La Fee Verte
The djinn once roamed freely over the desert kingdoms, playing with mortals with little thought given to danger. They amused themselves freely, granting wishes to those brave or foolish enough to match wits with the elemental spirits, and life was good. Then, humankind discovered magic. Some say it was the elves who taught them the secrets of imprisoning magic. Still others say that a human, wise beyond mortal ken, tricked the secrets from a demon. However it happened, the djinn found themselves hunted, sought for their powers of wishes, or destroyed in vengeful reckoning for past amusements.
The days of the djinn's glorious freedom is long past, and the djinn have faded into legend -- little more than a moral fable to chastise those arrogant in their own wit. They have not been destroyed completely, but those who possess these artifacts that imprisons one of the remaining elementals keep them closely guarded, and dare their powers only sparingly. Too, some have been lost over the centuries, destroyed in cataclysms or hidden away in deep recesses beyond all knowledge or sight.
Yet what is lost may again be found, and the bottle that holds Sajah al-Zarqa, daughter of a djinn prince, has once again found its way to the world of men. It sits on a small shelf with a wooden placard that reads 'Caveat Emptor', amid a scattering of trinkets and books. It is an elegant bottle of glass, twined about with a copper vine whose shine has long been lost beneath the patina of age. The glass itself is a cloudy blue and green, with streaks of yellow and red at the tips of the swirls as if its creator had attempted to depict the four elements in his crafting.
It was hard to explain what it was like inside the bottle that held Sajah's essence. She was no tiny version of herself, lounging on soft cushions and eating dates and other succulent fruits while she waited for the bottle to be opened. Instead, her essence was present, but incorporeal. She had only the vaguest sensation of the passage of time, and little knowledge of what went on around her.
That did not mean she was completely quiescent. She 'woke' briefly, if that was the term, each time her bottle had been taken since the holy man had driven her back into it and sealed her away inside a small, dark recess in the cliffs, to be covered over by sand. He had feared the demon who had ensorcelled his brother, and rightly so, for Sajah's last master had used her ill, and her vengeance had been both without compassion and subtle. She had been aware when the sand that had long hidden her bottle from the welcome heat of the sun was pushed away, and when the earth that cradled the bottle had been disturbed. Again, she was aware when a man, his thoughts filled with the promise of a few coin, had lifted her, but he had no thoughts of curiosity for what lay inside, and she did not compel him. Being owned by a fool with no imagination was worse than the state of unbeing. Each time her bottle had been handled, she had known, and known, as well, something of the nature of the one who handled her. She was content to sleep.
Then, at last, she felt herself being lifted by one who was not like the rest, though his thoughts were swirling, chaotic, and fogged by drink. Even without her will directed, which she could do only with great effort to those receptive, she knew he could sense something of the nature of what he held, though his addled brain rejected the knowledge. Slowly, so very slowly, her awareness increased, and, through the one who carried her, she sensed something of the world outside. It was a pleasant feeling, and one that woke old memories, old hungers for life.
She waited with ever increasing eagerness as the bottle was examined, and knew the very moment when the one who held it found the release, and she readied herself, her essence well-satisfied, this time, to return to full awareness. The catch released, and Sajah felt the sensual movement of the air once more. She did not hesitate, did not fight the terms of the enchantment that linked her to the bottle. She felt her essence spewing out, taking on the solidity of smoke, caressing against the cool metal of her prison's top.
To the one who had released her, it seemed that a cloud of red-tinged, rolling smoke had been released under pressure, forcing its way out too quickly to restrain. The cloud coalesced, then settled, in a mass on the floor, whirling, swirling, in hypnotic patterns for the space of a few heartbeats, and then sucked itself inward, forming and transforming into a human-like shape.
Sajah stood with arms flung wide and eyes closed as her essence transformed from mostly air to that of earth, water, and a hint of fire. Her skin was dark, the dusky hue of the desert people, and her long black hair, pulled up and back by a gold and amber clasp, hung down her back. Her ears, revealed by the style of her hair, were pointed and set in close to her head. Her features were angular, with high cheekbones, full eyebrows and long, thick lashes. Her lips were dark and generous, curved upward in a smile that hinted of the delight she felt upon retaking her preferred form after so long.
She was tall, standing perhaps 5'10", and her body was lithely muscular, bracelet covered arms well defined. Her top was of red and gold, and hugged her breasts tightly, a silken fringe hanging down to tickle her bare midriff, the muscles of her abdomen rippling. Her naval held a ruby nestled within the small indentation, and her loins were covered with a wide band of soft, supple looking leather that hugged her hips just below the ruby, holding the filmy fabric of her skirts that left her legs and most of her thighs bare. Her feet were encased in well-crafted strapped sandals, the nails of her fingers and toes long, and colored with henna.
She faced, directly, the one who had released her, and when her eyes opened, she regarded him with eyes the color of the desert night sky, and smiled, a provocative, teasing smile that held the promise of both heaven and hell. "What is your wish, O Master?"
The words were ritual, compelled both by the nature of the spell holding her to the bottle, but also instinctive, simply part of being what she was -- a djinn. It was time to play.