I am truly sorry about the delay, but I did say I wasn't sure how often updates would be. I hope this makes up for the wait.
Here's a question: Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you actually ticked off Genie? Not just annoy or frustrated (like when dealing with imps or when Abis Mal stole his lamp), but make him truly angry? He's an easy going guy, but everyone has their limits and buttons you don't want to press. And leave it to another genie (only an evil and cruel one) to find them. It only lasts a short time however. But it does make him stop joking around. That's not normal!
Fortunately or unfortunately, the short exposure to an angry Genie is quickly replaced by suffering. Djinn is going to point out something important (and kind of heart-breaking) that I realized a long time ago.
Oh, and Iago's moment of reluctant heroics arrives. It isn't much, but he does provide a nice moment of distraction.
Finally, in case you're wondering why Genie seems to be able to hold his own (more or less) so far, it's because Djinn hasn't attacked at full strength.
Enjoy the chapter.
Out of the various opponents he had faced in his lifetime, Cassim had to admit an army of these undead things had to be the strangest. He was still furious at himself for being used so easily and these creatures offered an opportunity to redeem himself. Sword in hand, the former King of Thieves prepared to charge into battle against these unorthodox opponents.
His son, on the other hand, didn't seem at all surprised by them. With a confident half-grin, the young man ran directly toward the closest greenish-skinned creature. Right before he reached the undead thing, Iago (who'd left Cassim's shoulder without the older man noticing) grabbed Abu off of Aladdin's shoulder and lifted the monkey out of reach.
"Mamluks. Why'd it have to be Mamluks?" the parrot muttered as Aladdin grabbed the thing's sword and ripped it free. The arm, not just the sword, came loose. The young man then tossed away the Mamluk's arm and proceeded to swing the sword at the shuffling being. The bird continued, "I hate them. They're so disgusting. At least they come apart easily."
Cassim, deciding his son's past must have been very eventful if he barely reacted to the presence of animated corpses, reached his closest enemy and brought his blade into play. This particular Mamluk blocked his first strike with his own sword and parried his second blow. His third swing distracted the undead creature enough for the former King of Thieves to actually punch his face. He didn't expect, however, for the Mamluk's head to be knocked off by the force. Even more discomforting was for the headless body to continue to fight, swinging his sword blindly as the disembodied head moaned from the ground.
Narrowing his eyes stubbornly, he swung his own sword and struck the Mamluk's arm. Before the undead could react to the loss of his limb, the man detached the other arm. With a firm kick, Cassim knocked the torso down. Before he could recover from that enemy's attack, a new Mamluk took his place and attacked the former King of Thieves.
Carpet, racing through and around the army of the undead, used his flexible form and extreme maneuverability to his best advantage. Cassim's new opponent discovered the magical rug's potential when he whipped around and hit the Mamluk with enough force to knock the undead flying across the sand in pieces. Cassim nodded his head, offering his thanks to the sentient piece of fabric. Carpet waved a tassel before whipping around to his another Mamluk.
The older man brought his sword down on the next undead being. Iago had been right on the frailty of the opponents, but they were numerous. Even if the creatures broke with a slight amount of effort, they could still overwhelm the small group currently fighting. They had to stay focused on the Mamluks.
Thus, he was forced to ignore whatever strange and impossible magic the pair of genies might employ above them. Whatever threats or promises of violence the orangish-yellow being might snarl, whatever odd jokes Genie might make even against the deadly foe, and whatever else that they might say would have to fall on deaf ears. Cassim could tell that particular battle exceeded his ability to affect. His blade could not slay the monstrous Djinn, but it could harm the army of Mamluks. He decided to remain focused only on events he could affect.
A glance across the battlefield demonstrated that Aladdin, dismembering the undead creatures with practiced ease, was not following his father's example. His eyes kept glancing towards Genie, his expression one of grim determination. The young man wanted to find a way to help his friend more directly and was actively searching for a possibility while he fought. The mirror his magical companion had provided remained firmly in the hand not holding his sword, ready in case Djinn fired some kind of attack he could reflect back. Aladdin was not one to consider an enemy too powerful to defeat, it seemed. All Cassim could hope was that his son was correct and the orangish-yellow being would be stopped.
With a particularly cruel grin, Djinn created a large missile launcher and balanced in on his shoulder. He took aim towards the annoying blue entity. For some reason, the magical being was smirking slightly at the aggressive individual holding a weapon, but the orangish-yellow genie didn't care.
