Laresa's World Ch. 24: JonathonbyDarkniciad©
"I'm no demon, come to seduce you and steal your soul," Laresa explained, cutting through some of the annoying questions she frequently had to answer for a new Master. "I am a genie, and I will grant your wishes, within limits, for so long as you possess my ring, and do not break the rules. I cannot hurt you, and in fact, I am bound to protect you as well as I am able. None can hear us now, thanks to my magic, so you may speak freely."
Jonathon opened his mouth a few times as if to speak, but his brow furrowed in frustration – absolutely nothing appropriate coming to mind. At last, something popped into his head, and he asked, "What did you say your name was?"
Laresa smiled, thinking things weren't starting off too badly. After her recent nightmare, she was glad to be outside her ring in the world again. "My name is Laresa, Master."
"I'm no Master, I'm just an orphan," Jonathon responded, shrugging his shoulders.
"Well, you are my Master, because you have my ring. Shall I call you something else?"
"My name is Jonathon," he replied.
"Jonathon, then. So, what can I do for you, Jonathon?" Since the tedious details of introduction were now over, Laresa studied her new Master. Almost immediately, she felt desire swell within her. Jonathon was very fit – something that was quite easy to see, since he was naked from the waist up. Shoulder length, sandy-blonde hair framed his chiseled features, softened by a cast of kindness that made him all the more handsome. A quick glance also revealed quite an interesting bulge below his waist. Though Laresa had known many men since becoming Djinn, Jonathon certainly ranked amongst the most gorgeous she could remember. She had to fight against a quiver of excitement threatening to make her visibly shiver.
Jonathon laughed nervously, and replied, "Uhm, I don't know."
Already deciding that she liked the charming young man, Laresa thought to see if she could win some points – and possibly some free will – by giving him all the necessary information that would keep him from accidentally breaking the rules. "Let me explain the rules to you, Jonathon – if that's all right with you?"
His manners suddenly springing to the forefront, Jonathon said, "That is fine. Would you like to sit down?"
"Thank you, Jonathon," Laresa replied, and sat down on his bed. A slight smile twitched her lips when she saw him blush, and heard him thinking about such a beautiful woman sitting on his bed. "Now, the first rule is you cannot lie to me, nor can I lie to you..."
Laresa managed to coax the exhausted young man to sit next to her after a while, explaining the rules of her service, and her limitations, in detail. She could tell he was fighting off sleep, and losing the battle rapidly.
"I don't know how I'm going to explain you," Jon muttered.
"Remember, none can see or hear me – save you – unless you wish it, Jonathon," Laresa reminded him.
"I forgot," Jon said with a shrug, and then yawned again. "I'm going to feel terrible all day after being up so late."
"I can ensure you are fully rested in even a short time, if you so wish, Jonathon," Laresa suggested.
Raising his eyebrows, and tilting his head to the side a little, Jonathon said, "Well, I guess that's as good a wish as any. If all this is real, it would sure be nice to wake up not feeling like a whipped dog."
"Rest then, Jonathon. You will feel as though you have slept all night when you awaken."
"I don't think I have much choice – I can't keep my eyes open."
Pushing him gently, feeling a tingle between her legs when her fingers brushed up against his muscled chest, Laresa said, "Sleep, then."
Jonathon nodded, and lay down. He drifted off to sleep almost immediately. Rather than return to her ring, not wanting to face the possibility of another nightmare until she had no choice, Laresa instead reached out with her senses, discovering what she could about this place, and the other people in the castle.
Laresa's psychic exploration proved to be something rather unpleasant at first. The cook, a central figure in Jonathon's life, was a surly, bitter woman. His adopted father thought more of the family hounds than of the orphan he'd taken in. Worst of all was Kain, who harbored a seething hatred toward the foundling.
There were a few spots of light, however. Esmarelda, Jonathon's adopted mother, loved him as if he were her own. She feared to show it, however, because of the way her husband treated her when she did. Michael, who would be returning to resume command of another castle's garrison in the morning, felt much the same as Esmarelda.
What Jonathon's adopted cousin felt went beyond mere familial love, however. Even the experienced Djinn felt color rising in her cheeks when she brushed up against Caroline's thoughts. Not having been raised in the castle with Jonathon, and knowing he was not a blood relative, Caroline paid little thought to taboo when she considered Jonathon. Laresa could certainly understand Caroline's desire for the handsome young man, because it mirrored Laresa's feelings.
