The Demons of Constantinople – Snippet 39
Leona was watching the djinn as Wilber spoke. She saw it look around and see her floating in the air of the netherworld with her wings folded and sitting on something it couldn’t see. It was a minor djinn, nothing more than a zephyr. It gave a little squeak of fright and took off running. At that point instinct took over. Both cat and crow were active hunters, and if the will-o’-wisp part of her was less active about it, it was still a hunter. Leona was off Wilber’s shoulder and flying after the little creature in an instant. Almost, she dined on djinn, but she wasn’t all that hungry, and she thought Wilber would be upset if she killed it before he could talk to it. So she grabbed it in her talons, and slipped back into the natural world.
The being that suddenly appeared in Leona’s talons was the size of a puck, bright orange as though it was made of fire, and it rested on a smoky tail, like a cartoon Aladdin’s lamp-style genie. He was also pissed and clearly frightened.
“Hello,” Wilber said again. “Now will you behave if Leona lets you go?”
The djinn looked desperately around, then gave Wilber a crafty look, and said, “Yes, yes, master.”
Wilber could hear the lie. Apparently djinn weren’t held by their given word like European demons. “Hold him for a few, Leona.” Wilber picked up a stick and started to draw a pentagram around the djinn. It took less than two minutes and it wasn’t particularly powerful, but it should hold the thing.
“Let it go, Leona.”
Leona flicked out of the natural world, leaving the djinn in the pentagram.
Meanwhile, Wilber had drawn a crowd. He took a moment to explain what had happened. Then he started questioning the djinn. It turned out that he was from a tribe of djinn to the southeast. From what he said, Wilber guessed it was somewhere around Syria, and he was here because one of Murad’s wizards had grabbed his wife and stuck her into a sword. Both he and his wife were the most minor of djinn, and all he wanted was to get his wife and go home.
“Which sword?” Wilber asked. There was something wrong about this, but Wilber wasn’t sure what.
Again with the shifty eyes. After a bit of hemming and hawing, he identified the tent that held the sword, and described it. It was a scimitar. Not Murad’s, but one of his lieutenants, who had been injured in the battle and captured.
Baqir wasn’t thrilled with the sword in the first place, and sold it to Wilber. Again, Wilber wasn’t convinced that that was going to be enough to get the truth out of the djinn, but it was a start. The first djinn wanted Wilber to give him the sword and let him go, promising on a stack of Koran to be Wilber’s willing slave if he did.
Wilber wasn’t buying. Another pentagram, and then he released a fetching top half of a young woman, also orange, but with more yellow, and dressed in veil and harem outfit. She looked at Wilber, looked at Orange, and started cursing a blue streak. Apparently, Orange wasn’t her husband. Orange was a low class djinn who wouldn’t leave her alone. She wasn’t thrilled about being in the sword, but better the sword than that little freak Omar.
Wilber translated this for the Turks, and some laughter ensued. Not all the prisoners were celibate janissaries, and not all the janissaries had always been celibate.
“What do you want then?” Wilber asked.
“I want my freedom! It’s not right that a mere human should hold any djinn, even that one.”
“Well, at least you’re being honest,” Wilber said. Meanwhile he was getting warning from all around that letting djinn loose without protection was unsafe. Wilber suspected they were right. At the same time he wasn’t thrilled about holding this young woman against her will. It wasn’t gentlemanly, not by Wilber’s standards of gentlemanly behavior.
Wilber pulled out his phone and called Merlin, who was in his room in Tzouroulos. Then he listened as Merlin spoke to the female djinn, who proved to be a minor ifrit. Then, having gotten a fair piece of her name as a surety of protection, Wilber released her. In a moment, she was gone, and a moaning Omar was released and fled.
The effect was mostly to convince the Turks that Wilber was a powerful wizard.