The Society – Part 3
This is Part 3 of Clever’s short story, “The Society”. If you haven’t read the rest of the story, you can start here!
The pull of the genie had led Zynia to an inn in Al Sanad. As soon as she steps inside, she spots the girl. Zynia walks up to her and leans in close.
“We need to speak privately,” she says.
The girl nods. “We have a room.”
Zynia follows them up the stairs and down a cramped hallway. Once the door is closed and locked, she examines the room. She lifts the coverlet to peer under the bed, and opens the creaky wardrobe. Now that she is certain they are safe, she turns to the girls.
“How many wishes do you have left?”
“Two,” replies Alainn.
“That leaves you with two choices,” says Zynia. “I cannot risk sending the genie home with you. The Black Cloaks will find you and take him. So, you can either make two wishes now and return home on your own, or go with me to The Society to drop the genie off there. If you come with me it would be safer for the genie, because the Black Cloaks cannot steal him until you have made your wishes. And The Society would make sure you got home safely in return.”
The girls look at each other, and Alainn plops down onto the bed.
“Who are the Black Cloaks, anyway?” Myla asks.
“They are a group that formed in opposition to The Society. We protect the genies’ powers from being used for evil by limiting who has access to them. The Black Cloaks believe everyone should have an opportunity to use the genies’ wishes, no matter the cost. They have been trying to get ahold of a genie for a long time,” Zynia says. “They are dangerous, so I would not blame you if you just want to be done with this and go home,” she continues gently.
“But it would help if we went with you,” Myla says.
Zynia nods in answer.
It’s quiet for a long moment. Alainn speaks next. “I would like to see this adventure through to the end.”
After a night’s rest in the inn, the party rises at dawn to continue their journey. Zynia told them that if they leave early enough, they would only need to spend one night in the desert before reaching their destination. They saddle their horses and cover their heads before riding out.
The horses kick up sand as they ride. They don’t speak much during the day, because their voices are muffled by the scarves. When they stop for water, a thought occurs to Myla.
“How did you find us?”
Zynia smiles for the first time since they met. “All members of The Society are attuned to their genie, the one they are assigned to protect. I feel a tug.” She places a hand on her heart. “It pulls me in the direction I need to go.”
“Maybe you should hold onto this,” Alainn says as she removes the necklace.
“You should keep it until we reach The Society, in case you need to make a sudden wish,” Zynia says. “ But I would like to say hello, if you don’t mind.”
Alainn holds out the necklace to Zynia. She takes it and rubs her palm over the gemstone. There is a pulse of light, brighter than they’ve yet seen, and a thick cloud of purple smoke erupts from the pendant. It begins to form into the shape of a person; a head, arms, and torso revealing itself. The lower half of the body is just a trail of smoke binding it to the jewel.
“My friend,” the genie says in a low, smooth voice. He reaches out a vaporous arm to pat Zynia on the head.
“I’m sorry I had to leave you,” she replies.
“No one can predict the twists of life’s journey. You did what you had to, and now we are together again.” The genie turns. “Besides, these fine young ladies took good care of me,” he adds with a smile.
The girls dip their heads in respect. The genie lets out a laugh like the rush of a fire catching. The genie bows in farwell, before dissolving back into the pendant. Myla and Alainn just stare in silence.
Zynia clears her throat and hands Alainn the necklace. “We better get moving.”
They keet riding until, shortly after dark, they come upon a spring surrounded by cottonwood trees. The horses drink heartily, and they refill their water skins. As they are removing their saddle bags, Alainn laughs.
“Do you happen to need a bedroll?” she asks Zynia, holding up the spare.
“I do,” she replies. “I’m guessing this is my genie’s doing?”
“He knew we would find you.”
The next day’s journey is long and hot, but they push on, knowing it is their last. Sand sticks to the sweat coating their skin. They ride slower today, not wanting to push the horses to exhaustion. They stop to rest in the waning afternoon light.
As she is drinking, Myla notices something in the distance. A large cloud of sand moves toward them.
“I think a sandstorm is coming.” She points behind them.
“That’s no sandstorm,” says Zynia. “Get back on the horses, NOW!”
They all scramble into the saddles and ride hard.
“I want you to keep riding, even when they catch us,” Zynia calls out over the hoofbeats. “I will slow them down. Once you’re in range of The Society, they will sense the genie’s presence and allow you entry.”
