Three Wishes: Part Two
“Do you think he followed us?” Ko panted as they forced their way through the street.
“It’s not possible to see in this weather,” Ellie coughed. “I thought you said it was fine out here.”
“All I said was that it wasn’t hot,” Ko said infuriatingly.
Ellie glared at him and turned to the second oldest in the family. “Control him, Ophir. He’s your brother.”
The striped Kau looked thoroughly confused. “But he’s your brother too.”
Ellie sighed. “It was a joke.”
She looked behind her and scanned through the sand whipping into her face. No hint of a royal Uni. She let out a sigh of relief and pressed herself up against the nearest wall in a failed attempt to shelter from the wind. She could feel her fur filling up with sand.
Ko looked fine, wrapping his headdress tighter around his head and shoulders. Ophir’s fur was naturally short, so her fur was fine, but Ellie’s fur was long because of the Bori’s natural habitat, Terror Mountain.
“Let’s go visit the Palace or something,” Ko suggested, looking towards where the giant structure was resting above the city.
Ellie followed his gaze and grinned. There was every chance that Sylkon would try to go there, just so he could act the Royal part. But it was also very big. She nodded and they set off.
Sylkon stared at the lamp for a moment. His first thought was wondering how something so heavy-looking could possibly fly through the air and donk him on the head. His next thought came only a second after, and it was that the lamp looked frightfully dirty.
He stepped gingerly towards it, like it was going to burn him, even though it looked like it hadn’t been used for a hundred years. It wasn’t exactly a magic lamp, but it was a Desert lamp he had once seen in a book about the Lost Desert (surprisingly he had found time to read between his constant grooming sessions). These were very old lamps, generations old, and they had once been in every house in the Lost Desert. But somehow they didn’t burn as brightly, were more wasteful, and caused more accidents than other more modern lamps, so they had stopped being made. But some people believed that they had magical powers.
He picked it up in one glossy hoof, careful not to scratch the finish that it had taken him two hours to do the night before. The lamp didn’t flash or glow, it just sat there, and leaked a drop of oil onto his fur.
He dropped it with a clatter and let it roll across the floor as he raced to the bathroom and dunked his leg into the sink, washing off the offending liquid. When he was quite sure that it posed no danger, he trotted into the kitchen and picked up the cloth that Frosti kept by the sink. When he returned to the hallway he picked the lamp up in the cloth and carried it to the bathroom. He was surprised at how light it actually was, and wondered how it could have hurt so much.
“You’re too pretty not to clean up,” he told it, but his mind was ticking. There was something niggling the back of his mind, trying to remind him of something.
He dropped it unceremoniously into the sink. Just because it looked nice, that didn’t excuse it for being filthy. It landed with a loud clatter, and yet more oil leaked out. Then he set to scrubbing it with his hoof polish and a lot of fancy star shaped soap until the dirty brown stains on the tarnished gold ever so slowly became smaller.
He didn’t notice the tiny stream of smoke that was pouring from the funnel of the lantern. It looked a lot like the steam from the hot water. He was paying more attention to the lamp itself. It was gold and squat, with a slender funnel coming out one end and tapering off gracefully. It also had a curving handle that was large enough for him to loop his hoof through.
It was only when he turned to find a towel that he noticed the smoky apparition floating a few centimetres above the bathtub.
“What...?” he gasped, jerking his hoof so that the slippery lamp was jolted out of his grip. It crashed into the ground with a terrible thud.
The smoke frowned, and then Sylkon noticed that it wasn’t just a cloud of smoke anymore, but was settling into some sort of form. That form was him. He watched in shock as it shaped itself into a royal Uni that was treading air, identical to himself, except that he wasn’t floating above the ground.
“You might want to treat my vessel with a little more respect,” it said tartly, waving a smoky-grey hoof at the lamp lying on the floor. “I have to live in that thing, you know.”
“Who are you?” Sylkon demanded.
His reflection tilted its head at him. “Isn’t it obvious?” it asked in those same dry tones. When Sylkon didn’t reply it gave a sigh and lowered itself to the floor, changing form as it did so. Sylkon blinked and when he opened his eyes it was Ellie leaning nonchalantly against the bath, inspecting her paws. But now the smoke had gained colour, though it was tainted by grey and a bit dull.
“How did you do that?” Sylkon asked, wondering if it was real.
He reached forward and tried to prod the half-solid form with his hoof, but with an angry hiss it dissolved and reformed as a faerie Pteri flapping in the air above him.
“No touching,” it snapped.
Sylkon glared at it, wondering when it had decided that it could tell him what to do. Then he looked at the lamp and his eyes widened.
“You’re a Genie, aren’t you?” he said.
The Genie gave him a look. “Of course I am!” it growled. “What else did you expect when I came out of a lamp?”
Sylkon couldn’t think of any answers to that. “So what can you do?” he asked.
The Genie landed in Pteri form on top of the sink and puffed its chest out. “I am Maleficus the Canny, and I can do a lot of things, little Uni.”
“My name’s Sylkon,” Sylkon snapped.
The Genie shrugged. “As you wish.”
