The Battered Lamp
Chapter Thirty-One: The Strength of the Harem
© Copyright 2014, 2015
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Note: Thanks to b0b for being my beta reader.
Cast of Characters
Kyle Unmei Jr.: Half-Japanese/Half-Kurdish owner of Aaliyah and wielder of Earthbones. Poisoned by Burke as they fought.
Aaliyah Unmei: A Jann sent to marry the prophesied savior of the Djinn. Kyle’s First Wife. Reunited with Kyle.
Fatima Unmei : Kyle’s younger sister and wife, wielder of Fireheart.
Christy Unmei nee Leonardson: Kyle’s long-time girlfriend turned third wife. A witch who follows Ishtar and wields Shadowedge.
Fumi Unmei nee Nakamura: Kyle’s fourth wife. A succubus-like Yuki-onna and wielder of Windfeather. She is blind.
Britney Kingston: Kyle’s best friend since elementary school. She is a Rakshasa and has sworn to defend Kyle. She is a hermaphrodite and has claimed Phillipa as her mate. Wielder of Waterclaw.
Sultan Rashid ibn al-Marid: The despotic ruler of the Djinn and leader of the Marid clan. Wants Aaliyah dead to thwart the prophecy.
Hecate: The Dark Goddess that both Ms. Franklin and Burke served. Sent a familiar to seize Faiza’s soul when she died. Hecate has possessed Faiza.
Faiza Unmei: Kyle and Fatima’s widowed mother. Killed by Burke. Her soul was stolen by a familiar of Hecate. Resurrected by Hecate as an instrument of the Dark Goddess’s vengeance against Kyle. Hecate has possessed Faiza.
Makerah: An Unbound Marid, a Djinn that has violated the Laws of his people and escaped punishment through a dark ritual. A servant of Sultan Rashid and his son. Ordered to hunt down Aaliyah and Zaritha and kill them.
Aljihm: An Unbound Ifrit and servant of Sultan Rashid. Ordered to hunt down Aaliyah and Zaritha and kill them. Allied with Khiana. Together, they have infiltrated Khoshilat Maqandeli to kill Kyle and Aaliyah.
Aalizunah: An Unbound Si’lat and servant of Sultan Rashid. Ordered to hunt down Aaliyah and Zaritha and kill them. Slain by Britney.
Jowdah: An Unbound Ghul and servant of Sultan Rashid. Killed by Zaritha.
Khiana: An Unbound Jann. Once a bitter rival to Sultan Rashid but now a servant of the Sultan. Ordered to hunt down Aaliyah and Zaritha and kill them. Revealed to be Aaliyah’s father. He has killed his son, Sihab to regain control of the Jann and attack the unsuspecting Kyle.
Ms. Franklin: The deceased servant of Burke and leader of the coven. Also known as Celestite.
Principal Burke: The identity assumed by Alphonse of Toulouse, a nine-hundred-year-old knight. A warlock serving Hecate. Killed by Kyle.
Chyna Unmei nee Coel: Kyle’s first concubine. Ms. Franklin cast a spell on Kyle and Chyna, forcing them into a slave/master relationship.
Shannon Unmei nee Coel: Chyna’s hot mom and Kyle’s second concubine.
Alexina Unmei nee Kendrick: Blonde concubine.
Carla Unmei nee Tyler: Redhead concubine.
Antonette “Toni” Unmei nee Buckley: Cheerleader concubine.
Daniella “Ms. Capello” Unmei nee Capello: Kyle’s English teacher and concubine.
Lois Unmei nee Smilingfox: A lesbian Domme that serves Kyle as a concubine.
Ann Unmei nee Weaver: Fatima’s friend and strawberry-blonde hair.
Kayleah Unmei nee Peterson: Fatima’s bleached blonde concubine and former rival.
Teleisia Unmei nee Otis: Aaliyah’s African American concubine.
Phillipa Kingston nee Stoddard: Former member of Ms. Franklin’s coven where she was known as Jade. Captured by Britney, Phillipa submitted to Britney and became her mate, discovering that she is a masochist.
Mindy Unmei nee Stoneking: A nurse at the hospital where Fatima is sick and Kyle’s newest concubine.
Sable Unmei nee Purcell: Also known as Tourmaline, she was a member of Ms. Franklin’s witch coven. While fighting with Christy, she was hit by a Love Elemental’s attack and now completely loves Christy.
Zaritha Unmei: An Ifrit serving the despotic ruler of the Djinn and sent to kill Aaliyah. After saving Aaliyah, she now serves Kyle as a faithful concubine.
Shiekh Umar ibn al-Jann: Aaliyah’s father. Believed dead, but really he became the Unbound Jann Kihana. Murder his son and heir to trap Kyle and kill his daughter Aaliyah.
Kalsom binti Abdullah: An old Jann woman that made the Kalsomid Prophecy, setting into motion Aaliyah’s sleep in the lamp.
