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The Problem of Wishes

by on August 13, 2015

Jason was most unhappy, standing in a muddy field as the dealer in old lamps rode south, back to the city. His father, Lord Sutherland Waterfalls, by contrast, was positively ecstatic. “Do you know how long it has been since we had a genie?”

“No, sir,” Jason said dutifully. He truly didn’t know. His elderly panda tutor hadn’t got quite that far yet in the castle of Charmingfell’s history. All he knew was that he had accompanied his father out in the night to meet a mysterious merchant who had promised great things, and so far he didn’t think the results weren’t promising at all.

“A blasted long time, that’s what,” Lord Sutherland said. “But now we’ve got one! And we’ve got the wishes too!”

“Are you…certain, father?” Jason asked. He had read stories of genie’s wishes that didn’t work. Genies tended to be either scrupulously literal or wildly manipulative. He was not at all sure this one would turn out differently.

Lord Sutherland smiled. “Only one way to find out, m’boy.” He drew back his cloak. He had, apparently, fastened the lamp to his belt. He now held it up and, almost trembling with excitement, slowly rubbed the dull metal.

There was a flash, and a puff of smoke. The smoke looked oddly irritated. “Yeah?” it squeaked.

“Ah,” said Lord Sutherland, a bit disturbed by the informality, “I do get three wishes, correct?”

“Sure thing,” said the genie. “Whaddya want?”

Jason watched as his father mused over the possibilities. His father had never been one to muse long. “I’ve always wanted to see the eastern parts of this country, beyond the mountains. But it’s too blasted far, even for our airships. What I want is to be able to get there instantly. Magically!

The smoke looked hesitant. “You sure? Look, Mac, that kinda thing’s tricky..”

The lord of Castle Charmingfell drew himself up. “I am not inexperienced in the ways of Magic. My father, Lord Wilmore-”

“Yadda yadda yadda,” interrupted the genie. “Whatever you say, Mac.” There was another flash. The smoke disappeared. Nothing seemed to have changed.

“So it doesn’t work,” Jason said, feeling relieved. “Sorry, father, but one does wonder about the efficacy-”

“It did work,” Lord Sutherland said, in an odd voice. Then he reached out his hand. Quite suddenly a thin silver line slashed itself in the air, then slid open, like the opening of a door. Sunlight spilled out, bright and golden, illuminating the night. Jason heard the cry of strange seagulls, and the dull roar of the eastern sea.

“It worked!” cried Lord Sutherland, somewhat obviously. Then he started forward, intent on plunging through the doorway and standing on the eastern shore. Jason made to follow. Lord Sutherland waved him off. “Don’t go, Jason, my boy, not yet. I’ll check it out first, eh? It’s my duty, y’know!”

He had been not been entirely truthful with the genie. He knew a bit about standard Magic, but was not practiced himself. He didn’t know that with doors of teleportation, one needed to keep a constant mental watch on them to make sure they didn’t slam shut. The mystical energies involved were too powerful for one to be inattentive. He lost focus, thrilled as he was by the prospect of exploration. The door flickered, sparked, then exploded. The night bloomed with fire.

When Jason woke, all he saw was a crater and a scorch mark. His father, and the lamp, had gone. Jason Waterfalls, the new Lord of Charmingfell, was quite alone.

Note:  I created Jason Waterfalls in my NaNoWriMo novel last year, in which he and Sally the Sanguine Sorceress of the South have an epic adventure. This vignette is more of a prequel to that. When I saw the prompt at Grammar Ghoul Press this week, I couldn’t resist bringing Jason back. 🙂


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  1. And now I’m singing “Bringing Jason Back!” nice!

  2. This was super fun! I really want to read more about Jason Waterfalls now. hehe

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