Djinn opened his eyes blearily and found his mother’s face above him. He opened his mouth to speak but she shushed him as gracefully as one could be shushed,
“Do not speak my child, my brave child. You must rest your tortured form. Oh, you fought so valiantly.”
“What… of the kingdom?” Djinn said. His mother turned away dramatically.
“I fear we have lost this fight. The knights came with more numbers and ferocity than we anticipated. They’ve crashed their ships into our homes and torched our city. The green lands are nothing but a crisp. Now even the stadium blazes with their hateful flame. And, moment by moment our numbers dwindle.”
“No!” Djinn was filled with anguish.
“Do not fear, my child. I have tasked my most trusted Jul’Dori with your escape. You will survive and… I pray… I pray the Kingdom of Jul will contin…” she burst into tears and fell onto him. “I will of course, stay behind and face the savage knights myself.”
“I won’t allow it!” Djinn cried. He attempted to get up but his wounds were too raw and fresh streams of blood encouraged him to sit back down. A Jul’Dori doctor with an impressive moustache helped him.
“Do not cry for me, my beloved son. Run free and live on.” His mother wept.
“No! There must be something I can do! Anything?”
“Anything?” His mother stopped weeping immediately.
“I am resolved to die for my kingdom. I will not leave it in its hour of need. What manner of sand beast would I be to leave my own mother to die while I strode free?”
“There might be something you could do.”
“Anything!” Djinn had fire in his eyes and not only because it was being reflected off his burning city.
“Fetch the fruit!” The King’s mother said. An idle Jul’Dori left at once.
“Fruit?” said Djinn. “What is it?”
“Our Jul’Dori researchers disocovered that the Desert Flowers produce fruit that possess fantastical qualities. We enlisted the aid of several sand worms and Djuloks to test out their effects. Some fruit killed the eaters instantly, some fruit grew the eaters to an enormous size, some fruit were fantastically delicious. But, there was one type of fruit that granted one amazing powers.”
“Like to be able to stretch?” Djinn asked.
“No one has time for that, my son. The savages are approaching. These special fruit, black in colour, grant one immense strength and power.”
“What of speed?”
“Speed too! Didn’t I mention that?”
“Give it to me, mother! Whatever it takes to save the Kingdom!”
The Jul’Dori returned with a small fruit in his hand.
“This is it, my son. With this you will be able to protect our kingdom. You will be the mightiest!” He took the fruit, which resembled a grape, and ate it.
“It tastes like grape.” Djinn said and then he went deadly still.
“My son? My son! Oh, my son! Kakakakak!” she cackled and waved her bandaged arm. Every Jul’Dori except the one who gave her the fruit died instantly even the one with the sweet moustache. The survivor face-planted in terror.
“My liege, what is happening?”
“What is happening? I have killed the last of my heirs. You see, one of the fruit we found rejuvenated the eater and restored their youth. Now, I will rule the Kingdom of Jul for all eternity and look hot while I do it! Kakakak! Djinn has been a blessing. His blind zeal has only worked in my favour. I almost burst out laughing when he cut down his own brother! And then the fool eats the fruit of his own accord! I couldn’t have planned it any better myself! Kakakak! I am the forever Queen!
“But, why not just stab him and say the knights did it? Why go through the trouble of getting the fruit?” asked the Jul’Dori.
“I see… But, my Queen, why keep me alive?” the Jul’Dori asked, as he felt he should.
“Who else would I say all this to?” and then she flicked her wrist and he dropped dead.
Djinn stood before her. He stood very much before her. He was almost twice his normal size and growing.
“My dramatic plan failed!? Who knew!?” the Queen cried.
“Treachery!” Djinn roared. The Queen flicked her wrist but Djinn would not die. She turned to the recently de-lifed Jul’Dori and resurrected him.
“Oh! Back am I?” the Jul’Dori said with the nonchalance of one who’d just seen the afterlife and wasn’t particularly impressed.
“You! Which fruit did you give me!”
“The black one. As you asked.” He said.
“Would you call it black or really dark purple?”
“Aw. Now that you mention it, I’d probably say dark purple.” He said thoughtfully.
“You fool!” She cried and killed him again. “That was the fruit of immensity!”
Djinn grew and grew. The floor cracked and crumbled and collapsed.
The Castle at Jul’Dor exploded upwards as a giant rose out of it. It let loose a roar that rattled the helmets of the knights and heavied the pants of those nearest. But, as it turned to wreak havoc on all within its sight the last rays of sunlight vanished. As the light faded the raging giant stiffened and froze in a terrifying tableau.
