Raider and the Lost Lamp Ch. 02

bymythtrav16©

"Yes?" Clara said with great interest.

"Well on a hunch, I did a little checking and I discovered that every one of those things was an ancient Persian constellation," the young man continued, as Clara looked on in amazement. "When you put them all together, you can make a map, the same way sailors used to use constellations to find their way home. I know it sounds pretty lame..."

"I don't think it sounds lame, master. I think it's brilliant," Clara said with a tone of sincerity that caught the young man's full attention. He looked into her deep brown eyes for one serene moment, until the mountain trail demanded his attention back by throwing a large pothole under his wheel. "So you came all the way up here based on a theory?" she asked after the jolt knocked her out of her reverie.

"Well I probably wouldn't of, except that I found out there was a set of Persian ruins at the precise location the map was pointing to."

"Still... that's a pretty big leap of faith," Clara commented.

"I guess..." the young man shrugged.

Clara looked at him with a new feel of respect. Those markings on the princess's sarcophagus had mystified everybody involved with the tomb's excavation. They were far more ornate and detailed than any markings ever seen on caskets from that period, even the sarcophagus of Hal'hadin himself. Most of the archaeologists settled on the idea that it was made so lavish because Hal'hadin simply wanted his beloved wife entombed in a beautiful sarcophagus. Clara, however, wasn't convinced. She suspected that there was an elusive purpose behind the carvings, something that she couldn't quite put her finger on. But this young man, her new master, had cracked the code, and created an accurate map to the Princess's Vault. Clara's own method of finding the vault seemed sloppy by comparison.

She knew that the vault was north of the tomb and on or near a mountain, according to texts from the tomb. Then she narrowed down her search based on known travel routes used in the time of Hal'hadin. She researched for five hours a day for two weeks before she managed to turn up a set of ruins that were dated to roughly the time of Hal'hadin, though they were quite far from any known travel routes of the day. When all the time directions to the vault had been right in front of her.

The young man was obviously unseasoned. His field skill was poor (and his driving wasn't much better), but he was also clearly brilliant, with an adventurous spirit and a desire to explore. Clara could see that he had much to offer as an archaeologist and that made her smile.

The jeep roared into top speed as it came to the end of the rough mountain trail. Clara's veils began to flap wildly in the wind, annoying her greatly.

"So what's the deal with the fancy pyjamas?" the young man asked, apparently trying to make conversation.

"They were imposed on me as part of the imprisonment spell, master."

"Oh god! I'm such a goose! I never introduced myself! The name's Rourke. Jeff Rourke," he said, extending his right hand. Clara shook his hand.

"Clara Roft," she introduced herself, despite the fact that he already knew whom she was. Her upbringing had taught her that it was common courtesy to respond to an introduction in kind, if one had not already been formally introduced. "And please, call me Clara," she continued. "The only one who calls me 'Lady Roft' is the butler," she chuckled.

"Righto. Pleased to meet you, Clara," he smiled at her, not really needing to watch where he was going, as there was nothing but sand in front of him. "So this spell... When you rub the lamp, it transports you into some strange chamber..."

"Yes, master."

"Jeff, please..." he interrupted.

"Thank you, Jeff. I was not allowed to call you by name until you permitted me to do so. I think that the chamber is some kind of magical storage vessel that somehow exists inside of the lamp."

"Right... So it transports you to this chamber, it turns you into a genie, and then when somebody else rubs the lamp it sends you back into the real world as their slave."

"Right," Clara said with a disgruntled sigh. She didn't care for being referred to as a slave, no matter how true it was.

"...But in all the stories, Alladin already had a genie in his lamp... so what happened to him?" Jeff asked.

"Her," Clara corrected. "She was buried with Hal'hadin."

"What? You mean the princess?" Jeff asked her, confused.

"Yes. She was the lamp's last resident," Clara stated. Jeff sat in silence for a few seconds while he absorbed this new information.

"How can you be so sure?" he asked.

"Because Zhiasa kept a detailed journal in the lamp. Everything she learned about 'geniehood,' all her masters, all the wishes she ever granted, it's all in there."

"Sounds like an interesting story..." Jeff said, implying a desire to hear it.

"It would be if it didn't end with me starring in the bloody sequel," Clara said with calm frustration. Jeff chuckled. "Zhiasa was tricked into the lamp by her evil little sister, who was the one who actually created the lamp to trap Zhiasa..."

"Why?" Jeff interrupted.

"Zhiasa was daddy's favourite."

"Oh."

"...Not to mention the crown princess," Clara continued, "So Zhiasa spent the next thirty years as her sister's slave. Then the sister was murdered and Zhiasa spent the next eight thousand years bouncing from master to master. Eventually she came into the possession of Hal'hadin. He was just a peasant at the time, but he used his first two wishes to become a noble with a great palace. Shortly after that, he and Zhiasa fell in love..."

"Amazing... What happened next?" Jeff asked.

"I don't know. That's as far as I got into the journal before I... fell asleep," Clara answered, hesitating. She hadn't lied, just omitted some of the truth. Still, she was a little surprised that the spell let her get away with it. "By the time I woke up, I was being drawn back into the real world by you."

"So, wait... you fell asleep for two years?"

"It's what genies do," Clara said with a shrug.

"Oh... So that's why they make you wear the fancy pyjamas!" Jeff smiled. Clara smirked, suppressing a laugh.

They sat in silence for a few more seconds, gliding across an endless sea of white sand. After a while, Jeff asked the inevitable question. Frankly, Clara was surprised that it had taken him this long to raise the subject. "So, being a genie, you have to grant wishes, is that right?"