Laresa only realized she was caught up in Caroline's fantasy and arousal when she nearly climaxed, even as Caroline did so on her flashing fingers. Letting out a quiet, quavering sigh, Laresa clenched her intimate muscles and tried to clear her mind. She wished she'd not fallen into the young woman's thoughts so deeply – or had given in to them fully – because now she sat intensely aroused, and unsatisfied.
Laresa fought down the temptation to take care of her own needs with her fingers, returning to her scan of the castle – somewhat reluctantly. The rest of the castle's inhabitants thought of Jonathon as a member of the family, although they did their best to keep it hidden. Kelanor noticed when the servants treated Jonathon with extra respect, and usually found odious tasks for them when they did.
Laresa nearly returned to Kelanor, to delve deeper into his thoughts, but decided against it. She didn't feel up to exploring the ambitious man's dark mind any more this evening.
The first rays of the sun streaming through a window alerted her that it was actually no longer evening, but morning. Jonathon roused even as she realized it, stretching and sitting up. Laresa licked her lips, watching the play of his powerful muscles as he stretched. He was truly a remarkable man.
Jonathon chuckled. "I suppose you are real. I feel as if I slept the whole night through."
"Did you truly doubt it, Jonathon?" The amusement in Laresa's words came through quite well.
"Actually, no – but it is nice to know for sure." Jonathon threw off the covers, but realizing he was clad in only his trousers, he quickly jerked the bedclothes back over him, searching for his shirt on the floor.
Laresa wiggled her fingers, and the shirt magically hovered up to hang in the air before Jonathon. "Thank you," he said, and then struggled to dress beneath the covers.
Laresa smiled, stifling a chuckle, and turned away to reduce his self-conscious feelings. "I've seen a bare-chested man before, you know. It's hardly indecent, Jonathon. It's rather common, actually."
"I know, I just... well..."
Laresa did chuckle this time. "It's okay, I understand. So, have you thought of something you might want to wish for?"
Now dressed, Jonathon rose from the bed and said, "I was thinking about what you said, and I think I want to wish for you to have free will. I can tell you really want it, and I don't feel right ordering you around, anyway."
Laresa felt the wish take hold. "Thank you, Jonathon. It really makes me happy that you did that for me. A happy genie is a good genie, so you should keep me happy." A little more of Laresa's desire crept into those words than she'd planned, and so she clamped her mouth tightly shut. She really wanted to push Jonathon back into the bed, and tear his clothing right back off of him.
Jonathon laughed, "I wish it worked that way around here. I think they apply quite the opposite to the servants around here."
"Why do they treat you like one of the servants? Were you not adopted into the family?" Laresa more or less knew the answer lay in Kelanor, but she wanted to see what Jonathon thought about the matter.
Jonathon shrugged. "I'm just an orphan. I'm lucky to have a place at all. I'm treated well, and I do okay."
"Perhaps you wish that you were treated more like family..." Laresa paused when a thought popped into Jonathon's head. Acting on that thought, she said, "Or you wish to know your real family."
"How did you..." Jonathon stopped, remembering his conversation with the Djinn the previous evening. "Oh, yes, you can hear my thoughts. I do wish I knew my real family. All I know is that they died, and I'm the only one who survived, because my mother hid me away."
"I could show you, Jonathon."
"I need to go start my chores, or I'll get demerits, and have more chores to do," Jonathon said, shaking his head sadly.
"Oh," Laresa said, waving her hand in a dismissive gesture. "I can take us outside the flow of time, show you what you want to see, and return us here only a moment after we left." Seeing the confusion in Jonathon's eyes, Laresa smiled and simplified her offer. "I can show you, and it will only take a second. Nobody will have time to miss you, and you won't lose any time to do your chores."
"Oh, okay," Jonathon said with a note of excitement in his voice. "I really would like to know what they looked like – what kind of people they were."
"Take my hands, and close your eyes," Laresa instructed.
Jonathon did so, and Laresa slipped them outside time, into the space between moments. Reaching out, she searched the time stream for him, locating him at the moment of his birth, with his mother and father.