Myla glances behind them, at the now visible horses. “You won’t be able to slow them all,” Myla yells. “There are too many. The ones you can’t hold off will still catch us.”
“We need to fight together,” Alainn agrees. The pendant thumps against her neck, as she rides. She knows she cannot wish to be at The Society, so she does the only other thing she can think of. “I wish Myla and I had weapons and could fight better than the Black Cloaks.”
With a flash of light, short swords appear at their sides.
“Fine,” Zynia says, “but if it goes south and I tell you to run, you don’t question me.”
They ride a little further before Zynia turns her horse to face the oncoming enemy. Reaching into one of her saddle bags, she pulls out half-a-dozen small knives.
“Is that entire bag full of knives?” Myla asks.
Zynia lets two knives fly in rapid succession, and two Black Cloaks fall from their horses. Two more follow shortly after.
“I think I should’ve wished we could fight better than Zynia,” Alainn says in awe.
“Get ready to fight,” Zynia says, as the closest group of riders approaches them. She flings one more pair of knives before reaching for two scimitar.
The rider’s collide into them with a ring of steel, as their swords clash. After they pass, they jump from their horses. The women meet them blow for blow in the sand. Myla is surprised to find that she is able to tell from the enemy’s shifting body weight where he will strike next. She brings her sword up to block a downward strike aimed for her shoulder.
Zynia cuts through two of the Black Cloaks, and turns toward the others riding up. She fells one with a knife before rolling to avoid the sword of another. She clashes with two at once as they dismount, trying to keep them from the girls.
Alainn screams. Myla turns to see a man clutching his stomach in front of her. Alainn just stares at the blood running through his hands.
“Lookout,” Myla yells, as another man rushes toward Alainn.
She snaps back to the present and gets her sword up just in time. Alainn steels herself. She will need to kill more people before this is over, if they are to survive.
The desert becomes a blur of clashing swords, as they lose themselves to the movement of battle. It’s not long before Myla and Alainn are panting, and their arms become heavy. Zynia still moves like the wind, but she is facing too many opponents in order to protect the girls. This leaves her vulnerable to a strike that slices her thigh.
Her leg buckles, but she quickly rights herself. She spins to avoid a sword, but her wound slows her. She takes a slash to the side with a grunt, but swings her scimitar to finish off the opponent. She looks up to see the last wave of Black Cloaks, but knows she is too injured to win this round.
“Get to your horses,” Zynia cries out. “RIDE!”
She doesn’t wait to see if the girls obey her. She flings two knives, hitting her mark. She faces the remaining five riders, and raises her scimitars. At the last second, she ducks, swinging her swords out to take down the first two horses.
With a scream at the pain in her thigh, Zynia leaps for another rider, pulling him off his horse. The final two riders gallop past after the girls.
Myla and Alainn run to the horses and scramble into the saddle. They give the reins a snap and lean forward. Tears leave streaks in the sand coating Myla’s face, but she doesn’t look back. She hears hooves pursuing them.
They ride hard, trying to stay ahead of the Black Cloaks long enough to reach The Society. Myla thinks the hoofbeats sound closer, but she can’t be sure. She only hopes they don’t have far to go.
She glances around the flat desert, looking for any sign of where they need to go. The only thing she sees is what looks to be a hill, a ways ahead. She angles toward it, seeing no other option.
After a few paces, a blur of movement catches her eye. It’s coming from the hill. She hears a rider close behind her, spurring his horse on. The Black Cloaks are catching up.
Myla blinks at what she sees moving toward them. It looks like a small group of people riding on…rugs. They fly through the air at an incredible speed. As they approach, the people stand up on the rugs and raise bows.
“Duck!” she yells to Alainn.
They flatten themselves over their horses as arrows strike the riders behind them. With a storm of wind and sand, the flying carpets whiz by.
After a brief struggle, Zynia stabs the man she tackled with a knife that was strapped to her thigh. She stands to face the remaining two Black Cloaks, hoping the girls can outride the others.
Her eyes narrow at one of the Black Cloaks, and her chest tightens with hatred.
“Hello, Zynia,” he says.
“Harun.” She spits blood at his feet. This is the man that tortured her, one of the leaders of the Black Cloaks.
While she is distracted, the other man charges her. She ducks his sword and flips him over her back. Spinning, she stabs him in the chest. She turns back to Harun.
“It looks like it’s just you and me,” he says with a wicked grin.