"You know, using something with that much firepower requires a lot of paperwork," remarked Genie, pointing towards his opponent.
Before he could respond to the statement, a load of white forms, each one requesting duplicates and triplicate copies to be filled out, materialized above him and came crashing down hard. A couple loose sheets of paper drifted down slower and landed delicately on the pile. The blue entity smiled slightly.
"No one ever expects the stopping power of bureaucracy," he shrugged.
The heavy amount of paperwork spontaneously combusted, sending ash and smoke into the air. Springing out of the inferno, Djinn snarled at his annoying opponent. The pathetic fool couldn't possibly defeat him and yet he still insisted on continuing to resist with his collection of cheap gimmicks and weak jokes. The best Genie could hope for would be to contain him and even that was impossible now that Djinn was prepared. And his patience with the blue being's attempts was beginning to wear thin. The malevolent magical being began to consider that he should stop toying with Genie and begin to do some real damage.
Gathering the flames into his hands, Djinn formed a large fireball that he raised above his head. The orangish-yellow being hurled the sphere of heat and light at his opponent. Genie, creating a tennis racket in his hand, hit the fireball and sent it back towards his fellow magical entity. He wasn't prepared, however, for the second flaming orb Djinn had sent immediately after the first and ended up being knocked flying by the impact.
When the annoying blue entity didn't immediately pop back up after the impact, Djinn decided to see what was delaying his opponent. He hadn't hit Genie hard enough to destroy him yet since he hadn't finished tormenting him. If the sentimental fool took too long to recover, Djinn would have to simply torture and kill the fragile mortals. It would be a nice diversion and would help prove that Genie's emotional ties and pathetic ideals were weaknesses and he was wrong about everything he believed.
Abruptly, the blue being sprang up and tried to slam a giant glass jar over Djinn. Snarling to himself about the foolishness of being caught off guard by the annoying cheerful individual, the orangish-yellow genie spun around and formed a giant tornado. The large sand devil struck the descending jar and deflected it away. Genie was caught up in the swirling wind storm, spun around several times, and finally spat out of the sand with his eyes still spinning dizzily.
Before he could recover properly, the blue magical being was snatched up by a glaring Djinn. During his time as a cyclone, the yellow-eyed entity had increased his size again and could easily dangle Genie by his wrist using one hand.
"Why would you make such a foolish attempt to capture me again when it is obvious that you are no match for me?" shouted Djinn, shaking the individual in rage. "Do you honestly think you can defeat me with a grape jelly jar?"
Shrugging slightly in the aggressive being's grip, Genie corrected, "It was a strawberry jelly jar. No one can win with grape."
A casual observer would think that the blue genie's joking response would be evidence that he was perfectly in control of the situation and was as ready to continue the magical duel as the orangish-yellow one. Djinn, however, could see the signs of his opponent growing tired and worried. Seeing an army of the dead raised by a genie unnerved the blue entity and his strength wasn't boundless. Djinn's capabilities were testing Genie's limits and he would lose. In fact, if the orangish-yellow being wanted to, he could simply end…
"Why, Djinn? Why did you do it?" a young, female voice asked suddenly from behind him.
The familiarity of the child-like voice made him pause for a moment. Djinn recognized it, but refused to believe that the voice's owner still lived. He knew she was dead. After all, he killed the young girl himself. He glanced back, but saw no one.
"What trickery is this?" he growled. "Voices of the deceased aren't your style, Genie."
"Don't look at me. I never perfected my ventriloquist act anyway," answered the blue being, equally confused. "Is it someone you know?"
The disembodied voice, once again behind him, asked, "Why? This isn't like the story. Why did you do all of this, Djinn?"
"Silence," he snapped. "Nada is dead. She is not speaking to me. This trick is a waste of time."
"I freed you. You needed my help," the voice continued, gaining a sharper and accusatory edge. "And you betrayed me. Why, Djinn? I wasn't a threat and I helped you."
The orangish-yellow genie was growing frustrated with the unknown speaker. He refused to believe that it was his dead former master. But it sounded exactly like her and the blue magical being still in his grip had never heard the child's voice. Whoever was impersonating her was trying their best to either induce guilt for his actions (a result that would likely never occur since she was just another pathetic mortal) or to simply anger him by reminding Djinn that he was forced to have a young girl "save" him from eternal enslavement.
