Laresa's World Ch. 15: AaronbyDarkniciad©
This chapter turned out quite a bit longer than I thought it would. It only crosses over to the final page by a bit, I hope the story keeps you reading despite the daunting list of page numbers at the bottom.
Inca Ruins, Peru — 2001
"We're close, Aaron."
The old man held his hands out before him, moving them slightly back and forth, slowly homing in on something. At last, he steadied his hands, opened his eyes and smiled. Letting the gray stone cupped between his palms slide into one hand, he nodded in the direction the stone indicated.
His younger companion grunted to acknowledge the nod, nervously tousling his mop of brown hair, and then set off to match the brisk pace of his mentor. Aaron thought, The old goat gets along pretty well for his age. I'd better keep that in mind.
They moved carefully through the ruins, doing their best to avoid leaving any sign of their passage. The vine-choked, crumbling stone structures around them were not so remote, and they certainly did not want some local who wandered into the area to discover them. The weather was miserable, a light, cold drizzle drifting down from a deep gray sky, making the broken stones underfoot slippery and more treacherous than they would be normally.
The old man lifted his hand suddenly, his eyes going wide, and turned to gesture impatiently to the younger, before hurrying behind a wall that looked the same as every other that they had passed. When Aaron walked around the stone, he found his old teacher kneeling on the ground, the hand containing the gray stone pressed against the earth.
"It's here, Aaron. It is buried right here. Get out the shovel, our quest is nearly over. Whom have we found, I wonder. Horace? Laresa? Mayesra? Such prizes remain! We stand to gain much honor when we return, should we bear one of the elusive prizes that have never been in our possession, or one of those that has escaped us..."
Aaron rolled his eyes while the old man rambled, taking off his pack to retrieve the folding camp shovel inside. He hoped the damn artifact wasn't buried too deep, or they could be here for hours slogging through the mud, sifting through water filling up the hole. The old man knew this weather was coming, and had insisted on leaving for the ruins anyway. Once he had the scent, he was impossible to shake, no matter the logic or common sense involved in any argument against it.
"Right there, where your hand is, Wallace?" Aaron waited for his old mentor to stop babbling for a moment, and then repeated the question.
"Oh, oh yes! Right here. Hmm, the rain could be a problem. The ground is rather saturated. I fear the hole might fill with water as we dig it."
No shit, you geriatric old coot, Aaron thought. "I told you we should have waited until this was over and it dried out."
"Perhaps, but we'll see if we can't find it now, and return later if necessary. We can always cover this spot with some stones; it's in the shadows and..."
"Wallace, I need to get in there, if you want me to dig."
Chuckling, the old man rose up from his knees and moved out of the way. Aaron squatted down, pushing the tip of the shovel into the ground with his foot, and started moving earth.
Aaron ground his teeth in frustration as the hole reached about two feet deep. He was pulling out as much water as mud with every shovelful now, and doubted that they would get anywhere near the prize that Wallace was sure was buried here.
Then his shovel hit something solid, and metallic.
Great excitement in his voice, Wallace hurried over, dropping to his hands and knees next to the hole, "Did you find something?"
Aaron carefully stabbed the shovel into the water at the bottom of the hole again, and yet another metallic clink greeted them. "I think so."
Moving the shovel around, Aaron managed to find the edges of something, and started prying with his shovel. He could feel give, and pried hard, a sucking sound rewarding him as the water level in the hole dropped, the liquid filling the void left by the prize, now barely visible through the muck.
Wallace reached down and grabbed the box, drawing it up out of the water with a laugh. He turned it over and over, wiping away mud and examining it. "It appears to be intact, and well sealed." He reached into his pocket and held the grey stone very near the box, "If this is not one of the artifacts we seek, it is surely something of great power."
"So, open it," Aaron impatiently suggested.
"Oh, of course, yes. Hmm, it appears to be sealed with lead. I believe we'll have to return to civilization to open this."
Great, just great! Aaron thought, but then said aloud, "At least we can get in out of this fucking weather."
"Where is your spirit of adventure, Aaron?"
"It drowned," Aaron muttered as he tried to wipe some of the mud off his shovel.
Laresa roused slightly, sensing that her ring was close to someone again — and moving.
She didn't know how long it had been since she was last summoned. She slept often, rousing only for short periods, as she always did whenever long periods passed between Masters. She had known her last Master for only moments. Almost as soon as she appeared, he crossed himself and ordered her to go away.
Laresa smoothed back her silvery hair, her back arching as she stretched, causing the rosy tips of her firm breasts to press against the silken gown she wore. She shivered and let out a little moan, pressing a petite hand over her sex, vestiges of a dream still sparking arousal within her.
She felt the presence of a second person, also close to her ring. A mixture of anticipation and trepidation flowed through her, as she hoped to see the world outside again, but wondered what type of Master would summon her this time.
For now, her ring was still only close to someone, and not yet on anyone's finger, so she drifted off to sleep amongst her cushions.
Once again, her dreams were bittersweet glimpses of a life returned to the flow of time, of being human. For so long, such thoughts had never crossed her mind, but that was changing. So many times recently, her Masters had given her tastes of free will, and of humanity, awakening desires within her, unfelt for eons.
Laresa smiled in her sleep, even as her heart ached.
"Crude, yes, but someone went to a great deal of trouble to seal this. Surely, we shall find something remarkable. It can only be one of the artifacts we seek..."
The urge for Aaron to roll his eyes was nearly overwhelming. Blah, blah, blah! Shut up and open it!
"Ah, there we are!" Aaron stepped over to look over Wallace's shoulder, just as eager to see what was inside as his mentor. As Wallace opened the box, a folded, yellowed piece of paper met both their eyes.
Wallace pulled out the paper, revealing something wrapped in undyed cloth, which was just as yellowed as the paper. Aaron clenched his teeth, fighting the urge to scream, as Wallace opened the brittle paper to see if there was anything written upon it.
"My, my, whoever sealed this believed they had found something dire indeed. The note says that the devil is in this box, and it should be buried far from man, never to see the light of day again."
Aaron rolled his eyes, "Superstitious fools."
Carefully folding the note and putting it off to the side, Wallace admonished, "We simply fear what we do not understand, and most are quite unfamiliar with the Djinn, Aaron. Now, let us see what was so frightening to our friend who wrote the note."
Aaron's skin tingled as Wallace removed the small cloth-wrapped bundle from the box, and started to unwrap it. Come on already, this isn't a damn dig! Aaron silently fumed, frustrated by the meticulous care his mentor was taking with the object. Becoming archaeologists was useful to cover their true purpose, but Aaron thought Wallace took that part of his life far too seriously.
Finally, the cloth parted, revealing a ring. Aaron recognized the crafting, and he knew it was one of the objects they sought. At long last, they had found the home of a genie.
Wallace turned the ring over in his fingers, a wide smile on his face, "Gold band with an amber stone, crafted by our ancestors, certainly." Turning to Aaron, he held the ring up, "I'll have to check the database, but I'm almost certain this is the artifact to which Laresa is bound! Truly a remarkable find! She is one of the few who has never been located. We have come so close, only to find the ring missing so many times."
"You're certain, then?"
"Oh, absolutely! I cannot say that it is indeed our long-lost Laresa without checking the database, but it is without a doubt the home of a Djinn." Wallace laughed, all his long years of searching now fulfilled in the ring he held between his fingers.
An expression of surprise and pain crossed Wallace's face as the knife plunged with expert skill between the slats of his chair, and into his back. The ring fell with a clatter from his nerveless fingers as he mouthed the word why to his apprentice of almost a decade.
Aaron ignored the sound of his mentor's head falling against the desk, bending to pick up the ring. "You're all a bunch of decrepit fools. We could have gathered all the Djinn years ago if you addle-brained old men hadn't forbidden us to use the artifacts to do it. I'm done with you, and I'm done with the Society."
Holding up the ring, he smiled and said to it, "Now, let's just check the database, and see if the old codger was right. I want to make sure of what I'm getting into before I put you on."
Aaron sat tapping the desk with a finger, staring at the laptop monitor, two entries from the database opened side-by-side on the screen.
