“The very thought is absurd. In millennia of ruling Mother has never done anything like what she’s accused of unprovoked.”
“She hasn’t, but the other rulers have, and the see everything through their own lens.”
Nesrin still wasn’t happy about having to impersonate Samira, especially not when she was on trial. Ceylan had just gotten her up to speed on the politics of their people, and their defense for the less than ethical actions Samira was accused of – which was to tell the truth, since she was innocent. Now they just had to wait for the remaining five rulers to arrive. Nesrin was still in her hidden one form, and was already getting tired of it. Isabelle and Jason had looked for a corner to stay in, but the room was a circle, so the plan to stay out of the way hadn’t worked.
Isabelle hated to break their concentration, but also couldn’t take the silence anymore, so she ventured to ask “Why did the other tribes split from your mother’s rule?”
It was Ceylan who answered. “As my sister has no doubt told you, we are most often called ‘genies’ in your society. She and I consider the term a corruption of ‘jinn’ or ‘jinni,’ which can loosely be translated into your language as ‘hidden ones.’ Perhaps you will think, as I do, that this is an ambiguous term. Indeed, I say it is not only ambiguous, but overly human-centric, since we are not hidden except from humans, but I digress. Many types of beings can properly call themselves hidden from humans, and the name has been applied to more than one of them. As a result, humans remain somewhat in disagreement about where our people originated and what type of being we truly are. Sadly, this confusion exists among our own people as well. I call us what the Scroll of the Story calls us; ashrook, or spirits of fire, distinct from other types of hidden beings like angels and demons. Those who agree submit to Mother’s rule. Those who disagree…”
Further discussion was cut off as two tall figures came into the room. They were both made of fire, and both had feet and claws that looked like rooster feet, but one was dark orange and the other was light blue. Ceylan bowed and retreated to where Isabelle and Jason were standing behind Nesrin. She whispered “The blue one is Narong; the orange one is Choshech.”
Nesrin’s eyes narrowed. “Tiv enpenst Augusti, Lilit, iw Cassim?”
Jason whispered to Ceylan. “What did she say?”
Ceylan leaned closer to him. “We were expecting five rulers and got two. She asked where the others are using the common language of our people.”
Narong advanced towards Nesrin. “Eleot envorq notive, xyq eleot penstwex ensha valaosdid sqwel eto kal ele okzaxenfo eto zeft oou tuw eto elnis.”
Ceylan explained. “He said the others are engaged elsewhere, but their presence isn’t needed to inform Mother that they are forcing her to step down for her crimes.”
The argument continued with Ceylan translating.
Choshech said “You have appeared in the form of a jann to our subjects multiple times stirring up turmoil. Each time you were found out. Each time you confessed your identity and threatened to use the superior size and power of your kingdom against us if we should attempt retribution. Do you deny it?”
Nesrin said “Yes, I deny it. It is true I can shift my form more easily than most, and because of this I can be impersonated more easily than most. I demand the opportunity to investigate this matter myself and present a case in my defense. I would extend the same right to any of you were you in my place.”
Narong sneered. “The millennia have dulled your mind. You confuse this for the courts of your human husbands. The other rulers are already preparing to release King Harun to stand in your place once we have you in chains.”
Nesrin moved so that her attackers couldn’t see her sister and friends.
Ceylan heard Nesrin’s voice in her head saying “Take them and check on Mother’s storehouse.” She grabbed Isabelle and Jason’s arms and they faded out of the room. They reappeared on top of a mile-high mountain of rubies with gold trees. The sky above them was a ceiling of marble. “Mother is called ‘Jailer of the Seven Kings and King Harun’ for a reason. They’re former rulers of our people who were imprisoned during the Great Capturing. She keeps their bottles in a diamond chest inside a vault inside a cave on this mountain. We need to make sure they haven’t been tampered with. Stick close and I’ll get you past the booby traps.”
Isabelle and Jason glanced at each other and followed her.