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  • Home > Samantha Young > Fire Spirits > Smokeless Fire (Page 14)     
  • Smokeless Fire(Fire Spirits #1)(14) by Samantha Young
  • Her eyes had widened at the sight of the flames, now they were as round as saucers, her heart pounding like crazy. “You?”

    Rabir gave her a charming little bow and smiled. “Ms. Johnson.” He held out a hand, a jacket with fur-lining dangling from his fingers.

    In shock, Ari reached out unconsciously and took it, pulling the jacket on and shivering at the warmth of the silky soft fur against her chilled skin. The White King nodded at Rabir and the ‘genie’ went up in flames. She squeaked on a scream, the heat of the flames licking her face before disappearing completely. There was no evidence of him ever having been there, not even the scent of lingering smoke.

    He had gone up in smokeless fire.

    Ari gulped, shaking. “That was Rabir. The guy from my party.”

    “Rabir is a Shaitan. A servant Jinn. I sent him to the party to bring you here.”

    “I don’t understand.”

    “There are rules. No being may be forced to the realm of Mount Qaf unless to be tried by the Jinn Courts. I feared coming to you would bring you to the attention of those I’d rather keep distant from you. So I had Rabir haunt your feelings with the thought of your mother.”

    That still made no sense. Ari snorted. Like any of this made sense. She was probably in a padded cell somewhere gazing blankly at a man in a white coat, saliva dripping down her chin. “Still… not getting it.” She shrugged, burrowing deeper into the jacket, her eyes wandering over The White King’s form. He was truly a magnificent creature, imposing and arrogant… and utterly terrifying. Those eyes of his. They were so black. So… soulless.

    “I wanted you to wish to see your mother so that you would be brought here. Of your own free will.”

    “It’s not exactly my free will if you manipulated me into missing my mom.”

    The White King smiled and Ari flinched back from it. It was the strangest smile she had ever seen. He stretched his lips into an approximation of a smile but it more like he was baring his teeth. There were no lines to crinkle the corner of his eyes, no spark to make the black of his irises glitter. It was a dead smile. “You are clever. I am glad.”

    She shook her head. It was like he wasn’t human. Wait, she reminded herself, he said he isn’t. “I really want to wake up now.”

    “This is not a dream. Please stop trying to convince yourself otherwise.”

    The sheet beneath her was chilled from the winter air and lack of central heating, the mattress firm, contouring under her butt. The candlelight flickered when wind blew into the room from the door she’d left open, casting threatening shadows over the very real man in front of her. Jasmine still danced on the air and Ari doubted she would ever be able to smell the floral scent again without thinking about this alien room. Ari pressed a hand against the velvet blanket at the end of the bed, her hand smoothing over the plush fabric, its softness tickling her palm. Her arm didn’t hurt but it still felt raw from the Nisnas’ bite, the fur inside the jacket making the sensitive skin tingle. Oh God, she had been attacked. She really had been attacked! She glanced behind her to make sure the thing was definitely gone, fear prickling her spine and making her check once more before she turned back to The White King. She laughed a little hysterically inside. The White King? It was like something out of Narnia. Inhaling deeply, Ari let the bitter air flood her lungs, opening up her panicking airways. Although her heart slammed in her chest and the blood rushed in her ears, she felt calmer knowing she wasn’t crazy.

    This was real.

    She locked gazes with The White King and tried not to shudder. “You were right earlier. I’m not the kind of girl who cries very easily anymore. But I’m… scared. I thought maybe I was going crazy but… weird has already entered my life. I have a poltergeist, you know. And I’m pretty sure a poltergeist stalker. And at the party, when Rabir took my hand I knew there was something off about him. Like really off. Like poltergeist living in my house off. This isn’t a dream. And I’m not crazy. So what am I?”

    He nodded at her and then turned, snapping his fingers over the air beside him. Out of an explosion of fire appeared a glass chair.

    No wait. A throne.

    He settled down into the high backed chair, arranging his colorful robes just so. “How would you like me to explain? From your beginning or from the beginning?”

    “I think this is one of those occasions where the long version is preferable to the short version.”

    His opaque eyes remained trained on hers and he nodded again. “How much do you know of the Jinn?”

    She shrugged, sucking in a shuddering breath, her stomach muscles clenching and choking the life out of the butterflies that had awakened in her belly. Her foot started to bounce on the floor and she had to press a trembling hand to her knee to stop it. “Not much. Just that Disney was way off the mark.”

    “You know nothing of your heritage?”

