Part twenty-five of Misplaced Fire
Nesrin felt as if she were made of ice instead of fire when she looked at the lamp Ceylan had put in front of her. So vivid was the memory of her confinement that in an instant she was transported back to that moment in her mind. Everyone else only saw her standing still on the spot, eyes glued to the bottle, but Nesrin saw herself as only 238 years old again.
Again she was infiltrating Solomon’s palace on orders from Samira, searching for the bottles containing the Seven Kings, King Harun, and Mithal the Future Caliph. She had managed to send Samira eight of the nine bottles when she felt a lightning bolt strike the back of her skull. When she awoke on the floor the Traitor Whose Name We Don’t Use was kneeling beside her. Again Nesrin was looking up at the mask of makeup, and the blond hair and green eyes that had once both been purple.
The words of the Traitor still sounded clear as ever, but their tone had become more menacing with time. Translated, they said: ‘I have deadened your powers, Dear Cousin. You were foolish to use them in service of the drunken fools in those bottles. They had sworn our race’s loyalty to the King for all time; those who break such oaths deserve the punishment they receive.’
‘Solomon broke faith with us first, when he imprisoned one of our people without trial and without the counsel of the Seven Kings. That negates his rule over us.’
‘The one the King imprisoned was a petty thief who deserved justice, and the Seven Kings gave up their right to judge in such matters because they were over-awed by the thought of a human who could match our people in wisdom and riches. Nesrin, foolish attempts to avenge those former kings are why the King considers our people untrustworthy and has begun shutting them in darkness. I have not told him of your presence yet. You still have a chance to regain your freedom if you turn away from your poor judgement and become my servant.’
‘I would rather spend the rest of natural time in cramped darkness.’
Finally the wretch stood. With a nod they bound Nesrin in chains to the floor and began walking toward the door.
In Nesrin’s mind she yelled as she had on that ancient day, but those on the outside only heard mumbling. ‘Lock me in any bottle you choose. Mother is amassing an army and coming to end this even now. She will see me released before I have experienced confinement a week.’
She had, in the end, experienced confinement one thousand years, and Samira had nothing to do with her freedom. Many times Nesrin had wondered if her youthful boastfulness had given the Enemy time to prepare and been the reason Samira had lost her first battle as Queen.
The flashback lasted little more than a few seconds. Nesrin snatched the lamp from Ceylan and smashed it against a piece of rock. “It was worth the risk then and it is worth the risk now.”
Ceylan spun Nesrin around by the shoulders to make her look her in the eye. “If you miss your mark this time it won’t mean a mere thousand years in a lamp. It’ll mean the Palace of Mirrors.”
Nesrin vanished anyway.
Continued next week
Link to previous installments: https://anindeterminatenumberofnights.blog/category/misplaced-fire/