In a Bottle... Ch. 05

byZeban©

"I can bring back her memories and infuse them into another being that looks exactly like her, but her power will be vastly reduced from her original djinn form."

"If that is your best, then that is my desire," he said firmly before he could change his mind.

She nodded once and said, "I know that within your heart you desire nothing more than to bring Carmella back. This is your true desire and as such it is done."

Without pretense Carmella was suddenly there in the room with them. No blinding ray of light from the heavens, no mist like the first time she appeared, no shimmer -- just air one minute... a living, breathing body the next.

It shocked him at how quickly she just... existed. Alan doubted that it could be that easy. In fact, it probably wasn't. This couldn't be his Carmella. He didn't know anything about the kind of magic they had used to bring her back, but surely resurrecting a soul took more time and effort than that -- even a magic soul.

His mind reeled and jerked trying to accept and reject Carmella's presence simultaneously.

"How can I be sure that this isn't just an illusion very masterfully crafted by a genie? How do I know with irrefutable proof that this is Carmella?" he almost shouted glaring at the imposter in his living room. "My limited knowledge of magic is very capable of creating very convincing things almost exactly like this!"

"You cannot, I suppose. Your only choice is to believe that I would not act to deceive you when explaining how I fulfilled your desire. This is not an illusion but rather a combination of conjuration and many other types of magic. Although many misguided humans who delve into the vast subject of magic choose to believe that there is a necromantic type of magic, one does not exist. To return a soul to a living thing is not possible. Suffice to say that no type of magic has the power to interfere with the afterlife. Those who believe otherwise are merely denying the truth of their spells. Souls are transferrable, but not revivable. It is quite possible to animate an object, even a corpse, and make it move or speak. That does not give it the range of emotion and free will that were present in life.

"Carmella is entirely gone. She can never be remade in the exact same fashion without consulting both the one who brought her into existence and the thoughts that were going through your mind at the time of conception -- the very moment when you opened her containment chamber. The fact that she was a magical being makes it easier to make a likeness of her, but since your personality is adaptive, there is no way to revisit who you were. Many subtle things have changed in your life that would change how Carmella would become perfectly suited to you, not to mention the enormous affect her death would have in shaping her being." Lucky motioned to all of the djinni standing around him. "Look at how very different the four of us are, and three of us you brought forth mere minutes apart from each other."

Alan reprimanded himself for hoping that Carmella would ever be able to return to him. This was not what he had desired. What a waste of a wish. How could Lucky get things so wrong? Suddenly, Alan was feeling very spiteful.

"I thought you had to look into my heart to find my true desire?" he accused. "This is not what I wanted. This copy, or pseudo-Carmella, whatever you want to deem her."

"Master, I-" Lucky began, but uncharacteristically faltered for a moment. She seemed to be getting her thoughts in order. "But you did desire this. You do not want to think about her in that state any longer. You wanted her back and now she is. You were never interested in using her magical abilities. You wanted her for her personality and beauty. You wanted your friend back..."

"Master?" Carmella spoke for the first time since she had formed before him. "I will understand if you wish for me to leave you, after the grief that I have caused from my death, but listening to you talk about me as if I am still dead while I am right here in front of you is the worst punishment I could imagine. Being treated like a subservient arouses me, but being treated like a nothing crushes my spirit. I did not ask to be brought back. That was your choice."

She still had the same memories, idiosyncrasies, and appearance. For all intents and purposes, this was Carmella. How could he be this foolish on purpose? Alan tried to speak, but choked on a rather uncomfortable lump in his throat.

"...so you still remember?" he finally managed.

She gazed into his eyes trying to glean further meaning from them.

"You mean dying?"

"Yes."

She nodded solemnly.

"I knew what I was doing when I saved you, but I somehow still hoped that it would not mean my death. When I was being immolated, I was trying to tell you that you had no fault for being unable to rescue me from my demise. I did not want you to continue on with your life carrying such a burden. I still remember how it felt and I would do it again and again as many times as you brought me back if it meant I could keep you from experiencing that pain."

"That was not my intention. No one should have to remember that. Nor did I want to doubt your authenticity, but I couldn't handle being disappointed if it really wasn't you. Are you certain that you remember everything? You know, everything else... besides dying."

"From the moment you desired that we stay with you forever down to the intimate little details of our breakfasts." Her expression softened and he knew she was remembering.

At hearing this, Alan couldn't withhold his emotion any longer. He rushed over to Carmella and grasped her tightly. She quickly wrapped her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek.

"Thank you... for saving my life," he whispered through renewed tears. "But don't you dare do it again. I'm not losing any of you ever again. It is my turn to protect you. I need to step up and act like a real master."

Alan took a step back and looked at the other three genies meaningfully after wiping the glistening tears from his face. "That goes for the rest of you as well. All of you refer to me as your master, but I haven't been acting like a master. A true master is a guardian, a protector, a-" he paused and remembered what it was that Heather had told him. "A hero. I am done being protected. I won't let myself be put into a position to that degree of vulnerability ever again. I promise that if I ever use my ability to summon the harem again, it will not end with the sacrifice of a friend."

Alan decided that practicing alone would provide him with the fewest distractions so after a group hug, he told his genies that he would make some food in a little while when he got hungry and that he would be in his room until then.

Alan went back into his room and relaxed on his bed for a minute while he thought things over and calmed down a bit. He remembered the first time that he had used his magic sitting in this very spot. If he was to be a guardian, he would need to seriously practice getting quicker at thinking on his feet. He would need to master illusions through experience so he could react faster, more instinctually, to protect those that he loved.

He again tried to make the wall transparent, creating a field that encompassed both of the walls between his room and the genies'. He noticed that the amount of willpower he had to use to hold the enchantment was substantially less than it had been back then. Also, the enchantment seemed far more resilient and detailed whereas before the edges of the transparency had been fuzzy and undefined, now the inside of the wall was visible, as though someone had indeed cut their way through, wooden framing and all. Also, the air had a crisper look, not like the distorted warble of heat coming off of a fire that he had assumed was normal at the time.

Either he was getting better at this or his power was growing. He remembered Magik telling him that her power had been growing and that she hypothesized the reason was that his power was connected to her in some way and that he was becoming more powerful. Lucky had also confirmed what Magik said about magic being selfless in nature; that when he was using magic to benefit others, his spells would carry more substance.

He gazed into the room where his genies resided. They were all piled onto the bed chatting with Carmella. One big happy family -- more or less. Suddenly, Alan felt like the world's biggest dimwit. Why was she in there while he sat here keeping to himself?

Alan decided then that he had been wrong about where best to practice his magic. Turning into a hermit would make him a basket case in short order. Besides, what was the point of defending your loved ones if you never got to see them anyway? Alan knew that he could use the council of his djinni to guide him to becoming more adept and creative in his casting ability.

He dismissed his translucency enchantment, hopped up from his bed, and strode into the second bedroom across the hall, a smile stretching across his face.

There was nothing that said he had to practice magic on inanimate objects. He could make this practical and fun...

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