There's something wrong with my computer and it won't let me do superscripts xD ah well…next chapter then!
Disclaimer: I am not the author of the Bartimaeus Trilogy, Jonathan Stroud is….what else do you put in disclaimers?
I felt that familiar tugging ripping me away from the Other Place. Ah me...so someone had uncovered my name yet again. I decided to appear as Cerberus, the three headed dog from Greek mythology (1). Unfortunately, I miscalculated the size of the room (2) so at the last minute, I had to change sizes and after a moment's confusion, one of Cerberus' huge paws filled the pentacle. To improvise, I added seven eyes, each a color of the rainbow, in a pattern of a "C" on the paw. Now it looked like I meant to take that form (3).
I surveyed the room that I had been summoned into and my new master. He was a balding Asian man with large horn-rimmed glasses and a white goatee. He didn't look very intimidating, and his eyes seemed out of focus as he turned the pages of a book he was holding. Judging from the view, it seemed that we were in an apartment building, though I couldn't tell what city or country I was in. My master began muttering again, and judging from the pentacle next to mine, he was summoning another djinn. The effect was instantaneous: a patch of what looked like oil appeared in the air, and the blob shifted around for a bit, and suddenly became a walrus, dropping down to the floor with a plop! (4).
My new master now turned to us, not seeming at all perturbed by a giant paw and a walrus. Instead, he turned to us to issue his commands (5)
"The djinn Bartimaeus and Katherine Jones—"
I stopped listening, and by looks of the walrus, so did the other djinn. Katherine Jones? Kitty Jones? Perhaps I heard wrong—I knew I should have added ears to the paw. I turned into a jackrabbit with particularly large ears, and raised a paw. The magician sighed and stopped reciting his commands.
"What is it, Bartimaeus?"
"I didn't have ears, could you repeat that? And did you say Katherine Jones?"
"Of course I did. That's her name, is it not?" the magician said with a careless wave of his hands, "I'm well aware of the fact that the two of you were acquainted when Miss Jones was still a human. In fact, that is why the two of you have been summoned."
I turned to the walrus (6). "You're a djinn?"
The walrus spoke—there was no mistaking that voice, it was Kitty's alright—
"Apparently…though I'm not very sure why or how it happened, and I don't know—"
"Enough. The two of you can chit chat on your way to England. Bartimaeus and Katherine Jones, I charge you two to go to England to retrieve the Key to the Nether Place from the house of the magician Fitzgibbon Hooms (7). You are then to go report back to me. After that, you are to go to the Nether Place and bring back the spirit of Nathaniel Warner, formerly known as the magician John Mandrake. Then you shall report back to me once more. Go now!"
I went instantly, out the open window in the form of a raven while poor Kitty was hurtled out the window from the force of the dismissal, still in the form of a walrus. I dived down until I was level with the falling walrus.
"Change into a bird, Kitty!"
"How? I don't know how!"
"Concentrate on a bird and imagine yourself being one (8)."
The walrus flopped around for a few seconds, and then changed into a sparrow. The sparrow then flew feebly to a nearby ledge and flopped itself down. The raven (9) followed it, performing several flips and spins in midair before landing gracefully next to the sparrow.
"You don't have to show off, you know?" chirped Kitty the djinn sparrow. Kitty then stood up and turned to me. "Bartimaeus, why am I a djinn?"
I preened my feathers. "You might not want to be a sparrow, Kitty. Apparently, we're in China and people eat sparrows sometimes."
She obediently changed into a pigeon. "Better?"
"Nope. Pigeons are considered a delicacy. Why don't you try changing into a raven, like me?"
The pigeon glared at me and then turned into a raven. "Ok, Bartimaeus, will you answer my question now?"
(1) Actually Cerberus is no myth. He was created by one of my old masters: think alchemy gone wrong. Remind me to tell you about it some time.
(2) By three decimal points.
(3) Shush. My ego is still smaller than that of magicians.
(4) Judging by that first appearance as an oily hue, it was probably the first time the djinn was summoned. Of course, being Bartimaeus, Sakhr al-Jinni, N'gorso the Mighty, Serpent of Silver Plumes, builder of the walls of Uruk, Karnak , and Prague, I have never have been so unskilled as to appear in that form. Even during my first summoning.
(5) I was hoping that I would be able to build some more of the Great Wall of China…you know, add another wall to my list.
(6) I have to say, Kitty was more attractive as a human female…though I guess it depends on your perspective. If you were a male walrus…
(7) I snorted, I couldn't help it.
(8) Well, not exactly, but I thought I'd dumb it down since Kitty was new at this. Also, when you're hurtling to the ground from a twenty story building, there's really no time for lectures.
(9)Me…in case you forgot. Humans have really short attention spans.