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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 15: Slade 5
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 14, Hastings 5
With the efriit coming toward him, Slade could think of nothing better to do than open one more bottle from the table. Air rushed from the bottle with the sound of a hurricane on the shore. It began to take shape and color, and in seconds filled the space before him. The efriit stopped instantly, and began backing away. The powerful djinn lord rushed upon his enemies, catching one of them and forcing the fire from the body leaving just ash behind. The other escaped through a crack in the floor.
Turning to Slade, the djinni spoke. "I am indebted to you for freeing me from my imprisonment. I shall grant you three wishes."
"Actually," Slade said, "you're indebted to the four of us. I'd never even have known about you without them."
"I owe nothing to these sons of Corlander but vengeance. To you, I offer three wishes. Use them wisely."
Now Slade was in a bind. He had agreed to share whatever they got equally with his three companions; but he couldn't see how three wishes could be shared among four people. And the Caliph of the West Wind was not disposed to do any favors for the descendants of the man who had imprisoned him.
"Do I have to make the wishes right now?"
"No. I grant you time."
"That's good. This will take some thought. I don't want to make bad wishes--I've heard stories of people who made bad wishes, and they were very unhappy about it. So having some time, that's a good thing."
"I grant you an hour to make the first wish, another hour to make the second, and an hour beyond that to make the third."
"I see. Well, I guess that's time. Forseti, I could use a bit of insight here." And with that prayer, he fell silent, put a fresh match in his mouth, and thought long and hard.
Insight came, and before anyone spoke again (other than Filp, who muttered something about a bad idea) he knew what to wish.
"I wish that each of us in this room would know everything there is to know about every wish that was ever granted by any djinni, including who made it and how it changed their lives."
"Granted", said the djinni, and the flood of knowledge which entered Slade's mind was almost too much for his consciousness. He might have blacked out, had he not heard his companions.
"What a stupid--" began Filp.
"Hush," said Omigger. "I think I know where he's going."
Overwhelmed by the mass of information now in his head, Slade collapsed against the wall, and closed his eyes. He had one hour to understand all of this, and make it work. Omigger understood. "What about Al Shavash?" he asked.
"No, it drove him mad," replied Slade.
"Then the Prince of Kasstan?"
"That might work; but I think there are better."
Torelle was catching up. "Then what about Sorgen?" he suggested.
"It wouldn't work. It worked for him because of who he was." Omigger answered.
They all fell silent, lost in thought. Slade started the next round of discussion. "Of course, there's Rendol of Ariasse."
Filp had finally realized what was happening. "But he was never rich."
"And that kind of power," Torelle added, "couldn't easily be shared."
"There was Tig-thane the Mighty," suggested Omigger.
"But that involved a specific person, and would not work for us," answered Slade.
Again they were silent. They continued like this, with small bursts of discussion, for most of the hour. Then Slade said, "All right, it's time. I've decided. I wish that all that was done to grant the wishes of Petrof of Salminia would be done for each of the four of us."
"Granted," said the djinni. "It has been done."
Now Slade really had to think. He had managed with two wishes to get each of them a fortune, a castle, and a small army to defend it. He had one more wish; he had an hour to decide.
Omigger would undoubtedly want some kind of magical resources; for Torelle, the top of the list would be a title. Filp would go for another fortune. As for Slade himself, thoughts of a harem of beautiful young serving girls flitted through his mind.
But something was bothering him, something the caliph had said at the beginning.
Then he knew; he knew what he had to wish. "I wish," he said, "that the four of us would forever be known by all elemental spirits of the air as friends and allies of the djinn and of the Caliph of the West Wind."
Filp started, "What kind of a half--", but Omigger cut him off.
"Hush, thief. Pay attention and learn something."
"He probably just saved your sorry self," Torelle added.
The djinni spoke. "You are shrewd, Robert Elvis Slade, and faithful to your friends. And I think there is more to you than meets the eye. Like the djinn, you know many worlds and uncounted years. You would be a worthwhile ally. These others, their lives are too short to matter much; but don't be surprised if I call on you. Granted."
His hands clapped like thunder, and several more djinn appeared. "When my friends are done here," he said to them, "show them to their new homes." Then he turned back to Slade and the others. "If you'll forgive me, I'm sure there is much undone in my absence." Slade returned the polite bow, and the Caliph of the West Wind dissipated into the air.
Slade looked around at the clay pots, tarnished lamps, stoppered bottles, and assorted junk. He picked up the magical torch which Omigger had set down upon entering the room, and replaced it in its holder on the wall.
"Well, guys, unless there's something I don't see," he said, "I think we're done here."
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with the first six chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #22: Getting Into Characters. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: