The ancient Djinn was pulled from his ancient prison. A beautiful woman smiled at him. “Where did you come from?” She smiled at him, exposing the gap in her front teeth. His prison, the cursed topaz, sparkled from a choker at her throat.
The Djinn rubbed his eyes and looked around. They sat in a tiny garden by a lake shore. It was a far cry from the wastelands he had last seen. “I am a Djinn, milady. I am here to grant you three wishes.”
The woman giggled. “Who put you up to this? It is just like my brothers to play such a trick on me.”
The Djinn bowed deep. His albino skin, the color of bleached whalebone, had been a curse to him in the wastelands. Here at this peaceful lakeside, the sun warmed his skin without the pain he was used to. But disbelief was something he had long ago resigned himself to. “I have had a thousand masters and mistresses over the long years of my life. Always they think that it is a trick. I will give the same demonstration for you that I have for all the others.”
The young woman laughed. “No. If you are to perform for me, let it be something new that has not been seen before.”
The Djinn sank down to the bench opposite of her. He had been intending to conjure up a small bit of fire in the palm of his hand. But this mistress required creativity from him as well. He scratched at the stubble of a beard that was on his face. A small toad hopped across the garden path. “I think I know just the thing.” He scooped up the frog and focused. He could feel the magic pulling from him like a vampire at his neck. It cost him one pint of blood to turn the small green frog into a small green hound. The hound looked around in confusion before cowering in his hands. The young woman’s eyes were wide in amazement.
“Can I see him? That is wondrous!” She smiled wide and fidgeted on the bench.
“Of course. He is yours now. It would cost me too much to turn him back.” The Djinn handed the small hound to her and sat back down gratefully. His eyes lost their focus for a minute so he closed them. He listened as the young woman cooed and coaxed the small hound. Unconsciously he began to sway a bit, a comforting habit from long ago. When he opened his eyes the hound was rolled over on his belly allowing the woman to pet him. The Djinn chuckled. “Seems you have a way with the creature.”
“I shall call him Casket.” She stopped petting the pup and he let out a ribbit-bark. The woman laughed. “Casket is a very insistent little pup.” She caught sight of the Djinn’s swaying. “Why are you moving like that?”
The Djinn was caught off guard, unaware that he had been rocking himself. He stilled his movements. “I’m sorry milady, but all magic comes with a price. Even such a small magic takes a lot out of me.”
A look of horror crossed her face. “You mean it hurts to do this magic? How awful. Will you be alright?”
The Djinn smiled. “Yes. I’m used to it after all these years. Might I ask your name, milady?”
The woman smiled. “My name is Miranda. This is our summer house. Do you have a name?”
The Djinn sighed. “I did once, long ago, but I have forgotten it. Most masters just call me Djinn.”
“How did you get here?”
“I have been trapped in the gem at your throat for a hundred years. I don’t know how it chooses my next master or mistress, I am at the stone’s mercy.”
Miranda reached up and toyed with the topaz choker. “I found this in the attic just this morning.”
The Djinn looked at the flowers around him. Foxglove, oleander, and monkshood flourished around him. He was startled at the number of poisonous plants that flourished around him. “Milady Miranda, you have a strange taste in gardens. I don’t see a single plant that isn’t poisonous.”
Miranda smiled, a gleam in her eye. “I find that the danger they pose only adds to their beauty.”
The Djinn felt the hairs begin to stand up on the back of his neck. Something was wrong here. “I’m a bit parched, would you excuse me while I grab a bit of water from the lake?”
Miranda giggled the way a small child would. It sounded wrong coming from a grown woman. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Like my pretty little garden, the lake is not what it seems.”
Dread crept up Djinn’s spine and sunk its claws into his heart. “What do you mean?”
“It’s not water in the lake, it’s acid. Certainly makes for an unpleasant surprise to anyone who dares to trespass here.” She smiled again and the Djinn could swear that her teeth looked sharper than they had before. “And now with your help, I’ll be able to make the whole world into my playground just as I have this place.” She squeezed her hand tight until Casket’s blood leaked out between her fingers.
Djinn’s hand began to shake. He began to see past the pretty facade to the rot beneath. He would not let this happen again. His last master had laid waste to an entire continent in his madness. He would not allow this woman to use his magic for even worse evil. Djinn bowed low. “As you wish mistress.” He took her arm and walked towards the cottage. The path wound through the garden and curved close to the lake. When they reached the point closest to the lake, he acted. Djinn grabbed the topaz from her throat and ran to the lake. He threw himself and the stone into the lake. He heard Miranda scream from the shore and he smiled as his body and prison were disintegrated at the same time. Free at last.