Laresa could feel the surge of emotion from Jonathon when he beheld his parents. Jonathon could be a twin of his father, and his mother was a breathtakingly beautiful blonde woman.
"Jonathon, his name should be Jonathon."
Smiling at her husband, Gwen agreed, "That is a wonderful name, Dear." She looked down at the babe in her arms, and asked, "Do you like your name, Jonathon?"
The babe smiled, drawing a laugh from both his mother and father. "He looks just like you, Robert."
The midwife finished cleaning up Gwen, and then said, "I'll go tell everyone there is an heir within the castle, Sir Robert."
Robert beamed, telling the young woman, "Add that there will be a great celebration as well, for everyone who lives under my protection. We will give the entire land a reason to feel joy, even as we do."
The vision continued, showing Jonathon his parents doting on him – as well as everyone else in the castle. The promised celebration came into the vision, and it revealed that the people who lived under the protection of Sir Robert's castle were likewise joyful for Jonathon's birth.
A thought crept into Jonathon's mind, causing Laresa to swallow nervously. She asked him mentally, Are you sure you want to see that Jonathon? I could find out, and just let you know, rather than showing you how your parents died.
I need to know – I need to see, Jonathon replied.
Very well, Laresa acknowledged, and searched the flow of time for that tragic event.
The group of highwaymen was large, and unusually well armed. They blocked the road, both ahead and behind, and Robert could see the movement of many more men in the shadowed forest to either side.
"What 'ave we here, a rich one, no doubt. We'll have us plenty of good silver and gold, and a ride on the pretty lady, I'm thinking," one of the thieves said, obviously some sort of leader.
"Protect my wife and child, at all costs," Robert whispered to the man next to him, though the order was unnecessary. Robert silently cursed himself for undertaking this journey with so few men, but he could have never known such a large group of murderous thieves would invade his lands.
"The only thing you shall gain, should you not stand down and flee immediately, is a painful death," Robert warned, sliding his sword from its sheathe. Around him, his ten fellow knights did likewise. They were all well trained, and wearing fine armor, but they knew the highwaymen would have bows. If those weapons were such that could pierce armor...
"Fool – wearing all that metal must soften your 'eads. We'll fill the lot of you with arrows, unless you give us what we want. We might even let you live," the spokesman for the thieves taunted.
Hidden from view, lying down in the small wagon she rode in, Gwen silently moved a pair of boards, revealing a hidden compartment. Usually used to hide valuables, it would now hide the most precious thing Gwen possessed, her two-year-old son. "Stay in there, and be very quiet Jonathon. Mother will be right out here. Pretend you are playing hide and go seek."
The little boy nodded, rolling into the hidden compartment. Gwen replaced the cover, praying it would protect the child, should the worst come to pass.
"Enough talking, stand and deliver – or we'll be taking what we want by walking over your corpses," the thief challenged.
The knights answered with nothing more than a warrior's salute of their swords, and silence.
The knights fought valiantly, but they were greatly outnumbered. Some few of the thieves did possess good bows, and several knights fell to well placed arrows. Soon, only Sir Robert and another knight remained, protecting Lady Gwen to their dying breath, if necessary. Though nearly a dozen of the marauders lie dead or dying, the two knights stood little chance, and they knew it.
"Sir Robert, look," the second knight said, gesturing toward the top of a hill nearby.
"Praise be to God, Sir Kelanor," Robert whispered. Kelanor was lord of neighboring lands, and an ally. Surely, he would come to their rescue.
The brigands attacked, and the pair of remaining knights fought now not only with the strength of desperation, but with hope as well. The knights were too close to the woman the thieves desired, so the highwaymen dared not fire any arrows, for risk of killing her. Thus, they approached to face the knights in hand-to-hand combat.
Though facing as many as three opponents at once, Robert and his fellow knight gave a remarkable accounting of themselves. Blood soaked the grass as thieves went down – cut by the bright steel of the valiant knights. Robert risked a glance during a momentary lull, his eyes widening when he saw that Kelanor and his men had not moved.
Robert felt his strength failing, and seeing that no help was forthcoming further weakened him. Still, he fought with all his might, praying that perhaps Kelanor had other men sneaking around, dealing with the thieves in the woods, who would attack at any moment.