Looks like you're right, old man. We have found Laresa. I'm sure the Society would have been very pleased. Too bad they'll never see her.
Clicking on the other entry, labeled Nathifa, he scrolled down and read the entry again with a smile. One of the first Djinn to be located by the Society, she would have little experience with her powers. The information also provided the perfect means to stifle her, to ensure that she never discovered how to utilize her powers deceptively.
Returning to Laresa's entry, he narrowed his eyes. You are an entirely different matter, my dear. Though the Society had never located her, they had managed to gather a great deal of information about her. One thing was certain: she did know how to manipulate a Master's wishes when it suited her.
Minimizing the database windows, Aaron opened a text editor and started to plan his words carefully, ensuring that Laresa would find no means to twist the wishes he planned to make.
Laresa started awake, knowing the sensation of her ring sliding on to someone's finger. She reached down and felt her tummy with a sigh. In the dream, from which she had just been awakened, a babe had rested there, beneath her heart.
Sitting up, Laresa felt power flowing through her, awakened by the touch of a human hand. Anxious anticipation permeated her, as she wondered when she would be summoned, and what type of Master would greet her upon emergence from the ring.
Then came the familiar tug, and she dissolved into wisps of smoke, to coalesce once more in the outside world.
"Welcome, Laresa. This is the year two-thousand-one, and we are in the country of Peru. My name is Aaron, but you will call me Master."
Laresa stared at the man who wore her ring, startled as he greeted her, just as she was about to greet him and explain her presence.
Aaron laughed, "Surprised, are we? Let's get something out of the way right now. I wish that you have no access to my thoughts or desires, knowing only what I choose to tell you in word or thought. I wish that you fulfill all of my wishes exactly as spoken, taking no liberties to improve upon them. Finally, I wish that you warn me of any danger to my person, my plans, or my possessions — immediately — and otherwise speak in my presence only when spoken to, or to acknowledge fulfilling a wish."
Laresa's mind reeled as she felt those wishes bind her. The man's features looked much like those of her people, and he seemed to know as much about her as she did about herself. It was obvious that he planned to grant her nothing resembling free will, and that did not sit well with her. She acknowledged his wishes curtly, her face flat and emotionless.
He continued, "Now, when I give you a command, you will treat it as a wish. I don't feel like rattling off the words I wish every time I need you to do something. You will also answer any question I ask you. I know you can't lie to me, but you'll do your best to avoid answering me if you can. Don't doubt that I'll know when you're trying to avoid the question."
He gestured, and Laresa turned to see the corpse of an old man, slumped over a table with a knife in his back. Aaron told her, "Get the Finder's Stone out of his pocket, and give it to me."
Fear knotted Laresa's stomach. She didn't need an explanation to know what had happened. Her new Master had killed this man, in cold blood, and left him crumpled unceremoniously where he had died. Laresa could sense that the murder had occurred hours ago.
Even if the object did not have the same name, she would have recognized the magical power of the Finder's Stone. It was not the same one she remembered, but its powers were duplicated in this item. Willing the stone into her hand, she walked over and handed it to her Master.
"Good, now dispose of the body, somewhere where he will never be found by anyone. Clean up the blood too."
"Yes, Master," Laresa replied, and sent the body to a cave deep beneath the earth, one with no exit to the surface. It was the closest thing to dignity she could offer the man, while still fulfilling Aaron's wish.
A few more wishes followed. He ordered her to make sure his laptop battery never needed charging, and for the computer to function perfectly, forever. He likewise demanded that the device be able to connect to the internet in the present time, no matter where or when they were. Several other common demands followed, delivered in the manner that reminded Laresa of a bored aristocrat ordering about a house servant. He worded every wish with extreme care, so that Laresa could not possibly rebel by twisting his words. Indeed, he seemed to know much about her, and Djinn.
As she fulfilled his wishes, she studied him. He had dark shoulder-length hair, and a slim, bony frame. His expression was one of smug self-confidence. His next set of wishes changed him, the typical wishes that so many male Masters had pressed upon her over the years. When she finished granting his wishes, he possessed the lean, muscular body of an athlete, and a cock of considerable length and girth.