    “Why don’t we lead up to the part where you explain how it is my heritage?”

    “Your tone is disrespectful. Do all children speak to their parents this way where you come from?” his voice had grown calmer. It had a rumbling, icicle-laden edge to it that stopped her from rebutting with a smartass comment. This wasn’t a dream. If The White King over there wanted to take her out with a snap of his fire-breathing fingers there was no waking up from that.

    At her continued silence he blinked those dead eyes and straightened up in the ‘chair’. “Then we shall begin at the beginning.” He curled his fingers elegantly in the air and little flames danced into the darkness, transforming into the outline of a man. “In your world, this one, and the others, are Jinn. A diverse race of many colors spawned by Azazil.” The figure pulsed more vividly in the air so Ari assumed it represented this Azazil person. “Azazil is the Sultan of all Jinn, created from Chaos. He is as powerful as time and a lover of destruction. Power like Azazil’s causes fear, betrayal, and death. Over the centuries the Sultan Azazil bore children — Seven Kings of Jinn, each a ruler of one day in the mortal realm. The Gilder King, ruler of Sunday. The Glass King, ruler of Monday. The Red King, ruler of Tuesday. The Gleaming King, ruler of Wednesday. Myself, The White King, ruler of Thursday. The Shadow King, ruler of Friday. And The Lucky King, ruler of Saturday.”

    Ari gaped at him, trying to process all the information. “OK, OK. Sultan guy is Azazil. And then there is you and your brothers, who are sons of Azazil. Have you got a notepad, because I already can’t remember their names?”

    The White King made a low humming noise from the back of his throat that creeped her out. “Try to keep up. I won’t be repeating this. We live between realms, my brothers and I, interfering in the lives of Importants on the days we ruled—”

    “Importants?” Ari interrupted, frowning.

    “People with destinies that matter to humans. We helped shape those destinies, but only on the days we ruled over. However, my brothers began to betray one another. They began to interfere on days that were not their own.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I was told The Gilder King interfered with a very special Important on a Thursday when he should only have traversed into the Important’s world on a Sunday.”

    “The Gilder King is the ruler of Sunday, right?”

    “Exactly.”

    “OK, so you each started trespassing on one another’s turf, is that what you’re saying?”

    “Exactly.”

    “So… what happened?” And am I really sure I’m just not crazy?

    The White King turned his eyes to the dancing fire figures that had multiplied from one to eight. “Chaos. War. Distrust between the Seven Kings of Jinn. The order fell apart. We no longer control as many of the Jinn as we once did. And new half-breed races have sprung up in the human world, deliberately seeking to interfere with us.” He sighed and wiped a hand over the fire figures, extinguishing them. “Only Azazil has the power to undo what has happened but my father enjoys chaos too much. So we exist without order, without structure, once great… now… empty of purpose. Life seems meaningless.”

    Ari’s stomach roiled, her chest rising and falling in fast waves, feeling as if a million birds had been let loose inside it, as he gazed over her shoulder into a world she could not see. “You’re not kidding, are you? This is real?”

    He cocked his head. “What gave it away? The Nisnas attack or the Fire Spirits that keep appearing before you?”

    “Fire Spirits?”

    “Colloquial name for Jinn.”

    Her fingers bit into the velvet blanket beside her. “So… Jinn… there are different kinds? Ones like you and Rabir and ones like the Nisnas?”

    He nodded. “There are many kinds. With many talents.”

    “Good or evil?”

    If it was possible his dark eyes seemed to grow even blacker. “Why are humans so obsessed with that distinction?”

    Ari snorted. “Because we like to know what we’re dealing with.”

    “Good people have been known to do evil things, child.”

    She sucked in a deep breath, her nerves twanging as she found the courage to ask, “Are you a good person?”

    The soft tap of his fingers against the glass arm of the throne made Ari jump and she watched his face twitch at her reaction. She cursed herself for revealing how much he unnerved her. “I am not a person. I am Jinn.”

    She shivered at what was a deflected answer, somehow inherently knowing that this man — this Jinn — wasn’t good. Wasn’t… right. He couldn’t be her father. There was no way. “Why am I here?”

    “Because I willed it so.”

    “Can you maybe explain…?”

    “My brothers and I are powerful. Powerful enough even to control whether or not we leave seed for a child to grow in the womb of a women.”

    OK, too much information.

    “Nineteen years ago I decided that I wanted a child. Perhaps a child would bring some connection to the world for me again. At the time I had gained the servitude of a very powerful Ifrit—”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire