Thursday, March 4, 2010

Chapter Seventy-Eight

“Let the buzzards have him,” the Dwarf says to no one in particular. For good measure, he spits on the Vizier’s corpse.

The Wolf hopefully sniffs at the body.

“Forget it,” says the Dwarf. “He’s full of poison.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” says the Wolf. He can still smell the bile-like tang of magic - it would make for a most unappealing meal. “What about his magic stick, though? It could come in handy.”

He takes the golden staff from where it lies on the sand and aims the serpent’s head at some stones.

“Bang, bang!” the Wolf commands. He flicks the staff wildly. “Open, sesame! Shoot!” But the ruby eyes remain flat and lifeless.

“Leave it alone,” scowls the Dwarf. “Probably cursed. And I don’t want that thing in my sight.”

“So much for the all-consuming fire,” says the Wolf, and he tosses the staff onto the Vizier’s broken body.

Nearby, the Monkey lies motionless. The Dwarf gingerly picks it up, and his frown darkens. Too many bones are broken, and what can he do? Mending wounds had been Cinderella’s specialty.

“Black magic,” he mutters. “You see what’s wrong with people? They get so greedy, their hearts go black, and they turn into that.”

The Wolf isn’t listening. He stares up into the sky at the Vizier’s carpet. He whistles, and the carpet’s edges perk a little. With a bit of coaxing, it floats down.

“Can you believe that fool?” complains the Dwarf. He takes his woolen cap and turns it into a sling for the Monkey. “Willing to kill over his blasted lamp. Doesn’t he know we’re all in this together? Why’d he want it for himself?”

He looks over to make sure the Wolf is paying attention, then scowls. The Wolf - now sitting atop the carpet - is delighted and nervous as he floats over to his companion.

“Greed. That’s all it is,” scowls the Dwarf. “Pure, stinkin’ greed.” He gently lays the Monkey on the plush carpet, and pulls out the dingy lamp to look at it in disgust.

“Yeah, yeah,” says the Wolf absently. “But what does it do?”

“I don’t know!” growls the Dwarf. He turns it over and over in his hands. “Wish I did, but I don’t.”

But then he does. Something clicks in his mind, and the lamp buzzes and trills. It nearly jumps from his hands, but the Dwarf holds it close.

“What the heck?” says the Wolf, and he sits up to watch the dancing lamp. Smoke wafts from its spout. It doesn’t have the reek of bile that had followed the Vizier’s magic, it smells like something… good, something better, something more, like a cloud or baking bread or the moment before dawn.

The smoke - or is it steam? - does the exact opposite of normal smoke when it dissipates in the wind. It thickens, grows, comes together, becomes more real, and suddenly it is a glowing, grinning blue figure.

“That’s your first wish!” says the Genie. His smile makes up nearly half his size. “You now know just what the heck this lamp does!”