Her adrenaline is pumping so hard that it keeps her from feeling the pain of her wounds, but she knows she needs to finish this fight before she loses too much blood. She spins her scimitars and settles into a fighting stance.
Harun charges with an overhead blow, and she raises her swords to meet it. The fight is on. The battle is a dangerous dance, and the throbbing of her leg is just one beat of the song. It’s there in the background, altering some of her movements, but not the primary melody.
If Harun wasn’t such a despicable person, she would call him a worthy opponent. He is strong and quick, and answers her blow for blow. But he knows she is injured, and will expect her to be slow and careful.
Taking a deep breath, Zynia braces for the onslaught of pain. She launches into a flurry of aggressive movements, acting as if her wounds do not exist. She takes Harun unawares, and he is left on the defensive. With one smooth movement, she slices open his side. He goes down to one knee, but she shows him no mercy.
After Harun collapses in the sand, Zynia drops with him. Blood pours from her wounds. Shock and pain drag her into darkness.
The people on the flying carpets return with Zynia unconscious atop one. The rugs are ornate and colorful, and those riding them are draped in light silks. They motion for Myla and Alainn to follow, as they float toward the hill in the distance.
When they get closer, they see that it is a sandstone structure. Pillars mark the entrance to the rounded dome. Once they are inside, the flying carpets lower to the ground and the riders step off. The entry room is covered in various rugs, looking quite ordinary until someone sits upon them and they rise off the floor.
The carpet carrying Zynia still floats above the ground. As they walk down the hall, the rug moves behind them. Outside every door they pass, another rug lays at the threshold. They enter a lavish bedroom, and the carpet lowers Zynia onto the bed.
Sheer silk curtains hang from the bed and windows, and piles of cushions surround a low table in the corner. A woman comes in to tend to Zynia’s wounds.
“Please, sit,” another woman tells them, motioning to the cushions.
Myla and Alainn plop down, exhausted.
“I know you must have questions, but first, do you have the genie?” the woman asks.
Alainn lifts the necklace and hands it to the woman. With a rub of her palm, she sets the genie free. The cloud of purple smoke floats to Zynia’s side and forms into its humanoid shape. The woman turns back to them.
“Thank you for your help in returning him to us. Do you still have any wishes?”
“Just one,” replies Alainn.
“You can rest here as long as you need, but you will have to use the last wish before you return home.”
“My name is Lyendah,” she tells them. “I will take you to a room of your own, and after you have all recovered,” she looks to Zynia, “we will speak more.”
When they wake, a carpet is waiting at the door. After they sit upon it, the rug takes them to Zynia’s room. She is reclining in the cushions next to Lyendah.
“Ah good, you found your escort,” Lyendah says with a smile.
“I could get used to this,” Alainn replies as the carpet lowers to the floor.
Zynia and Lyendah exchange a look.
“You should be the one to tell them,” Lyendah says.
She motions for them to join her at the table. Myla and Alainn raise their eyebrows, but settle into the cushions. Zynia clears her throat.
“I was with you for part of your journey here, and my genie filled me in on the rest. He has spoken with the others of his kind, and they have judged you to have used your wishes wisely and in service of others. Most importantly, you have protected one of their own,” Zynia pauses. “The genies would like to offer you membership into The Society.”
Myla looked to Alainn.
“What does that mean? I know The Society protects the genies, but what would being a member entail?” Myla asks.
“Well, you are both now talented fighters,” Zynia says with a grin, “so you would keep up on your training. You could be sent out on missions, as guardians for the genies when they need to be transported outside of The Society. Some of our members are stationed around the kingdom, looking for a need and those who are worthy of a genie’s wishes. We would find which role is the best fit for each of you.”
“Would we live here? Could we go home?” Alainn asks.
“Yes to both,” Zynia answers. “This would be your primary residence, but the flying carpets can take you to see your family whenever you aren’t needed on a mission. They can travel quite fast.”
Alainn turns to Myla and takes her hand. “It’s up to you Myla. I won’t do this without you.”
Myla smiles at her best friend. “I think our adventures have only just begun.”
What Do You Think?
Did you enjoy this story? Would you like to read more of Myla, Alainn, and Zynia’s adventures? Let me know in the comments! If you liked this story, you might also enjoy “The Mastermind”. As always, click the button below to buy us a cup of coffee. We promise to share!
Thanks so much for reading!
-Clever & WTF