He admired his new body and generous endowment in a mirror, flexing his muscles and chuckling. He turned back to Laresa and said, "So, do you like my new body? Do you find it arousing, my little Laresa?"
The question he asked was about his body, which was undoubtedly attractive. Laresa had little choice but to answer, "Yes, Master."
He laughed and said, "But you find me repulsive, of course. That's quite alright. I may decide to sample your wares at some point, but we still have a lot to do, my dear. Quite frankly, I don't trust you, my silver-haired wench, so I believe we'll get you a little help before we move on to any big wishes. I wish for you to bring the Djinn, Nathifa here to serve me."
Laresa reached out with her power, finding the genie Aaron sought. When she attempted to bring the bracelet that was the Djinn's home to her, her brow furrowed in confusion when she felt resistance.
The rotund man gasped, seeing the flashes of power sparking against the shield surrounding the Chamber of Containment. Someone was attempting to summon an unbound genie, and one of those in the Chamber was the one selected.
Placing his hands against the runes on the doorway of the chamber, he poured his will into maintaining the shield. Almost as soon as his hands touched the runes, he knew his efforts were in vain. Whoever was summoning the artifact did not seek just any Djinn, but one specifically. Still, he poured all his heart, all his will, and all his power into maintaining the shield. His duty was to protect the artifacts the Society had located, and he would not fail in that duty, so long as a single breath of life remained in his body.
He endured, fulfilling his obligation, until his heart burst from the strain. The shield collapsed, and a bracelet vanished from its silken cushion within the Chamber.
Aaron smiled as the bracelet appeared on his wrist, and swirling vapors congealed into his second genie, "Welcome, Nathifa."
"Greetings, Master, how may I serve you?" Nathifa responded. She had the same look of surprised confusion on her face as the one Laresa had worn only a short time before.
Laresa sighed inwardly as Aaron placed the same restrictions upon Nathifa with which he had shackled her. Laresa guessed that Nathifa was a couple of years younger than she was, at least physically. She was centuries old in reality, but her appearance surely placed her just into the full flower of womanhood. If it were not for Laresa knowing that only adults had been sacrificed to be Djinn, she might have even suspected the woman younger.
Laresa couldn't help but notice Nathifa's hair, as unique as her own silvery locks. Nathifa's hair fell freely in flowing waves down her back, nearly to her trim, heart-shaped bottom. The strands were a deep red, so dark that it almost looked black where it was gathered, but the color shone through on the edges, whenever the light struck it right. Laresa thought her beautiful, and even felt a little twinge of jealousy. Nathifa stood about a hand taller than Laresa, with perky breasts just slightly smaller than Laresa's heavy, but still firm, globes. The diaphanous gown she wore, quite similar to Laresa's own, only served to enhance the woman's attributes, barely concealing them.
As Nathifa acknowledged the last of Aaron's wishes, Laresa sensed a great wave of apprehension coming from the other genie. Laresa was making no effort to invade Nathifa's mind, but she nevertheless felt the assault of thoughts and emotions pounding into her.
The young Djinn had known only two Masters in all her centuries, sleeping within her bracelet since then, sensing the presence of people near her home only rarely. Being summoned was extremely frightening to the young woman; something Laresa remembered all to well from the first few times a Master called her forth from her ring. Aaron's overbearing dominance and obvious knowledge about her was not helping the red-haired genie cope.
A strange sound coming from the open laptop startled both women out of their thoughts. Aaron walked over and looked at the screen, laughing when he saw the email. The Society was alerting its members that one of their number had died attempting to prevent an artifact from leaving the Chamber. He realized that he would need to reply, as well as send a reply from Wallace's email. Shortly, it wouldn't matter if the Elders grew suspicious, but for now it would be best if he gave them no reason to suspect what was happening half a world away.
As Aaron sat down to type, obviously distracted, Laresa sent her thoughts out to the other Djinn, I have been forbidden to speak aloud as well, but my name is Laresa.
I am Nathifa. You are of the Djinn as well?
Yes, I am. I sense you are afraid, and have only been summoned twice in all your years, do you know how this is possible?