Audience Participation

Eyes of Samira.jpg

Part sixteen of Misplaced Fire

There were footsteps behind them. The man from the shop was now on the roof. Nesrin and Ceylan’s eyes turned black, Dinah showed her fangs, and Aravis huffed through her nose and stomped her foot.

The man said, in a woman’s voice, “I see we’re nearing a boiling point.”

The group became like stones as they watched flames flare up around the man and Samira’s prefered human form appear when they died. She was a few inches taller than all of them, but otherwise the family resemblance was clear, especially between her and Ceylan, since they shared a hair color.

Samira held a hand out. “I’m sure you are tired of the stress brought on by carrying that bracelet.”

Nesrin extended the bracelet for her to take. Nesrin kept grasping it for just a moment after Samira grabbed it. A subtle hint of a look from her Mother and Queen made Nesrin’s hand release. Samira’s eyes glowed gold and she waved the thing away.

“Thank you for finding it, Dears. Allow me to show my gratitude by answering at least one of your questions. You needn’t search for a thief; I have come to the conclusion that Patanī himself moved the bracelet from within.”

Ceylan shook her head. “Highness, that would be…”

“Impossible? Because all that remains of him is the genetic material encased in a lump of inanimate, if vegetative, flame? It was from such a lump ripped from the side of King Harun that Patanī and I were born to begin with. Patanī told me once that he literally thought with his heart and his stomach…”

Dinah broke in. “Many times you have told us those organs are not present in full jinn.”

Samira’s subtle hint of a look returned. “A mere shorthand to express the concept, but there are matters more pressing than philosophical biology. You’ll have to keep a closer watch on the new initiates, and perhaps increase your lessons, something I hope you can concentrate more on now that the bracelet is dealt with. Ceylan, I want you to stay here guiding the process until further notice. Now, will you retrieve the mountain or will I?”

Her descendants held a nonverbal conference communicated through facial expressions before replying in unison, “We will.”

“As you wish, but remember that I am watching from the background if things get unruly.”

She disappeared.

Before Nesrin could start swearing, Ceylan summoned a lodestone map and a black marble bowl like the one Nesrin had used to find Dinah’s liogon. “We better get after them, huh?”

Nesrin summoned the ceramic restaurant from Isabelle’s village and a squirrel figurine from Jason’s room. She sat them in the bowl and folded her arms. Dinah rolled her eyes and put her hands in the water. The map lit up on southern Mississippi and the bowl projected a scene of the mountain floating above a shipyard. Jason and Isabelle were sitting on the edge at the bottom looking down at the boats.

“Well,” said Aravis, “their sense of direction’s gotten marginally better.”


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