Ishtar: The Goddess of Magic Christy, Sable, and Phillipa now serve.
Sarai: The daughter of Rashid. She is angry at her father and helps Kyle, pledging the Marid’s support to his rule if he overthrows Rashid.
Sayid: The Vizier to Sheikh Sihab ibn Jann. Helped Khiana and Aljihm to attack Kyle.
Friday, January 29th – Khoshilat Maqandeli, the Hidden Realm
Fire burned. Smoke choked Kyle, flooding the room. Zaritha and Aljihm’s fires raged behind him. The sapphire room roasted. Kyle, Britney, and Zaritha had been lured here for a war summit. But instead of meeting with Sihab’s councilors, one of Rashid’s minions—an Unbound Ifrit named Aljihm—attacked them. Kyle didn’t have time to figure out what was going on. The room filled with smoke. He had to hammer down the sapphire door to escape.
He raised his katana Earthbones up, golden light flaring from the blade, and slammed it down on the door. Another crack splintered across the blue, gemstone surface.
Kyle swayed, his lungs burning from the smoke he inhaled. He pushed down the wave of dizziness sweeping through him. He couldn’t succumb to smoke inhalation. Britney crouched near the floor, pressing her shawl to her mouth.
Zaritha shrieked behind him.
Kyle drew up his sword a third time, slamming down. His sword struck the sapphire door. His knees buckled. He swayed, falling to his knees. Everything swam. He needed cool air. He needed to get out of here.
“I…don’t think…it worked,” he coughed to Britney.
Aaliyah ran down the hallways, her slippers slapping on the polished, brown stone. Teleisia ran at her side. Fear hammered in the young Djinn’s heart. Her insane father had just tried to kill her. He was Unbound now, serving his enemy Rashid. Mindy and Carla had saved her, throwing themselves at her father to buy her time to escape.
She had to get to Kyle. Aaliyah tried to communicate with him, but he didn’t respond. He must be in the counsel room! The counsel room, where Kyle had been summoned, was made of sapphire. No form of Djinn mental telepathy or magical scrying could penetrate sapphire.
Her sides ached from running. She wanted to turn into a whirlwind of dust and zip to Kyle, but her father had slapped a diamond necklace on her. Diamond anchored her. She couldn’t assume a new form or teleport if Kyle were to summon her.
All she could do was run.
A woman screamed behind her.
Aaliyah threw a look over her shoulder. Mindy hurtled down the hallway, thrown by a cloud of billowing dust—Aaliyah’s father in his whirlwind form. Mindy crashed in a heap on the ground, the concubine rolling. Her body bled from a dozen, small pinpricks, and her skin looked abraded raw in spots. Mindy gained her feet, growling, and charge down the hallway.
“Keep running, Mistress!” she yelled.
Mindy, like all the concubines, had been enhanced by Christy’s magic, transformed into a warrior with reflexes, speed, and endurance far beyond a normal human’s. Teleisia slid to a halt, turning to charge back at the dust cloud.
“Get to Master!” the ebony concubine shouted. “Hurry, Mistress.”
Aaliyah kept running, turning the corner, racing towards the counsel chambers. She only prayed that the concubines could stop her father without getting killed. The sound of whirling dust and women fighting dwindled as she raced through the palace, cutting through open gardens, forcing her body to keep running to reach her husband.
She grew closer, entering into the bowels of the palace. Hope blossomed inside her. She was going to make it to her husband and be delivered from this nightmare. He could stop her father. He had defeated Burke by himself. And Britney would be with him. The Rakshasa was fierce in a fight.
“Watch out!” Ms. Capello shouted ahead. “There’s another one coming from behind.”
Aaliyah rounded the corner and tried to halt her running. Her slippered feet slid on the smooth stone, slipping out from beneath her. She fell on her backside as Ms. Capello, Shannon, and her daughter Chyna battled three of the massive homunculi that guarded the castle.
Chyna back-flipped out of the way of one of the towering, dust homunculi swinging a ram-do—a massive, two handed sword with a thick blade. Stone cracked where Chyna stood, the blade marring the marble.
“You’re not touching my daughter!” bellowed Shannon, charging the homunculi in her purple silks. She kicked the towering automaton in the knee, dust billowing as it cracked. The leg folded and the homunculus leaned over, falling onto the tiles.
Chyna fell on it, punching her fist through the homunculi’s chest before the automaton could rise, the construct falling back into dust. Ms. Capello ducked under a second sword strike, punching it in the groin, her fist shattering through surface. Dust leaked out and the homunculi staggered.
“What’s going on?” Aaliyah shouted, climbing to her feet as Shannon dispatched the damaged construct.
“They attacked us the moment the doors closed, Mistress,” Ms. Capello shouted as mother and daughter attacked the last remaining dust guardian. The teacher turned to the door, seizing the sapphire handle and straining to open it. Her hand jerked back. “That’s burning hot. And Master’s in there! He was banging on the door.”
“He cracked it,” Aaliyah gasped, striding forward. “Break it down. I can’t communicate through the sapphire.”
“Yes, Mistress!” Ms. Capello, her big tits bouncing beneath her purple, silk vest, drew back her fist and slammed it into the door. More cracks appeared. The door seemed weakened by Kyle, and the concubine’s strength fractured it more.
“That’s hurt,” groaned Ms. Capello as she drew back her fist and punched again. She screamed in pain, grasping her wrist as more cracks spider-webbed across it.”
“Are you okay?”
“I broke my hand,” she gasped, her wrist twisted.
Christy looked up at the homunculus above her, raising up its sword. Her plan was unraveling quickly. She had planned on using Shadowedge, her staff, to teleport about the room and draw a magic circle. With the circle, Phillipa could ground out the magic animating the three constructs attacking them. Christy had drawn the first point, but when she teleported to draw the second, she had collided with Lois.
And the concubine had knocked the chalk out of Christy’s hand. The chalk had rolled right to the feet of their attackers. Christy swallowed, looking up at the deadly homunculus. The witch was vulnerable now. Sable and Phillipa were safe behind the shield, and Lois had her enhanced reflexes.
The homunculus sword swung. Christy teleported away from the chalk and the sword strike, flashing back to the protection of Sable’s shield.
“That didn’t work out well,” Phillipa said.
“Yeah,” Christy muttered. “What attack spells so you know?”
“I only know sleep and pain spells. I don’t think those will work against animated dust.”
“Probably not,” groaned Christy.
Lois danced about the room. She was the only concubine here, and though the Native American teen was nimble, it took all her effort just to keep the homunculi’s swords from finding her flesh, let alone getting an attack in.
“So, do we just sit her under the shield until help comes?”
“I can go get help,” Christy said. “Fatima and Fumi are just out in the garden. And Kyle’s in the counsel room.”
“Do you know where the counsel room is?” Phillipa asked, her black hair matted by sweat to her olive face.
“Nope. I guess it’s Fatima and Fumi them.”
“Banzai!” a young woman roared.
Christy recognized that shout. With a smile, she said, “Guess I don’t need to get Fatima.”
The young teen leaped through the curtains that shaded off the open archways from the garden, her flaming spear held before her. Kayleah and Ann, Fatima’s two concubines, were right behind her. Ann’s face was bruised and Fatima’s red silks were covered in dust.
Her spear stabbed into one of the constructs. Fire flared, and the construct turned. Cracks formed across its body as it moved, dust sloughing off in hard chunks and falling to the floor. Fatima baked the dust homunculi into clay brick, the automaton cracking into brittle pieces around her spear’s fiery tip.
“I don’t know what’s going on!” Fatima shouted as she charged the next construct. Ann, Kayleah, and Lois swarmed the third, their enhanced strength ripping the construct to pieces as Fatima’s fire hardened and backed the other one.
“Me either,” Christy sighed, stepping out of Sable’s spell. “But I’m glad to see you.”
Fatima turned, leaning on her spear. She looked fierce for such a small teen, her dusky body dripping sweat. “So, what is going on?” Fatima asked.
“We were attacked. We’ve been set up. Kyle and Aaliyah were lured away.”
“Okay. Let’s go and find them,” Fatima grinned.
“I don’t know where they’re at,” Christy complained
A woman’s shout came through the walls. “We just follow the sounds of fighting,” Fatima shrugged. “There’s no way our husband’s going down without tearing this place up.”
Fumi lowered her bow as the last homunculi fell to pieces, blown apart by her wind. Toni gasped in pain, her leg twisted at strange angle. Alexina bent over the concubine, tending to her wound. Fumi turned back to the palace, sending wind before her to paint everything with stark clarity. She could only see thanks to Windfeather, her bow, showing her the wind currents flowing around solid objects.
The sound of fighting echoed from the palace. It wasn’t just the three of them that had been attacked. “Stay with Toni and protect her,” Fumi commanded.
“I’m supposed to protect you, Mistress,” Alexina objected.
“I’ll be fine. But she’s hurt and vulnerable.”
“But…” Fumi fixed her sightless gaze at Alexina. The concubine’s face bowed. “Yes, Mistress.”
Fumi ran across the garden, the wind whipping around her, pushing her forward. She leaped, the wind carrying her over a railing and into the palace itself. She paused, listening to the sound of women yelling and a great, roaring wind. It came from her left.
“Fumi!” Fatima shouted, emerging ahead as Fumi raced through the hallway.
“The fight’s this way!” Fumi shouted, racing by. “Come on!”
“Right behind you!” laughed Fatima, the younger woman catching up, her yari held before as she ran. Behind them, Christy, the witches, and three concubines followed.
The party rounded a corner. Wind howled, thick with dust before them. A man seemed to stand at the center, controlling the dust-filled winds. Three concubines were battered about in the storm, their bodies tossed and battered.
“That dust is thick!” Fatima shouted. “Can you see in there, Fumi?”
“Our enemy stands at the center.” Fumi drew upon Windfeather, reaching out to the wind, charming it to her whim. She calmed the fury roaring around the man, seeking to calm it.
“The weapons,” boomed the man at the storm’s center. “Why did I ever send those weapons away? I could have defeated Rashid with them! But I listened to that old hag!”
The man fought her control over the wind, trying to whip his dust about and hurt the concubines. But Fumi wasn’t going to let him win. The winds were hers. She held Windfeather. Not this man.
Fatima led the charge, racing down the hallway. “Banzai!” she screamed, her spear rippling with heat.
Fumi channeled more of her personality through the bow, stilling all the dust in the air until it floated harmlessly, drifting down to the ground. The man just stood there, facing Fatima’s charge. Ann, Kayleah, and Lois were on her heels.
“She can do it,” Christy whispered, stepping up beside Fumi.
Fatima’s spear stabbed into the man.
He laughed and became dust, slamming into Fatima. Her wife gave a startled yelp and then was buried in an avalanche of dust that swept down the hallway. It roared and rasped, the dust almost flowing like a water as it flooded the corridor. The concubines were swept up, screaming as they were pushed before the tide of dust that raced right for Fumi and Christy, eager to swallow them up.
Cool air rushed against Kyle’s cheek.
The door shuddered. Something struck it from the other side, splintering it enough for a single crack to let air flow through, bringing hope to Kyle in the blistering inferno. Britney huddled against him, using what little moisture was in the air to try and cocoon them from the heat and smoke.
It wasn’t much.
The sapphire the room was constructed from blocked all forms of mental communication, including his power to command the earth. But there was a chink in the armor. He slipped his commands through the crack, ordering the rocks that made the floors and walls of the palace beyond the sapphire room to slam into the door. A great, loud thud rattle the room, the door ringing as it cracked.
“You’re doing it,” hissed Britney.
He focused on his commands, fighting off the smoke choking him.
Another chunk of wall slammed into the door. Like shattered glass, shards of sapphire rained down on them as the door burst inward. Kyle groaned as a large piece struck his head. Pain flared as his head rang. Smoke billowed out in a great rush through the shattered door. Britney pushed him through, and they stumbled out into the hallway, coughing for breath.
“Kyle!” Aaliyah screamed and to his amazement, his Genie wife caught him as he staggered, pressing her body against him.
The hallway was littered in piles of dust and his concubines looked flushed from exertion. “What’s going on?” Kyle coughed.
“My father’s alive,” Aaliyah whispered. “He attacked me. Tried to kill me. He’s Unbound.”
“Just like the Ifrit in there,” groaned Kyle.
“The little houri!” a voice cackled from inside the counsel room. “So Khiana failed to kill you. Now I get the pleasure!”
An explosion rocked the floor. Zaritha hurtled through the shattered door in a streak of fire, slamming into a pillar and collapsing in a smoldering heap. Aljihm, his body blackened by fire and cracked by raw fissures, strode out of the smoke, flames dancing about him. The Unbound Ifrit gazed at Kyle’s wife with murderous hunger.
Kyle commanded the stones, the floors ripping up, forming a wall from floor to ceiling about Aljihm, pressing in to crush the wild Ifrit. The stones began glowing cherry red, heat rolling off in waves as they deformed and began to melt.
“We cannot fight him here,” Britney shouted. “It is too confined. He’ll roast us.”
“Ideas?” Kyle asked her, his lungs raw from the smoke. He commanded more stone to surround the Ifrit, buying them a few more moments.
“I’m coming for you, Aaliyah,” cackled the Ifrit. “I want to hear your voice scream as my fire chars your flesh and cracks your bones.”
“We should retreat to a location with more tactical advantage,” Britney advised.
Kyle grabbed Aaliyah’s hand, jerking her behind him as he ran. “Follow me! I have an idea!”
Christy cast her spell right before the wall of dust slammed into her and Fumi. The dust hit her shield, rolling around it, plunging them into darkness as they were swallowed. Christy clung to Fumi, fear hammering in her heart.
“Such young flesh,” cackled the Jann attacking them. “I do so love them young and unspoiled. Once my daughter is dead, I will be sure to share my affections with the both of you.”
“Ideas?” Fumi asked.
Christy wanted to answer, but she kept having to chant the spell, the words rolling out of her lips as she channeled the power of Ishtar. Fumi’s arm tightened about her, pulling her in tight against the Japanese woman’s body.
The green metal inlaid in Windfeather shone, filling their pocket with light. Fumi’s all-white eyes seemed to glow emerald in the light. Christy’s ears popped as air swirled about them, rustling their silk pantaloons.
Then the air exploded from Fumi.
Christy shrieked, her brown hair whipped into her face. The dust engulfing them was blown away by the typhoon Fumi had unleashed. Dust pushed down the hallway, falling in clumps on the brown stone. Fatima and the concubines staggered to their feet, coughing and gasping, skin rasped raw by the abrasive dust.
“That fucking asshole!” Fatima spat, her cheek oozing blood.
Fumi whirled, letting go of Christy. She staggered, falling into the corridor wall and turning to see Fumi’s arrow streak down the hallway and strike the old man, his beard stained with rust. The arrow embedded in his shoulder.
But the old man’s flesh became dust. “You cannot wound the earth,” he cackled.
“But you can erode it with wind!” Fumi cried.
The arrow detonated into a squall. Dust blew into Christy’s face, stinging her eyes with grit. She squeezed them closed, clamping her mouth shut. The wind died, and she spat dirt out of her lips, shuddering when she realized what that dust really was.
“Did you kill him?” Fatima asked, walking up, her cheek oozing blood. “I hope you killed him.”
Dust swirled at their feet. “Erosion doesn’t destroy the earth,” wheezed the old man. “It merely transforms the earth. Eventually, the dust settles and the land is reborn.”
Dust roiled down the hallway, undulating almost like flowing water, gathering back together. A figure was rising up out of it, the old man. Christy knew what to do. Her former coven had held Aaliyah with a magic circle. Her staff appeared in her hand, flashing out of the darkness. She folded space, appearing back in Kyle’s bedroom.
The piece of chalk was right where she left it.
“What are you doing?” gaped Fatima when Christy flashed back, bending down to make the first point.
She didn’t have time to answer. She crawled through the flowing dust, marking the seven points for the circle. Phillipa and Sable joined her. The pair were untouched by the dust, sheltering under their own shield spell. They surrounded the growing Jann, ready to help.
Christy completed the circle.
Phillipa and Sable powered it.
The energy connecting the Jann to the dust was severed. All the flowing dust settled. The Jann screamed inside the circle, his flesh appearing. But he was scrawnier, all bones, his dusky skin hanging off his bones, the majority of his flesh trapped outside the circle.
“Let me out!” he howled, slamming his fists against the invisible wall of the circle. “Let me out, pretty girls. I can give you such delights.”
Fatima snorted. “I’ll pass. You’re a little more wrinkled than I like in a man.”
“He is contained?” Fumi asked.
“So long as one of us maintains the spell,” Christy said as Phillipa chanted.
“This is how they held Aaliyah,” Fatima whispered. “Phillipa was the one maintaining that circle.”
Christy nodded. “That’s how I knew it would work.”
“So how do we kill him?” Fatima touched her the raw abrasion on her cheek oozing blood.
“No idea.” Christy reached out her hand. “Let me heal you.”
Fatima smiled as her flesh knitted back together, growing smooth and dusky once more. “Thanks, Christy.” Then the younger woman threw her arms around Christy’s neck, and kissed her on the mouth.
Christy enjoyed the feel of her wife’s lips, the fiery, young woman thrusting her tongue into Christy’s mouth. When Fatima broke the kiss, Christy felt a little light headed, a foolish grin splitting her lips.
“I forgive you,” Fatima sighed. “I guess, you’re not going to betray us.”
A tear ran down Christy’s cheek, and she hugged Fatima fiercely. “Thank you.”
“Fatima, send your fire into the circle and burn him,” Fumi announced. “Melt his dust into glass.”
“Then you better get back,” Fatima smiled, fire flicking at the end of her spear.
The magic circle died down as the witches and the concubines scattered. Heat rolled through the hallway as Fatima’s flames built. The old man screamed out as the stone floor of the hallway cracked at Fatima’s feet. Christy shivered, heat rushing out of the air, gathered by Fatima, feeding the fire she was growing. The temperature plummeted, frost riming the floor.
“She pulls heat out of the air to make her fires?” Christy gasped. “I never realized it.”
“To make an average fire, I doubt she had to lower the temperature around her by more than a degree or two. But she’s making an inferno.” Fumi’s voice sounded awed.
“Mistress is roasting him,” Teleisia nodded, her ebony face battered. “Listen to his screams.”
The Unbound Jann’s pain-filled voice rose over the roaring bonfire.
When the fire died, the floor was warped and bubbled, and a melted glass statue of a man gleamed in the the light flickering from Fatima’s spear. The young woman stood beside that statute naked, her clothes consumed in the inferno. She had a satisfied smile on her face as she stared at the dead Jann.
Aaliyah stumbled as Kyle pulled her along, trying to keep up with her husband’s pace. Fire roared behind them, the twisted Ifrit melting through all the obstacles Kyle placed in the monster’s path. Fear hammered in her heart.
“I’m slowing you down, my love,” Aaliyah called out, cursing the diamond collar about her neck. “Leave me behind.”
“So he can burn you?” Kyle growled. “I’ll die first.”
He stopped, grabbing her by the waist and throwing her over his strong shoulder. She dangled, staring behind them as he ran, his pace slower now that he was carrying her. Britney hissed in frustration as Kyle struggled to keep up. Stone cracked and shattered, and heat rolled down the hallway as the Ifrit melted through another wall.
Kyle’s katana flared gold. Another wall of stone erupted behind them.
Almost instantly, the stones glowed cherry red.
“We’re going too slow,” growled Britney. “You have to run faster.”
“I can carry her, Master,” Ms. Capello shouted, clutching her broken wrist.
“No. she’s my wife.”
Aaliyah felt a surge of happiness at her husband’s rock-hard determination. He vaulted over a archway looking out onto a small garden, the group cutting across. Another wall erupted, dirt fountaining into the air. Green plants whipped at them as they ran through the garden before Kyle vaulted over a low wall back into the palace. Kyle’s breath was labored, coughs wracking his body.
“This is not working, Kyle,” Britney hissed. “You inhaled too much smoke. You cannot keep this up.”
“Aaliyah, I wish you were as light as a feather so I can carry you to a garden bower and make love to you.”
“Done,” the Djinn gasped, her power flowing out of her.
Her body felt light and airy, almost lifting up from Kyle’s shoulders as he ran faster. He was no longer grunting. She was no longer slowing him down. Aaliyah didn’t understand why fighting Aljihm in the garden was better than in the palace, but she trusted her husband.
“That way,” Britney snarled. “I think I know your plan. I can smell it.”
Kyle turned left, his slippered feet pounding down the hallway. Aaliyah realized they were in Sihab’s harem. Kyle shouldn’t be in here. This was a place for only women. She pushed down her people’s laws; they hardly mattered right now.
Sunlight fell on her. They were outside in the harem gardens. Britney seemed to be leading them, guiding them through the perfumed beauty of flowering vines hanging from trellis amid shady persimmon trees.
Fire crackled behind them. The gardens burning.
“There!” Britney shouted. “That is what you wanted, right?”
Water splashed at Kyle’s feet, drops striking her face. He whirled around setting her down in the shin-deep water and thrusting her behind him. Aaliyah pressed against his back, trembling as Aljihm’s inferno neared.
“This is perfect,” Kyle said. “You understand what to do, Britney.”
“I do,” she grinned, her face striped black. “This might work.”
I wish I knew what the plan is.
The gardens burned, ash raining down on them, spreading around the pool. The concubines flanked around Kyle, crouched and wary. Britney drew her dagger, watering dripping from the blade, the pool rippling about their feet as Britney guided the liquid.
Aaliyah’s eyes widened. “You’re a genius, Kyle,” she whispered.
“You think to cower in a pool?” Aljihm sneered, striding out of the inferno. His body was blackened and burned, but he seemed to be in no pain. “You think that little water can snuff out my inferno?”
The Ifrit stepped into the water. It hissed and steamed, boiling about his feet.
“My fire’s burn hot!” he roared, thrusting his fist forward.
Flames shot at them, the water flashing to steam before it. The water at their feet surged and lifted up, swallowing the flames. Then Britney threw the boiling water at the Ifrit, hissing and popping as it streaked through the air, leaving a trial of steam behind.
The water seemed to explode into billowing white when it struck Aljihm, damp, hot mist rolling around them. Kyle surged forward, disappearing into the thick, white steam. Fire crackled and Aaliyah’s heart leapt into her throat.
Kyle surged forward into the billowing steam, protected from its scalding heat by Britney’s power. Through the earth, Kyle could feel where Aljihm stood. He commanded the mud at the Ifrit’s feet to rise up, seizing him by the ankles while he raised his sword.
Britney was at his side, hissing in excitement.
Light flared in front of him, fiery orange, thrusting forward.
But water was all around them. Kyle knew Britney would understand the advantage. Just because it was steam, didn’t mean she couldn’t control it. The air suddenly condensed, the steam precipitating into rain that fell right on the Ifrit’s fire, dousing it.
“That won’t work!” the Ifrit bellowed. Heat rolled into Kyle as he raised his sword. “My flames burn too hot!”
Kyle’s sword flashed down, sparkling gold.
Aljihm saw the attack and shot his fire forward. But he hadn’t gathered the heat enough. Britney’s water slowed him down, giving Kyle the time to cross the distance. The Ifrit tried to pull away, but his feet were trapped.
So he became fire.
He commanded the earth to burst up around the whirling fire, forming a wall that curled over to stop the fire’s escape. All the water of the pond rushed past Kyle, channeled by Britney, and slammed into the Ifrit’s firewhirl.
Steam flashed as Britney drowned the Ifrit. Kyle continued shaping the earth, pulling the stonewall around the drenched fire. Steam billowed out, the Ifrit’s fires weakening, sputtering. The last water in the pond poured in, boiling way in a flash.
Kyle closed the earth around the firewhirl, pulling the Ifrit down into the ground, smothering his weakened flames. He could feel the Ifrit struggle and howl, trying to pour enough heat to melt the stone. Kyle took him deeper below the ground, burying him beneath a hundred feet of rock. The pressure grew, squeezing down on Aljihm’s dwindling fire.
He held the Ifrit down there until he felt the rocks began to cool. The Ifrit’s fire was out.
“Your plan worked,” Britney said.
“I’m just glad you understood your role.”
“It was a simple plan. Perhaps, that is why it was so successful.”
“Thanks,” Kyle snorted, his lungs burning as he breathed.
Aaliyah walked over, putting her arms on him. “We still have to deal with my father.”
“What do we do now?” Fatima asked as she stared at the glass statue.
“We need to find Mistress,” Teleisia said. “She was running to get Master.”
“So, does anyone know where the council chamber is?” Fatima looked around.
Christy and the witches shook their heads and the concubines all shrugged. “She was running that way,” Teleisia pointed.
The world suddenly folded around Fatima and then she popped back into reality, her bare feet sinking into mud. She blinked as she stumbled, arms whirling to hold her balance. She stood in the bottom of an empty pond, colorful fish flopping around the mud while a garden burned around them. Kyle stood nearby, Aaliyah’s arm wrapped around him. Soot smeared his face and body, and he coughed as he leaned on Aaliyah.
“Britney!” Phillipa gasped and hugged the equally bedraggled Rakshasa.
All the concubines and wives had been summoned by Kyle’s wish. “What happened here, big bro?”
“A mad Ifrit.”
“Zaritha? Did you piss her off.”
Kyle shook his head and pointed at a groaning, wounded Zaritha. “She saved me. It was one of the Unbound.”
“Like that Jann we killed,” Fatima panted.
“You killed him?”
Fatima frowned at the pain in Aaliyah’s voice. “You bet we did, Aaliyah. I turned him to glass.”
“That was my father.”
Fatima gaped. “I…uh…what?” Guilt punched her in the stomach
A tear ran down Aaliyah’s cheek, then her Genie wife walked over and hugged her. “It’s for the best,” Aaliyah cried. “He was Unbound. That was really just a shell. An empty husk full of evil.”
Fatima hugged her back, relieved Aaliyah didn’t hate her.
“We need to know what’s going on,” Kyle growled. “Are the Jann our enemies? Why did the Vizier lead us into a trap?”
“My father commanded his loyalty,” Aaliyah sighed. “He…killed my brother and…” She let out a shuddering sob. “…it should be fine now that father’s dead.”
“Should be isn’t enough.” Anger hardened Kyle’s face. “I want that Vizier brought to me. I want some answers!”
“We’re on it, Master,” Shannon said.
“We’ll be in the throne room. If Sihab is dead than Aaliyah is the Sheikh or Sheikhess.”
“I’m not the Sheikha,” Aaliyah answered, shaking her head. “Sihab will have a son. Maybe not fully matured, but he will rule once he comes of age.”
“Fine. Bring me the Vizier, Shannon.” Kyle tossed Shannon a diamond collar. “This will keep him from escaping.”
“We won’t fail you.”
Kyle sat on the tourmaline throne, his wives flanking him on small chairs Aaliyah conjured. Zaritha sat at his feet, restored by Fatima’s fire. His concubines, the ones that didn’t go to hunt down the Vizier, lounged about, looking sexy and dangerous. Many had been beaten up in the scuffle, but the witches patched up their wounds.
The Jann, who seemed to have all fled before the attack, filed back in, looking downcast. Kyle fixed hard eyes on them. None had any spine. They all had stood aside while Aaliyah’s insane father set them up to attack.
Because we had been too trusting. We let our guard down. None of these Genie can be trusted.
The doors thrust open and Shannon and Chyna dragged the Vizier between them, the diamond collar about his throat. He blubbered, tears running down his wrinkled cheeks to his snowy beard. The Jann nobles all quieted, watching the Vizier with apprehension.
“Master,” Shannon smiled, throwing the Jann at the feet of his throne.
“I’m sorry, your greatness,” blubbered the Vizier. “I had to. He was the Sheikh. His word is the law in Khoshilat Maqandeli. I could no more oppose him than the sun can oppose setting at night. Mercy. Please.”
“How can he ever trust you?” Aaliyah asked. “Sihab ibn al-Jann, my noble brother, swore our tribe to Kyle, declaring him the Sultan. Yet you conspired to betray him. How can such feckless service be forgiven?”
Kyle blinked in surprise and had to resist looking at her and gaping. She sound so majestic, a queen addressing her servant.
“I was afraid. Your father was wild. Deranged. He threatened my daughters. Please, your Exaltedness. Show mercy to a foolish, old man. I will swear to be your servant.”
“What oath can hold you?” Aaliyah asked. “I know of only one.”
“By the laws of creation that bind me, I swear to give leal service to Kyle Unmei, Sultan of the Hidden People. As Steward for Yusuf ibn al-Jann, the infant son of Sihab, I bind the Jann tribe to your cause.”
Aaliyah gave a nod.
“Then we need to figure out our next step,” Kyle stated. “One of the five tribe is behind us. How do we get the Ghul, Si’lat, and Ifrit to join our side?”
“I know how to deliver the Ifrit,” Zaritha said.
“The court should be cleared,” Britney said. “Only those you trust should hear her words.”
“Very wise,” cackled an old crone, striding out of the crowd of Jann nobleman.
Kyle frowned leaning over to Aaliyah. “I thought women weren’t tolerated in the court.” It confused him last night when she spoke, guiding Sihab to swear allegiance.
“She’s Kalsom binti Abdullah,” Aaliyah answered. “The oldest of the Jann.”
“I am,” the bent, old woman smiled. “A thousand years I have awaited for your arrival. The fulfillment of my prophecy is at hand.”
“Prophecy?” Kyle asked.
Aaliyah shook her head. “I only knew it was her plan to marry me to Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb.”
“It was my plan to marry you to him,” the crone answered, pointing at Kyle.
“Then why was I put in the lamp eight hundred years ago?” Aaliyah asked. “Why did you tell my father another man was to be my husband?”
“It was the only way to safeguard you for your bridegroom, child. Rashid knew of my prophecy. He knew you were at the center of it. That your husband would be the man to topple him, and he is desperate to hold onto power. That is why he has gathered the most vile criminals among our people.”
“Like my father,” Aaliyah sadly whispered.
“Your father’s grief at your disappearance drove him to violate our people’s law to try and assassinate Rashid.”
“Law?” Kyle asked.
“Djinn may not shed their fellow’s blood in the Hidden Realm,” Aaliyah answered.
The old woman nodded. “And instead of facing his punishment for his desperate sin, your father unbound his soul and became a monster.”
“All because you sent me eight hundred years too early!” snapped Aaliyah.
“Rashid would never have let you live so long. You have seen his servants. One of the Unbound would have snuffed out your life. I had to protect you. The lamp was the perfect vessel. You were destined for Kyle. I knew you would find your way to him eventually. I lied to your father. I found a mortal with a destiny of greatness, one that your father would believe could rule our people. But you have accomplished your destiny. The six shall be one, the Marid defeated.”
“Six?” Christy asked.
“The Warrior of the Earthen Blade.” She bowed to Kyle. “The Consort of the Brass Lamp.” Aaliyah shifted in her seat. “The Consort of the Fiery Spear.”
“Told you I was supposed to have the spear,” snarked Fatima to Aaliyah.
“The Consort of the Arcane Grimoire.” The Crone’s eye fell on the staff. “I see you found your darkness. The Consort of the Airy Bow. And the Companion of the Watery Dagger. Six shall be one.”
“Six shall be one,” Christy muttered, leaning forward in her seat. “Is that literal or a metaphor?”
“You will have to figure that out,” the crone said, inclining her head.
The doors to the throne room opened and a young Jann entered, draped in yellow roles. He strode to the center of the throne room, his dark-brown face paling as he gazed up at Kyle. He fell to his knees before the throne. “Your Exaltedness, Sheikha Hawaa binti al-Si’lat requests an audience with you.”
Kyle flicked his eyes to Aaliyah. *She is the leader of the Si’lat.*
I thought women didn’t rule in your world?
*There are only female Si’lat,* Aaliyah answered in his mind. *They are all whores and never to be trusted.*
A beautiful woman in green silks strode in, mature and ripe, her breasts plainly visible through her silk top. A bevy of lush women trailed after her, all dark eyed and moving with inhuman grace. Kyle’s cock stirred as he stared at them.
“Greetings, Kyle Unmei,” the Sheikha purred. “We have much to discuss.”
Sahabah, The Hidden Realm
Rashid watched the graceful, dusky-skinned, Arab woman stride through his court towards his sapphire throne. Hecate’s servant had arrived to seal their alliance and aide him in Kyle’s destruction. Her feet echoed on the polished, blue floor. An insolent smile graced her lips and dark power radiated from her.
“Greetings, Sultan of the Hidden Peoples,” she bowed. “Hecate desires me to be your most humble servant until Kyle’s defeat. We have much to discuss.”
Rashid examined the woman. She had mature beauty, a hunger burning in her dark depths. Her clothing revealed much of her lush curves and her lips had a predator curl to them. Lust stirred in his loins. Centuries ago he had lost interest in his plethora of concubines and wives.
Some glamour of Hecate’s wards her, attracting my interest, Rashid mused.
“What makes you so effective against Kyle?” he asked, ignoring his lust. He was not so foolish to fall into such an obvious trap. “How will you kill him when others have failed?”
“I am Faiza Unmei.”
“Unmei? You are his kin?”
“His mother,” she grinned; he shivered, there was nothing warm, loving, or motherly in that smile—only the promise of death. “He could never raise a hand to me. He loves me.”
To be continued…
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