Gwen knew the situation was hopeless. She did not even notice Kelanor's men atop the hill ahead, and saw only her husband and his fellow facing an endless stream of thieves. Drawing a knife from her husband's belongings, Gwen cut open a few bags that contained valuables, hoping to distract the thieves when the inevitable happened. She prayed that seeing the gold and silver would keep them from looking harder, and discovering the hidden compartment. When her husband fell, she planned an additional concealment for her most precious possession.
Robert fell to his knees. A deep sword thrust had penetrated the chain mail shielding his armpit, and reached his lung. He looked up at the top of the hill, mouthing the word, "Why," at the still unmoving Kelanor.
An instant later, he knew no more, as blackness swept over him. He collapsed atop his fellow knight, leaving Gwen and Jonathon unprotected.
"Now we'll have us some fun," one of the surviving thieves said, sheathing his sword and drawing a dagger instead. "I gets first ride," he added, jumping up into the wagon.
As soon as the man appeared above her, Gwen said, "You will not have me, foul thief." With those words, she thrust a dagger into her heart.
"Damn, she went and stabbed herself," the thief growled. He sheathed his dagger and shrugged, adding with a laugh, "Still warm, though."
Laresa pulled away from the scene as the thief ripped the bodice of Gwen's dress, untying the knot on his own breeches at the same time. She quickly moved toward the men atop the hill, feeling her anger rise to match Jonathon's.
Though the man was younger, there could be no doubt it was Jonathon's adopted father. Genie and foundling watched as the men conferred, waiting until the thieves were completely distracted, before riding in to cut down those who yet lived. They watched in horror as Kelanor contemplated killing the crying Jonathon, only deciding to take him in and hide him away after a long battle with his conscience.
Worse still were the shouts of betrayal from the thieves as they were cut down, revealing that Kelanor knew this attack was going to happen, and had in fact orchestrated it. The cold-hearted Kelanor revealed that he would now possess the castle and lands of Sir Robert – the very same castle in which his son Michael now resided.
Laresa returned them both to real time, the tears in her eyes matched by those in Jonathon's. Likewise, both genie and man felt their cheeks flushing hot with anger.
"I'm sorry, Jonathon," Laresa said in a tightly controlled voice.
"There is no need to apologize. I know one of those men who rode with my... with Kelanor – the one who argued for my life. Take me to him, now, please. He resides in a town nearby."
"Of course, Jonathon," Laresa responded, immediately bringing her power to bear.
Present Day –
Headquarters of the Society of Djinn
"Daron should maintain possession of the artifact, until you can come to some sort of decision. There will be suspicion if his containment box is found with another," Benjamin argued.
After a few moments of bickering, the group came to an agreement. "Very well, we agree on this," Geoffrey said, at last.
Benjamin nodded. "I suggest we return to our normal tasks immediately, before we rouse suspicion with our gathering alone."
Murmurs of agreement spread through the gathered Society members, and they all moved to leave the room, going their separate ways.
Benjamin and Daron were amongst the last two to leave. When they emerged in the hall, Benjamin stopped Daron. "Please – come with me to my room again?"
Sighing, Daron agreed, following Benjamin down the hall.
Back in the Dark Ages...
Outside the old, retired knight's home, Jonathon's anger cooled. The old man had tears in his eyes, and Laresa had revealed to him that the man's sorrow was genuine.
Sir Brendon placed his hand on Jonathon's shoulder, saying in a quavering voice, "I'm so sorry, Jon. I had no choice – or thought I didn't. I know now that I was but a coward. I will tell all that I know. This crime must not go unpunished."
Jonathon sighed. "Thank you, Brendon. I know your words served to spare my life, and I thank you for that."
Gesturing, the old knight said, "Come, there is more." He hobbled toward a tumbledown shed beside his home. He turned for a moment, gesturing again when Jonathon didn't move.
Jonathon followed, the invisible Djinn at his side. "He speaks truly still, Jonathon. He has your father's sword and armor hidden in that shed. Kelanor told him to destroy them, but he could not bring himself to do so."
Brendon presented Jonathon with the sword and armor, once again apologizing for his cowardice. Jonathon reassured the old man that he harbored no ill will toward him, and then left with his father's armaments.