"You will be silent," he snarled, spinning around suddenly.
This time, the magical entity caught sight of a flash of red diving out of view. Djinn kept turning until he could see a red parrot carrying a nervous-looking monkey. Briefly, he wondered at the presence of the animals, but a memory caught his attention. When he was freed from his necklace and chose the mortal Cassim as his tool, a brightly-colored bird had circled the area. At the time, he simply dismissed the creature as unimportant and just another lowly animal. Now, he could see the sparkle of intelligence in the bird and monkey's eyes. They were both self-aware beings. Nada did name the bird when describing the storyteller. Parrots were also known for their mimicry. The pieces fell into place and the orangish-yellow genie grinned cruelly at the crimson-feathered bird.
"Iago, I presume?" he remarked, watching the bird shudder slightly and the monkey gained an even more panicked expression. "I don't appreciate your joke. Tell me, have you ever had a genie angry with you before?"
Chuckling nervously, the parrot answered, "Actually, yeah, I have. Didn't like it then, and I don't think I'll enjoy it now either. I think I've finally gone a crazy as the rest of them too."
Djinn prepared to fry the worthless bird to a blackened crisp, but realized he forgot something important during Iago's distraction. The blue entity was no longer in his grip. Before he could react to his opponent's disappearance, Genie created a giant cube of ice around the orangish-yellow being.
"Nice job, Iago," grinned Genie slightly, enjoy a brief moment while Djinn was trapped in the ice. "Didn't know you had it in you."
"Don't expect any more acts of stupidity from me in the future," the crimson parrot commented, diving down to the rest of the group.
The blue genie nodded seriously, "Probably for the best. I think you've annoyed him enough." He glanced over at the Mamluks still fighting his friends and added, "And speaking of annoyance…"
Genie transformed himself into a giant boom box. The music that emerged from the speakers caused the undead creatures to freeze in mid-attack. With stiff movements, they began to shuffle in a coordinated and strange dance. Aladdin, Cassim, and the others watched the greenish-skinned creatures simply dance across the sandy landscape and out of sight.
"No one can resist the Thriller," explained Genie, changing back.
Completely out of patience with the blue being, Djinn shattered the thick coating of ice. Large chunks of the frozen substance was flung away from the furious entity, several stray pieces striking Genie with impressive force and other icy shrapnel barely missing the pair of humans. One particularly heavy chunk managed to hit and trap the flying rug, but Djinn barely noticed. He was finished playing around.
Briefly, he wondered why some wizards seem to prefer using undead minions. The ones he'd raised to handle Aladdin and Cassim had proven to be useless, even without their magical companion's later assistance. There seemed to be truth in the belief that if you want something done right, you must do it yourself. If he wanted to utterly break that blind, naïve Genie's spirit before his destruction, he would have to take direct action on his own.
Not waiting for the blue being to recover from the impact of the explosion of ice chunks, Djinn grabbed onto the young man who was trying to pull the magic carpet free. His swift motion caused a series of concerned shouts from Cassim, the parrot, and even the monkey. Aladdin's reaction to being snatched was a more angry and frustrated yell at the orangish-yellow being, but Djinn ignored the noise. This young man was the traitorously soft-hearted fool's former master and if he simply extinguished the mortal's life, a task far too easy to accomplish…
A surprisingly strong force impacted the giant genie's head, knocking him away while something ripped the fragile human from his hand. Djinn, shaking his head to clear it, glared back in the direction of the unexpected attack. Genie, his left hand transformed into a large mallet and his right hand holding onto Aladdin protectively, was glaring back. For the first time that he had ever seen, the blue magical entity looked absolutely and completely furious.
"Thanks, Genie," the young man sighed as his companion set him back down on the ground.
Aladdin didn't receive a response. Without a joke or a magical trick, Genie swung his transformed hand at Djinn again. This time, the orangish-yellow being easily ducked beneath the mallet. Changing his other hand into another large hammer, Genie tried to hit him in the chest. The more powerful genie smirked and blocked the attack by creating a large shield in front of him.
"What's the matter, Genie? Where's your sense of humor now?" asked Djinn cruelly. "Did I strike a nerve when I touched your precious little mortal? Did I remind you how easy it would be to lose your pet humans?"
