The Last Si’lat
by Alanna Robertson-Webb
Jirizi, the last Si’lat Djinn residing in the Bedouin Desert, spied upon a small group of humans as they meandered hopelessly over dune after blistering dune. She had taken on the form of a small lizard, and had been watching them for the past three sun cycles. With each hour, their lives reached closer to death, and she began to fear she may be their only salvation.
Could she break eons of tradition just for a few mere mortals?
The men had been caught in an unexpected sandstorm, their ragged pleas falling upon deaf ears as their camels deserted them, and now they were without food or water. Jirizi sighed inwardly; as much as she loved rules, she hated seeing lives needlessly wasted more. Besides, if she let them die, it could potentially be seen as an act of malevolence directed at the humans, and the last thing she wanted was another war to wipe out more of her kind.
She scurried over to the men, whose sluggish pace made them easy to catch up to, and with a whoosh of sapphire smoke, she revealed her true form.
“Do you see this?”
“I have lost my mind …”
She allowed the cacophony of terrified cries to disperse, merely sitting calmly in the lotus position until the men realized that she was not attacking or threatening them. Finally, the youngest, his eyes wide with fear, brought it upon himself to speak to her.
“My, um, my lady? Can we, err, be of any service to, ah, you?”
He clearly had no idea who he was addressing, so Jirizi let his lack of etiquette slide. She was aware that the era of the Djinn was fading, and as such was not overly surprised that these men did not recognize her distinctive ruby skin or her metallic, amethyst-colored hair.
“Actually, it is I who may be of service to you. You are lost, and I wish to foster peace between our species. As such, I am granting you access to my personal oasis so that you may live.”
The three men exchanged wary glances but the youngest, who had been raised on fables of mythical creatures, had an inkling of who she was.
“Thank you, Mistress Si’lat. My name is Kalfu, and we would be eternally grateful for your kind assistance.”
At the word Si’lat, the other men’s eyes opened even wider, their jaws gaping as shocked wheezes trickled from them. With a regal nod, Jirizi snapped her fingers, and the humans watched in awe as she began morphing the desert, a billowing tornado of sand engulfing everyone as the terrain changed. When it died down, they were standing ankle-deep in a cerulean pool of the clearest water they had ever seen, and in unison, the men dropped to their knees.
“Heavens bless you, o kind Djinn!”
“Praise be unto you, merciful beauty of the desert!”
It was Kalfu’s whispered thanks that brought a smile to Jirizi’s face, and for the first time in decades, she felt just a little less lonely. She watched, her eyebrows arching in amusement, as the men began gulping down water. They reminded her of baby hippos as they splashed about in the water, and she hoped that this could be the start of a new era of peace.
As she was lost in thought, mindlessly humming an archaic lullaby, she noticed that the men had finally begun to relax. Their swollen, sunburned skin was rapidly healing, and the magic of the oasis was making short work of their fatigued muscles and sand-coated clothes. Their weathered faces were no longer scrunched in misery, and Jirizi could see how some Djinn could consider their species to be aesthetically pleasing.
She listened to the men as they chatted idly, and soon they could no longer hold their curiosity back. They urged Kalfu, their newly-appointed dignitary, forward, and he humbly knelt in front of the Djinn.
“Mistress Si’lat, how can we ever repay your life-saving hospitality?”
“Well, you can stay here for all of eternity, and be my adoring slaves.”
Jirizi giggled as their expressions danced through a myriad of kaleidoscope emotions: outrage, sadness, and despair all played an equal part but before she could tell them that it was a joke, Kalfu bowed.
“As you wish, Mistress Si’lat. My only request is that you allow us to say goodbye to our families, as we shall never see them again.”
Tears were pricking at the corners of the young man’s eyes, and Jirizi felt a pang of shame at her joke.
“Kalfu, it was said in jest. I have no desire to keep slaves. I actually find the idea abhorrent, and I would never want to separate you from your family. How do you say the phrase? ‘My people skills are tarnished’, is how I believe you say it. I do not interact with humans often, so I may seem, well, unorthodox.”
Relief flooded the men’s faces, an uneasy peal of laughter crackling from them.
“No payment is necessary, though I would not mind the company every now and then. If you come to visit me, you could even bring your families! I am sure any children would love to play in my oasis.”
Kalfu bowed, his palms pressed together in supplication.
“Thank you! We can absolutely visit you whenever we come back through to trade, and it would be our pleasure. Tonight, we can entertain you with stories and songs, and we will happily bring you a gift next time as well.”
He shot a meaningful glance to the other men, who nodded their agreement in unison. They all quickly bowed, and as the soft cloak of night fell upon them, humans and Djinn happily swapped songs and stories for the first time in a century.
Alanna Robertson-Webb is a New York author who enjoys long weekends of LARPing, is terrified of sharks, and finds immense fun in being the chief editor at Eerie River Publishing.
She lives with a fiancee and two cats, all of whom like to take over her favorite cozy blanket when they think they can get away with it. She is currently an MRO support member by day, and an editor and author by candlelight.
While she has been published before, which is wonderful, she one day aspires to run her own nerd-themed restaurant.