystal clear and beautiful, even with the sun slowly beginning to set.
You soak the atmosphere in for a long few moments of steady silence.
The wind brushing against your body, the lightness of being able to glide through the currents, the lasting beauty of the landscape, the serene peace…
You soak it all in, and you sigh internally. But then, you decide, you can always do this another time - you made a promise to the old djinn, so you focus on wanting to return to that area in the woods. You concentrate on it, until you feel a strange tugging sensation in your stomach. You turn your neck to the direction the tug is coming from, and you can see something underneath you.
You turn your body and drop down, enough that you see a strange path that wasn’t there before - it’s nestled among the trees, big enough for you to fly through. You flutter in place, and glance toward Akam, who nods to you.
With that, you move toward that opening, and when you fly through it, you find yourself in a familiar location: the area with the strange shop is to your left.
Written by Hollowpages on 15 February 2021