Wish. The word sung in his head. He didn’t like this little upstart of a Genie, but his curiosity was piqued. He took a few steps forward and picked up the lamp, drying it absent-mindedly. It was a lot cleaner now, with less oil stains.
“You can grant wishes, can’t you?” he asked slowly.
Maleficus rolled its – no his – eyes and changed form to a purple Peophin that reclined in the bathtub.
“What kind of Genie would I be if I didn’t grant wishes?” he asked. Then he added, “Not that I particularly enjoy it.” He fixed a beady eye on Sylkon. “And I supposed you want to wish for a thing, or three? Because that’s how many wishes you get. And only that number. T-H-R-E-E. Three.”
Now it was Sylkon’s turn to roll his yes. “Why else would I ask?” he said, walking into the lounge room and plonking himself down on a chair.
Maleficus followed, now an orange Gelert with lolling ears. He eyed the remaining chair, a hard backed sofa that had been the lightest one to carry on their first trip to the neohome. Then he sat down on the floor and proceeded to ignore the royal Uni.
Sylkon was thinking. Hard. With these three wishes he could have anything, become anything. He could be the ruler of the Lost Desert, or Neopia. Sloth would be like an irritating Moach. He wouldn’t have to deal with his annoying siblings anymore. Well, maybe Ophir wasn’t annoying, but Elloria and Kodovak...
The Genie was still sitting on the rug, his eyes fixed on the lamp in Sylkon’s hooves. Sylkon’s eyes narrowed as he gazed at the apparition. There had to be a catch here. The Genie wouldn’t do this for nothing. He needed information now. And where better to get information than the Palace? They had a wide library of books, and a section of that library was open to the public. That’s where he needed to go.
He stood up and was a tiny bit disconcerted when the Gelert stood up and followed him out of the room, eyes still firmly on the lamp. Sylkon flicked his mane in annoyance.
“If you’re going to follow me around then can you at least make it a bit less obvious?” he snapped.
Maleficus’s eyes snapped upwards and caught him full in the face. “I can think of a lot of better things to do than following you around, little Uni. Like being lost in a sandstorm. But I must follow my vessel, and it makes no difference who or what is holding it.”
Sylkon’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “I told you that my name’s Sylkon.”
Maleficus gave a little mock bow and continued to follow the Uni as he opened the front door, though he averted his gaze away from the lamp. Sylkon braced himself and stepped outside, realising as he did so that he was now absolutely filthy. Or at least ruffled. Still, he strode along the street with his head up high. There were quite a lot of pets on the streets, despite the windy weather.
I wonder if I could change this? Sylkon thought as he gazed around. Control the weather and the like. That would be so cool. But then he looked back at Maleficus and shivered. There was something wrong with the Genie. It never occurred to Sylkon that there might be something wrong with using a Genie to get whatever he wanted.
Even as he headed for the Palace he was wondering what it would be like to live in a place like that. He could already imagine the grandeur and the attendants serving his every whim. His eyes shone as he imagined and he almost didn’t notice that his siblings were coming back up the street towards him.
Ellie was humming to herself. They had enjoyed almost an hour of touring the Palace without Sylkon, and she was in high spirits. So when she saw Sylkon trotting down the road she jerked backwards in shock. When she regained her composure she noticed three odd things: Firstly, Sylkon looked like he had fallen down the stairs into something wet; secondly he had an old-fashioned lamp dangling of his horn; and lastly there was a semi-transparent orange Gelert jogging after him.
It didn’t strike her as odd when he continued to walk past without even noticing them. But then she saw Ko open his mouth to say something and pounced on him.
“Don’t draw attention to us,” she hissed. “We almost went for an entire hour without him.”
Unfortunately the fast movement caught Sylkon’s eye and he stopped and turned. Ellie released Ko’s muzzle and glared at him. He returned the gesture.
“Where did you go?” he asked, though he sounded far from interested.
“To the Palace,” Ellie replied icily. “Who’s your friend?”
The Gelert looked indignant. “I can assure you that I am most definitely not his friend,” he snorted. “I’m just following him around because he has my vessel.”
Ellie blinked. “What? Vessel? Then she saw the lamp and frowned. “What is going on?”
Sylkon looked smug. “I found a magic lamp. And now I get three wishes. Whatever I want.”
Ellie looked stunned for a single second, then she burst out laughing. Ko began to giggle as well, but Ophir gazed up at Sylkon in shock.
“You’re actually going to use the wishes?” she asked. “But you can’t do that. Th-that’s just selfish.”
Sylkon glared at her. “You’re just jealous!” he cried. “You want me to give you the lamp so that you can get the wishes.”
Ophir took a timid step backwards. “N-no,” she stammered.
Ko had stopped laughing by now. “Ophir would never do anything like that,” he growled. “Though I might if it got rid of you.”
Sylkon suddenly smiled at those words. “Get rid of me, eh?” he said slowly. “What if I wish that all of you were somewhere on the other side of Neopia where you couldn’t bother me anymore?”
And suddenly Maleficus was rearing up, his form changing from a Gelert to a shadow Eyrie in a matter of moments, his wings spread wide and his beak gaping. Red eyes flashed and smoke curled around his body.
“As you wish, little Uni.”
To be continued...