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By Lazra
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by Lazra

Neel was many thousands of years old and had served nearly as many masters, ranging from old kings to the children of peasants.  He had granted every wish from "give me fortune and power" to "let my children grow happy".  

Surprise was always the first reaction he got from a new master.  You open a bottle expecting a liquid (if anything) inside and instead blue-purple vapors spill upwards into the shape of a young man, and you will be surprised.  (Neel had lost count of the number of times his bottle had been dropped.)

The second reaction gave him the best clue as to what kind of master he had this time.  Neel had been horribly abused and demeaned by masters whose eyes lit with happiness and greed.  He had befriended masters who had been awed and reverent to the divine being before them.  Wariness wasn't too bad, because regardless of how they treated Neel, they didn't want to be around something as powerful as a djinn and so made their wishes with all haste, and then left him alone. Unfortunately, that also meant he was trapped in the bottle again, for djinn could only roam about with their master's permission, and lacking a master meant he lacked that permission.

Today, however, marked the first time ever that his new master had dropped his bottle and then run away in terror.

Neel didn't know what to make of the reaction.  The man had tripped and fallen onto his rump in his haste to flee.  The man jumped to his feet, ran to a strange wheeled metal beast, and sped away with many panicked glances to make sure Neel wasn't following.

Since the master had not ordered him back into the bottle, he chose to interpret it as leave to roam for a while.  His last master hadn't wanted anyone getting their hands on Neel's bottle and possibly undoing the wealth and power he had wished himself.  So with Neel safely put away, he had buried the bottle in the middle of a forest far away from everything.

That had been nearly three centuries ago.  Neel had no idea what was going on in the outside world.  He would be in the ground still if not for a passing wolf that had come across him while digging a cache for his meat.  

Neel used his gift of tongues to beg the wolf to take him somewhere near Men.  The wolf had refused, saying Men were horrible creatures and wanted nothing to do with them.  Neel pleaded further, and in the end, the wolf had taken his bottle and dropped it into a nearby river.

The river had let out into the ocean, and Neel spent several years bobbing around the currents.  He had asked the fish how the world had changed over the past few centuries, but being fish, they barely remembered yesterday.  The whales and dolphins were more informative, but still limited in their knowledge.  They could only tell him that Men were making bigger boats and bigger nets and bigger teeth.  ("Teeth" being their word for harpoons and knives.)

And so Neel bobbed along until he washed up on a sandy beach.  He was there a few days and partially re-buried by the tide, when the new master had arrived.  

He was settling himself into a folding chair with a large blue box beside him when he spotted Neel's bottle.  He opened the box and took out a brown bottle, drinking from it, and staring at Neel's bottle with curiosity.  After finishing the brown bottle, he got up muttering something Neel couldn't make out, and scooped the ornate bottle out of the sand.  He wiped the wet sand off and turned it in his hands, inspecting it.  Then he brought it to his ear and gave it a quick shake.  

Neel hated that.  His magic kept the interior from being jiggled.  In fact Neel couldn't feel the movement at all, but he could see outside, and it was always disorientating when they did that.

Then the man reached a hand to the stopper and yanked it free.

Neel burst forth, quite delighted to be out again.  His bottle had been immediately dropped, but Neel didn't mind.  He smiled and bowed deeply with his hands before his face and eyes downcast.

He was about to introduce himself when the master made a noise.  Something closer to a grunt than a scream, but a sound of terror nonetheless.  Neel had brought his eyes up in time to see the master tripping over himself in his rush to leave.

Neel was too astonished to do anything but blink after his retreating form.  By the time it occurred to him to call out or follow, the master had climbed into a tiny metal house on black wheels.  Well that's what he assumed it was until it gave a loud roar and ran away with the wheels spinning sand into the air.  So it must be some strange metal....pet? horse?  Well it seemed to obey the master, so Neel shrugged it off as unimportant for now.

He inspected the things the master had left behind.  The chair, though framed with metal, was surprisingly light.  The blue box was made of a material he had never seen before (and couldn't begin to guess at) with thick walls and a pivoting handle.  Inside were more brown bottles covered in ice.

Neel looked around the surrounding countryside.  The air was hot and dry, and while he could see hills in the distance, none of them were capped in snow.  The master must be wealthy indeed (if not royalty) to be able to get ice from a great distance.

He put a simple spell on the ice to keep it from melting until he could get it back to the master.  Then he opened a brown bottle and sniffed the contents.  Beer.  He wrinkled his nose distastefully at it, snapped the cap back on, and put it back with the others.  

Neel quite hoped the master wasn't overly fond of alcohol.  Those sorts were never good masters.

With a quick swipe of magic, the master's belongings were safely stowed inside Neel's bottle.  Then Neel shrank the bottle and put it on a chain around his neck.  Satisfied both his and the master's belongings were safe, he changed himself to look human.  

His natural colors were shades of celestial blue.  From his skin to his hair to his eyes, he was pale blue all over.  Short of falling into a tub of paint, humans didn't get to be blue, so Neel became a rich brown all over.  Except for his eyes; they stayed blue.  A djinn's eyes would always betray his magical nature no matter the cleverness of the disguise.

Lastly he changed his clothes into plain peasant garb: loose undyed cotton pants and shirt with sandals.  The heat and sun never bothered him, and the master hadn't worn anything on his head either, so he declined any turban or headcloth.  

Satisfied that he looked humanly ordinary, Neel set off walking the same path the master's metal beast had taken.
Title: Granted
Author: Lazra
Genre: Fantasy
Fandom: none/original
Rating: PG
Word Count: ~1200
Warnings: completely un-beta'd
Summary: After 300 years, a genie finally gets a new master.
Author's Notes: "Neel" means 'blue' according to an online reference for Indian baby names. It seemed appropriate for him. And yes, Neel is the genie in my last two art pieces. I'm not sure if I'll write out a whole backstory for him, but this bit wouldn't leave me alone.

© 2012 - 2020 Lazra
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