He didn't answer, but his determined glare intensified. The orangish-yellow entity could see he was getting past the blue being's annoyingly cheerful demeanor to what potential lay below the surface. Most sane individuals would think that ticking off a powerful being with the capability to wield magic would be a dangerous idea, but he knew his magic was far more potent than anything that an incensed Genie might throw at him. Still, it was quite impressive to instill enough rage into the blue entity that he stopped with the annoying jokes and magical tricks. He normally had an infuriatingly mild temper and positive attitude towards the world, but Djinn knew that he was hitting the most sensitive issues possible for his fellow genie. He wasn't just causing anger from the blue entity; he was causing a whole spectrum of negative emotions, including fear, frustrated helplessness, and a hint of despair. Of course, he couldn't help but to dig a little deeper when it came to mentally torturing Genie. Transforming his own arms into a pair of mallets and vanishing the shield at the same time, Djinn proceeded to pound away at the blue being back. As they exchanged blows, the orangish-yellow being continued to speak.
"I did upset you, didn't I? You were always such a bleeding heart for the mortals, always trying to see the best in them and hoping that they would prove you right. And you might think that because one particularly dense human set you free, all your little beliefs that powerful beings like us could be 'happy' dealing with mortals and treating them like equals were correct. You wanted to be friends. And even now you think that you're better off than me because these weak creatures continue to interact with you. But you can't really forget, can you?" He gave Genie a particularly malicious look as he smashed his mallet-hand against the blue being's own. Djinn's blow was stronger, forcing his opponent to float backwards with each connecting strike. "You've been alive far too long to ignore it. You're a blind, traitorously naïve, simpering, emotional, pathetic fool, but you aren't that brainless that you aren't aware of it. In the end, all your supposed happiness is nothing but a very short distraction. It can't last for very long. That's the definition of mortality, Genie."
Djinn slammed a mallet into his opponent's side, knocking the less powerful entity even further away. The earlier anger at the dangerous orangish-yellow being for trying to harm Aladdin had fallen away. Now, the blue genie looked like the spirit in him was dying. His gaze dropped and his shoulders slumped. There was no denying that Djinn's words were striking painful blows, finding the doubts and fears that the normally cheerful being tried to ignore. He had years of practice causing the greatest suffering possible without being able to kill; this was far too easy for an expert like him.
Continuing, the orangish-yellow entity taunted, "How many millennia did you spend in your lamp, the years slipping by while you barely noticed? Six thousand years? Seven thousand years? Hardly worth paying attention, isn't it? Time doesn't really matter to powerful beings such as us. On the other hand, in less than a single century, every single one of your precious mortals will be nothing but dust. You would be left alone unless one of these vermin decided to infest the world with more of their numbers. What were you going to do? Follow each generation of these short-lived creatures? Watch them grow old, feeble, and die again and again while you remain exactly the same?"
It was truly amazing how much damage a few words could cause. The blue being had been willing to face him, even knowing he was out matched. He even continued to fight when his only chance at capturing the orangish-yellow entity failed. But simply reminding him about the inescapable truth was destroying any form of resistance or defense from the pathetic loser. If he cared about the reactions of the powerless humans and their pets, he would likely find their fury with Djinn and pleas for Genie not to listen to him rather amusing. The more powerful magical being allowed himself a moment to gloat further, holding his mallet-shaped hands still in the striking position.
"If it wasn't so disgustingly disgraceful, it would be sad. You know that becoming attached to the weak little things is foolish. All of your emotional ties to them, your decision to care about short-lived mortals, all of that will cause you nothing but pain. If I set their blood on fire or rapidly aged them through their given lifespan, it would hurt you nearly as much as what they would endure. And if no outside force touched them, you still lose. You care about the vermin and, because of that emotion, you are doomed to an eternity of misery. Perhaps it is even an act of kindness to destroy you and your pet mortals now instead of having you live with their deaths for centuries to come. Why protect them? Why bother to keep them alive if you will ultimately fail? You're just prolonging your suffering. Why do you even try to keep them safe?"
Unexpectantly, the look of defiance reappeared in Genie's eyes. His head rose up and turned towards where his friends had been trying to rekindle his failing spirit. His gaze met Aladdin's for a moment before he turned swiftly back to glare at Djinn. The magical being's face was no longer expressing rage or despair. Instead, there was absolutely nothing but pure determination on his features.
"Because I wouldn't give up a single second of their friendship for anything in the world," the blue entity declared firmly. "No amount of magic or power is more precious than what time I do have with them, no matter how limited. And I will do anything I can to be with them for as long as I can. Including stopping you."
