Jonathan was the first to ask the obvious question. “So could you give us unlimited wealth or anything like that?” He never could be subtle.
“In a way, in a way not. A jinn does not magically create wealth. Any treasure we give to a person comes from our own storehouses. By your standards my resources may indeed be called unlimited, but they are not such in the truest sense of the word. In the same way, I would not be able to make a mansion appear out of thin air, but I could certainly build one in what you would call the blink of an eye.”
“Is that why you couldn’t zap yourself out of the bottle,” Jonathan asked, “because you aren’t really all powerful?”
Gobelen hung his head. “I could not release myself because the bottle was sealed in lead with the signet of Solomon.”
The question sent his mind back to that day, when he’d uttered the words that had led to his downfall, and, he would find out later, the greatest tragedy of the jinn.
He’d shot out of the palace in the form of a lightning bolt and appeared in the house of his human companion, Japeth. In his anger he’d forgotten to maintain his human appearance, and his third fiery eye was blazing on his chin. ‘I shall kill him, I swear it by all the bodies of heaven.’
Japeth had tried to guide him towards a chair. ‘Be calm and consider what you are saying.’ He’d looked towards the window and whispered the rest. ‘Surely you do not intend to kill the King. You are speaking without thought.’
‘Like Gehenna I am! If he knew whose powers he had insulted he would cower before me and beg my forgiveness. One more disgrace from that man and I shall…’
‘This is the price you pay for wishing to appear human. Did you not choose to hide yourself in humility? Why then do you object when you receive the treatment of the station you chose?’
At that Gobelen had composed himself and taken his seat. ‘Yes, you have the right of it. Forgive me, I forget myself.’
However, he had not seen Withanni concealing himself in the walls of the house, grinning as he conceived the ideal disaster for removing his rival.