Sequel to Djinn Book 2: Where There’s Smoke
Dale Edinger is still cleaning up the hoard he inherited from his Aunt Matilda, and having an interesting time of it. He's also learning to handle his own magic from his mentor, a dragon called Summer. And he's falling in love with the djinn Riadh.
Riadh is the big worry for Dale. He's already turned down one offer to purchase the djinn made by an ethically challenged, ego-driven black magician named Archimedes. Whoever owns Riadh's box, owns Riadh. Dale doesn't want to own Riadh, but destroying the box would destroy Riadh, too, so he isn't quite sure how to fix the problem.
When Riadh's box disappears, Dale knows who has it ... and Riadh. It isn't difficult for Dale to track Archimedes to his lair. But can Dale save Riadh without destroying him?
Outside in the extensive backyard, hot summer sunshine beat down and the scents of dozens of different plants wafted through the air.
"That's lemon verbena." Summer pointed at a row of bushes. "Dig up the weeds around the base of the bushes. Trim six to eight, one-foot long branches off each one and make a stack in the wheelbarrow. Pick up the leaves that blew off the trees and put them in the compost. When you're done, I'm going to ask you which tools have magic."
"You enjoy having free labor," Dale said.
"It has its uses. May I ask Riadh to prune the honeysuckle?" Summer asked.
Dale frowned, wondering for a moment why she was asking him, then comprehended that although she didn't treat Riadh like an object, technically Riadh was his possession. It was apparently courtesy to ask. "If he's willing, then yes," Dale answered.
"It's fine. I like the way the honeysuckle smells," Riadh said.
It took the best part of an hour to do the tasks assigned, making mental notes of what tools he touched that gave him the subtle tingle indicating magic. Dale noticed something bluish on the ground, half covered by a leaf. He picked it up, still holding a bunch of weeds in the opposite hand. At first, he thought it was a very large bug, then he realized it was a hummingbird. Poor thing, it was dead.
It fluttered feebly. Oh, maybe it wasn't dead, but it certainly wasn't in good shape. Maybe if he laid it somewhere protected, it might recover. He stood there thinking for a long moment. His hand felt hot. The tiny bird fluttered some more and a glow surrounded its body. Suddenly it darted away, flying out of his hand. Dale was mystified. He looked down at his opposite hand. The cluster of freshly pulled weeds had become so dry, brown, and brittle that they were practically disintegrating in his grip.
"You don't even know what you did, do you?" Summer said.
"No ... I guess the hummingbird was only stunned."
"It was nearly dead."
"It couldn't have been. It flew away."
"You transferred what was left of the living energy of the weeds to the bird and brought him back to life."
"But that's impossible." Dale wondered at the stupidity of the words as they came out of his mouth, especially since he was standing in a garden with a dragon and a djinn. "Isn't it?"
"You're beginning to unfold, one layer at a time." Summer said.
"And what does that mean?"
"Time will tell." Summer regarded him with an inscrutable gaze, and he expected her to breathe out those wisps of smoke she seemed so fond of. "Now tell me which tools are magic."
* * * *
On the drive home, Riadh studied his lover. Dale had been very quiet since they left Summer's farmhouse.
"Did you mean to revive the bird?" Riadh asked.
"I don't know. Not really. I thought it was sad that it was dead and then it wasn't and the batch of weeds in my hand were. I don't even have a clue what I did or how I did it."
"A significant portion of magic is intent."
"But I didn't intend to bring it back to life. And is it really alive or did I make some sort of zombie hummingbird?"
Riadh laughed. "No zombies. It's alive, but then I don't think it was quite dead to begin with."
"Does that make me some sort of necromancer? Or maybe not since you said it's wasn't actually dead, did I heal it?"
"I ... I'm not sure it's that straight forward."
"Between you and the dragon, I'm not getting much in the way of actual answers," Dale said.
"Sometimes magic is cut and dried like following the recipe in a cookbook. Sometimes it's art, intuitive and emotional."
"Are you saying the half dead bird came back to life because I wanted it to?"
"To a degree. I think Summer's right, it's going to take some time to learn if this is something you're good at," Riadh said.
"On the topic of dead things, I forgot to ask her about the pickled demons. Eeww, I sound crazy just saying those two words together."
"Those jars have been in the basement for decades. I don't think it'll make a difference if you wait until next week to ask her what you should do with them."