"Correct, Jeff. I have to grant each master I have three wishes," Clara said, her stomach sinking at the thought of being passed around from master to master like Zhiasa had been.

"Three wishes... no surprises there…" Jeff paused for a moment, thinking. "But when I told you to shut up, back in the vault, you did it, but you said that it didn't count as a wish. How does that work?"

"Well, Jeff, I am... your slave," Clara said, clenching her teeth, "and as such, I am bound to obey any simple command you might give me: Sit down, shut up, come here, go away... bark like a dog..."

"Sorry about that."

"...Anything like that," she continued. "In addition, I must perform any simple task you ask of me, such as 'fetch me that pen', or 'clean up that mess'. None of which counts as an official wish."

"So you only use your magic if I make a wish?" Jeff asked. Clara was beginning to notice that Jeff had a very curious nature. Yet another trait she admired.

"Not quite. I can use magic to perform a task you might give me - if you did order me to clean a mess, for example, there would me nothing to stop me from cleaning it up magically, unless you expressly ordered me to do it manually. Also, I can use my magic to make myself more comfortable." Clara rolled her eyes as a thought occurred to her. "I can't believe I didn't think of it earlier!" she exclaimed, angry with herself. She closed her eyes as she willed her magic into action.

Her clothes began to change in shape, texture and color. Her bustier began to morph into a light grey cotton crop top. The straps began to expand to cover her entire shoulders, developing into short sleeves over her arms. The bottom of the garment crept down her body about an inch, still leaving most of her midriff bare. And the material supporting her breasts climbed up to form a more modest covering for her perfect mounds, while still leaving a deep V-cut that exposed a generous amount of cleavage. Clara enjoyed having the ventilation in a climate like this. Meanwhile, her loose silk pants had shrunk to become tight khaki shorts that tightly hugged her firm ass and left very little of her thighs to the imagination. Her dainty slippers had grown in bulk and crept up her ankles to become sturdy jet-black climbing boots.

As all this was happening, the thin veils that had been flailing wildly from her back and hair disintegrated into trails of pink dust. The gold clasp that had been holding her hair in place likewise disintegrated. For a few seconds, her gorgeous brown locks danced behind her in the wind, wild and untamed. She looked like a supermodel doing a photoshoot. Then some unseen force grabbed the ends of her hair and began to twist them into a single braid, which ended up stemming from the base of her skull, rather than the top of her head as the previous ponytail had done. Finally, Clara held her hand up, and a pair of sunglasses appeared in it, which Clara immediately put on. Jeff had been watching this entire display, amazed. If it weren't for the fact that they were driving through a barren dessert, he would've surely had an accident. After a few seconds, Clara turned her head slightly, just enough to notice Jeff still gawking at her.

"Most gentlemen would turn their head when a lady changes," Clara quipped.

"Most gentlemen who saw a lady change like that would think they were hallucinating," Jeff replied. Clara turned her gaze back to the 'road' ahead, smiling. "So, umm... where were we?" Jeff asked.

"You were asking about when I use my magic, Jeff."

"Right, right. So... I can order you to do something magical, and it doesn't cost me a wish? So what makes a wish a wish?" Jeff asked her. Clara thought about this for a second, knowing what the answer was, but not quite sure how to explain it.

"It's all to do with scale, or difficulty. Something that you could easily do yourself, or ask another to do doesn't count as a wish. Something that would otherwise be impossible, or exceedingly difficult would count as a wish, although you would expressly have to say, 'I wish...' for the deed to be done. I could transport you down to the bank for free, but if you wanted me to transport you into the vault, you would need to make a wish..."

Jeff found this last remark very interesting.

"You can transport me places?" he asked.

"Yes," Clara replied, already knowing what he was thinking. She was no fool, she had considered telling him that she could transport them pretty much anywhere with her magic when they first got in the jeep. She decided against it, however. She didn't like the idea of volunteering information about all the perks of genie ownership to a man she'd only just met, even if it would give her a chance of contacting her parents sooner.

"Can you take us back to Melbourne?" Jeff asked. Clara had been reasonably sure that he was Australian for a while now, (New Zealanders had a slightly different accent) but this confirmed it.

"I believe I can," Clara said, a little unsure as to whether she could travel that far.

Jeff looked over at Clara, remembering the sadness in her eyes when he'd first told her about her two year absence. Clara could not believe what she heard when he next spoke.

"How about England?" he asked her, sincerely. Clara stared at him, stunned.

"If that's what you want, Jeff..." she said, unemotionally, concealing her own hopes quite well.

"Then let's do it!" he said with a smile. Clara broke out into a big grin. All of a sudden, the harsh light that had been assaulting their eyes dimmed considerably. The empty white plain in front of them had been replaced by a bitumen road, lined by shallow grass embankments, which were in turn bordered by thick forests. The sky was now bleak and overcast and the wind blowing on them had become quite cool. They were on an English highway.

Not even having time to appreciate this incredible transition, Clara and Jeff screamed in terror, as they realised they were about to collide with an oncoming SUV. The SUV's horn wailed in futile warning as Jeff slammed on the brakes, but with the speed he'd been travelling, they never would've stopped in time. Clara, thinking fast, teleported the jeep once again, this time to a point on the road just behind the SUV. Smoke billowed from the tires as the jeep screeched to a halt, sliding just off the road and onto the grass with strong bump. Both their pulses racing, Jeff patted himself down haphazardly, checking for injuries and briskly eyed Clara off to make sure she was okay. He turned around to see the SUV cruising down the road once again. Then he sat back down, panting, his heart thumping wildly, and after a few seconds he figured out how they'd managed to survive. As he began to calm down he turned to Clara with an irate look on his face.

"I had no way of knowing that would be there, did I?" she said, defensively.

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