Genie changed his hands back to normal before creating a fly swatter. He swung the large object through the air and slapped in on top of the orangish-yellow entity. The surprise of the blue being's return to action allowed the attack to strike perfectly and resulted in a rather splattered and messy Djinn across the sandy terrain. The malevolent being swiftly pulled himself back into his usual shape and both of them shrank down to a less-than-gigantic size. Poofing up a slingshot, Genie fired a bright green marble towards the middle of his opponent's head. The small projectile ricocheted off the increasingly angry Djinn's forehead, quickly followed by several more colorful marbles sent flying him. Trying to slap away the annoying round objects, the orangish-yellow entity didn't expect the white, cloth object until Genie tried to poof it on.
Ripping apart the strait-jacket that the blue being created, Djinn decided to simply blast away. No weapons, no instantly-created tools, and no subtlety. He threw pure magic straight at his opponent, the power appearing like something between fire, lightning, and dust, and knocked Genie crashing to the ground hard. This time, the orangish-yellow entity knew he would not be getting up quickly. All thoughts of prolonging the blue magical entity's suffering were gone. He wanted to see Genie destroyed now.
Preparing to end the fight, Djinn glared down at his recovering opponent and stated, "Good-bye, Genie."
His short successes against Djinn were quickly tossed aside as the orangish-yellow genie ripped free of the strait-jacket. He didn't think it would have held him long anyway, but Genie wasn't prepared at all for sheer power of his opponent's retaliation. In his millennia of existence, and especially in the recent years since he'd met Al, he'd been hit by a large variety of magical and non-magical attacks that had left him from mildly stunned to extremely dazed to unable to move for several minutes and having a splitting headache. He'd dealt with being tossed around by several very strong beings before, but that didn't mean getting hit by that much power didn't hurt. And Djinn threw enough magic at him to really sting. Add to that all the other problems he'd been hit with (literally) that day and the fact he was plain worn out from trying to keep up with his more powerful opponent, Genie wasn't surprised the blast of magic had left him feeling hurt, tired, and momentarily stunned. Actually, his head was still spinning pretty badly from it.
Trying to shake himself out of his near punch-drunk state, Genie could almost make out the familiar voices of his friends yelling for him to get up. And he would, if he could figure out which way "up" was at the moment. A slightly more concerning sound, however, was a closer and more menacing voice that was far closer to him.
The blue entity managed to get his eyes open in time to see Djinn right above him (or, rather, three Djinns since his he still wasn't quite recovered) about to throw another blast of pure destructive magic at him. Before the orangish-yellow psycho could go through with the act, a long rope with weights on the end quickly cocooned him. Rather than simply breaking through the apparently minor obstacle, Djinn fell to the ground, trapped. It took only a few moments to identify the object that halted the aggressive genie (a process made easier as his head cleared finally). The realization put a grin back on Genie's face.
"What trickery is this?" snarled Djinn, struggling against the bindings.
"Magic-binding bolos," a voice hissed, drawing everyone's attention towards the new arrival. "An effective way to capture a being of magic, would you not agree?"
The speaker was mostly hidden beneath his billowing dark cloak as he stood near his strange steed, but his face was easily viewed. His skin was reptilian and his eyes were bright yellow. His face was one that would normally inspire hate and even fear in a genie due to so many millennia as sworn enemies, but it was actually having a very different effect on the blue entity. In fact, Genie felt relieved to see him.
"A Mukhtar?" growled the orangish-yellow being. "Release me so that I might rain down death upon the foul creature, Genie. Even you should know the threat of those things."
Instead of reacting to Djinn's order, the blue entity climbed off the ground, gave his friends a reassuring smile that he was fine, and turned back towards the reptilian being who was pulling out a familiar chest. While he might be the last member of a genie-hunting people, this particular individual was not someone that Genie feared anymore.
"Hey, haven't seen you in a while," he called cheerfully. "Decided to be social and come visit."
The yellow-eyed mercenary answered, "I was told that a genie of particularly dangerous capabilities would be present. I was also told that a friend of mine would need my help." He opened the box and a pair of round, clam-like shapes with teeth flew out snapping. They went toward Djinn and snapped onto his wrists, changing into a set of grey manacles. Continuing in his hissing voice, he remarked, "It seems that both of these statements were true. I am glad that I arrived when I did, my friend."