In other news,
Dojima, Siphokazi, Jack, Heart and Oblibli stood on top of the highest mountain on Hat Island. There were several other strange ones there. Most of which were brought there by the Seer. One of them was a Nosish with a large pair of ears, another was a Southern Head Islander with a massive tongue, another was a Molish with glowing skin and the other was rather bland looking in that they (gender was uncertain) had no features and resembled a stick man that had been filled in grey. The Seer said something along the lines of “The Nose said he was busy.” The four of them then started arguing to pass the time.
“Smelling it would be worse!”
“Ah! Seeing it would be worse!”
“Feeling it would be worse!”
“Tathting it would be worthe!”
“Knowing it’s coming is the worst!” said the bland one.
They didn’t seem to mind that our party was there. Dojima decided to meditate on his thoughts. He had much to consider. Siphokazi took out a book and read, she had catching up to do. Jack went over to the squabbling weirdos to see if he could add anything to the argument. Heart followed him. Blue-eyed Oblibli stood there nervously and looked around as if expecting something to jump out at her at any moment. Reza and Responsibility were still sitting on the cliff edge.
After a while of waiting Jack finally asked:
“What are we waiting for?” The Seer’s homies seemed to notice him for the first time and looked down their noses at him except the bland one who lacked such snobby apparatus.
“We await the gods.” said the Seer. Siphokazi scoffed loudly enough to be heard from quite a distance away. Although, it’s possible the big-eared one would have heard anyway.
“You’ll soon be eating your words, my good librarian!” said the Seer with a cheerful grin.
“What happens then? After they appear.” Jack asked.
“Please, allow me.” said the bland one. Despite the lack of a mouth, nose, respiratory system and pretty much everything else, the bland one spoke quite proficiently.
“The Balanniversary is what we attend. It started five ages ago with the appointment of Fred.”
“Oh, story time.” said Fred.
“Ooooooooooh!” Dojima’s eyes almost popped out of his head.
There standing among the others was Fred. A god of the Gnome Archipelago. He looked so unassuming one could easily have mistaken him for an NPC.
Dojima strode towards Fred whilst bowing with the utmost reverence.
“Oh, mighty Fred. I am thy humble servant.” Dojima said. He bowed so low that his hat fell off.
“Cool cool cool cool.” said Fred.
“Who’s this guy?” Jack asked. Dojima whacked Jack over the head. “This is not some guy! This is Fred! Unbound by the light or the dark. The Other Deity!”
“And, the F in SIF!” Fred added.
“If I may…” The bland dude said a little indignantly. .
“Apologies. Please continue.” Fred said. Dojima was astounded that someone dared expect a deity to be polite.
“So, yes. There exist three gods: SIF. Salvatora, Immolon and Fred. As well as three domains. Land, Air and Sea. Each god is given a domain to rule over for 50 years. Who gets which domain is decided here by the coin of fate.”
“I was ruling over land this last age. Hope you enjoyed it.” Fred said.
“So, what happens when the gods rule over different domains?” Siphokazi asked. She’d appeared out of nowhere and gave Fred quite a fright.
“Well, I’m pretty chilled actually. I tend to let things go about their business. Although, I will confess I have become quite fond of encouraging the creation of music.”
“What of the other gods?” Siphokazi asked while taking mad notes, having thrown her cynicism to the wind.
“Well, Sal, is real sweet heart. She’s got a real mother complex. She likes to promote good will, increase the birth rate, give life to cultures, heal. That sort of thing. Lon-lon, is quite the rebel. He likes to promote bad will, increase the death rate, take life from cultures, hurt.”
“Please define ‘good’ and ‘bad’ will.” Siphokazi said.
“Haha! It’s thanks to people like you that I got hired in the first place.” Fred laughed. “In fact, you kinda remind me of… Ah, but that’s a story for another time. The others are coming and they are all about big entrances.” Fred sat down and so did everyone else. Not of their own accord, mind you. They simply did. Chairs appeared. And, their favourite snacks appeared too. This was no magix. Magix was so showy and ostentatious. This godly power had a distinct humility to it. Like someone who knew you very well and didn’t go about telling everybody that they did. Fred munched on some pastilles noisily.
“We’re in for a treat.” he said and then put on some 3D glasses and handed a pair down to everyone else. Whether they did anything or not was as of yet unknown.