"You call a Mukhtar 'friend'?" bellowed the bound Djinn. "You truly are a traitor to your own kind, Genie. Mortals and genie-hunters: you associate with the lowest of vermin. You are a fool."
"Or perhaps he is far wiser than you, Djinn," another voice suggested. Standing on a sand dune as if he'd been present the entire time was the blind-folded Phasir. His concealed eyes seemed to be watching the group with calm interest. "You tricked and betrayed everyone you encountered in order to gain more power than is rightfully yours. The one you claim to be a fool befriended those you look down upon and yet he is the one who is standing triumphant. You might have more magic, but he is still far stronger than you because he does not have to stand alone." He turned towards Aladdin, Cassim, and the others, "His friends would not allow him to. That was why they will always succeed against those who ignore that strength."
"Useless nonsense," snarled the orangish-yellow entity.
The blind-folded man smiled at Genie, "Do not worry about Djinn further. I shall take care of his future now. Perhaps he may even learn a lesson you seem to know so well."
He nodded toward Mukhtar and a strong gust of wind hit the area. It stirred up a large cloud of sand momentarily before the grainy particles once more settled. In that short time span, Phasir, the reptilian mercenary, and Djinn had vanished.
Genie gave the remaining individuals a grin and vanished the heavy chunk of ice off of Carpet. As impossible as it may seem, they had actually won. They had beaten Djinn (with help from an unexpected source) and everyone had survived. Aladdin, Cassim, Iago, Abu... everyone was fine. All that dread about what might happen to his friends simply dissolved away, leaving nothing but relief.
Finally, the blue magical being asked, "So, how about that vacation?"
How dare that mortal wizard and that Mukhtar capture him like that? He was Djinn: currently the most powerful genie in the universe. There was nothing his magic couldn't accomplish (if he wasn't bound by these magic-binding bolos and shackles).
"You have caused a great deal of harm," the old man stated. "And you are going to fix it."
"Why would I do that?" asked the orangish-yellow being.
"Because if you do not agree to do as he tells you, genie, he shall turn you over to me," answered the Mukhtar. "You know what I am and what my people do to your kind."
Djinn glared at the scaled creature, but knew that he could do nothing to prevent a more final fate while bound. At least the wizard did not seem to desire his ultimate destruction.
"Very well, pathetic mortal, what is you have in mind?" he asked, his tone filled with irritation. "Unimaginable treasure? A kingdom to rule as sultan? Eternal youth?" He snorted at the last. "And how do you intend to control me once you release me?"
The old man smiled kindly, "I desire nothing for myself. I only intend to ensure that the damage you have caused to the world with your new abilities and freedom is repaired. Genies are supposed to have limits. All beings of magic have limits. When you escaped those limits through lies, betrayal, and death, you destroyed that natural balance. And you do not have enough self-control and empathy to be trusted without those limits. I have enough power of my own to assure you keep your word and you will do what must be done, so you can't simply escape."
Djinn narrowed his eyes, "What exactly will it require to rid myself of these bindings and your annoying presence? What is it you believe 'must be done'?"
"First, you will use the power you should never have gained in order to undo an act you should never have been able to commit," he answered cryptically. "Then, you will be educated in humility and compassion by the one you performed the greatest crime against." He pulled out the necklace that Djinn never remembered seeing being picked up. The old man seemed to be looking at the genie's necklace with his blindfolded eyes, studying the pendant carefully. "I once turned my own brother into a stone statue for his crimes. You will be trapped in a new shape. You're mind will be limited to that of your new identity. You will not remember being a genie any longer."
"And you claim my actions were evil?"
"It is only a temporary state," he assured. "You will be a loyal guardian and companion to a very special mortal. You will remain in your new form for the lifespan of that human. Then, you will return to your current existence. And, perhaps, you will have learned the value of life and gain appreciation for what your fellow genie has found."
"Never," snarled Djinn.
"If you do not accept this offer, then I will have to resort to less humane options," the old man explained solemnly. "Perhaps entrapment in your necklace and being cast into the deepest crevice of the sea for all eternity? Or you may simply be given to the Mukhtar for whatever fate he decides upon."
The reptilian being smiled slightly, "And I will not accept any payment for the honor."
Bound tightly, lacking any other options, and furious, the orangish-yellow being finally growled, "Very well. I will accept the short sentence of forced transformation and enslavement rather than a longer suffering. But if you still live once I am freed of this indignity, I swear you will suffer. As will Genie."
"Maybe. Or you might thank us once you realize what you are gaining." The blindfolded man nodded towards the Mukhtar, who pulled his box out and recalled the magical shackles from Djinn. The wizard explained, "You broke the rules to destroy. You will now use it to repair."
Nada watched from a corner of her father's tavern, watching the newest arrival with curiosity. He was even more interesting than Cassim and Iago (who's departure and the days since were strangely blurry and hard to remember). He was apparently blind, but that wasn't the most unusual aspect. Sitting beside him was a small creature. It looked a little like a jackal, but more… friendly. It had orangish-yellow fur and pointed ears that seemed to twitch with every sound. The girl wanted to get closer to the animal, but wasn't certain she could.
The old man smiled towards her, almost like he could see her, and gestured for her to approach. Nada took a hesitant step forward. Her father said not to bother the guests, but it wasn't bothering if he wanted her to come over, right?
"Hello, little one," he greeted. "What is your name?"
She smiled back, "Nada."
"Well, Nada, do you know what this is?" the blindfolded man asked, gesturing at the furry creature. "I bet you've never seen anything like him before, right?"
"No, what is he?"
"This is a dog. They are considered pets in distant and foreign places. They are loyal creatures that protect their owners, but are also wonderful companions for children such as yourself," he explained, causing her to smile slightly. "They are famous for their unconditional love and forgiving nature. For many, they can be true friends that will never leave your side. In some times and places, the dog is called man's best friend."
"How did you get one?" she asked carefully, wondering if she would ever be able to go to one of those distant lands like those.
"Nada, you can pet his head if you like," the old man remarked. She crouched down and complied, giggling slightly as the small animal began to wag his tail in response. "I came across this fellow not long ago. I am looking for someone to take care of him. He needs a new master who will give him a good home. He has had a hard life before now and needs someone special. Someone with a kind heart, patience, and can give him love." He turned his head, giving the impression that he was looking right into her eyes. "Do you think you can do that?"
She stared in surprise at the orangish-yellow furred dog. He was giving her the creature? Nada couldn't believe it. If what the old man was telling her about the animal was true, it was what she always wanted. It would be a friend for her. A loyal friend who wouldn't leave, wouldn't treat her like a silly child like the older girls did, and would care about her without question.
"I… can have him?" she asked hesitantly.
"Yes and he'll be by your side until the day you die. As long as you are kind to him and teach him to see the good and kindness that people are capable of. Teach him that friendship and love are the most precious things he might ever have. If he learns that lesson, he might have a chance to change."
Nada wasn't certain what those last few statements were about, but she had no problem taking good care of the dog she was still petting slowly. She would have someone to play with and to talk to. He wouldn't answer back, but he could listen. She had never even heard of a dog a short time ago, but now she couldn't imagine not having him anymore.
"Oh, and I found this earlier, my child," he suddenly commented, pulling out a thin golden chain with an orange orb set in a pendant. He dangled it in front of her. "Would you happen to know whose this might be?"
"My necklace," squealed the small girl. "I thought I lost it. I couldn't find it anywhere. I had it in my room and…" She paused, trying to recall what occurred that night. It was so fuzzy and hard to remember. "Well, I couldn't find it."
He carefully slipped it over her head, "I suggest you keep it close. Jewelry like this is hard to find, Nada."
She nodded, "I'll be more careful. Thank you for finding it for me." After a moment, she remembered an important question. "What is the dog's name?"
He smiled at her, "Djinn."
"Hello, Djinn," she grinned, looking at the animal happily as she increased the speed of her petting. "My name is Nada. I'm going to be your friend."
The orangish-yellow furred dog began to lick her face, causing her to giggle at the wet tongue tickling her cheek.
Let's see if seventy years or so as a dog (complete with a canine-like mind and all the traits that they're famous for) with a little girl who loves him can break through that stubborn and psychotic nature of Djinn's. I couldn't stand the idea of simply killing off the guy. So, Phasir made him use his limitless power to repair the small village, revive those he killed, and to remove the memories of his attack on those individuals. He won't remember being a genie until Nada dies and Phasir's transformation ends, but he might actually learn an important lesson with this new perspective of life. Plus, Nada gets what she truly wanted to begin with: a friend. Just not in the way she expected. But it isn't like Djinn won't care about her in return; dogs love people.
I'm so sorry this took so long. I hope it was truly worth the wait.