The messenger unwrapped the mirror scroll and held it so Geordanna and Jilissi could look into it. They watched as Esto’s jar fell to alabaster dust. Geordanna’s tears sounded like breaking crystal as they landed on the table. ‘You do know what this means,’ she said. It was a statement, implying she already knew what Jilissi’s answer would be.
‘Your eminences,’ the messenger said to the two. ‘Your presence is required in Gladstead.
Jilissi held her sister’s hand. ‘We don’t know that the ancient prophesy is true.’
She loved Jilissi’s enthusiasm, a trait only she seemed to have received at the triplet’s birth. Geordanna was the oldest girl and second born and felt she and Esto had instead inherited their father’s brooding ways. She had idolized Esto, firstborn of the miraculous Hassed triplets, children of Maakhassed the Venerated and Jasaeda the Wise. Their father had earned his title after the six-thousand-year war, where he had led the contingent who fought and won, freeing nearly half the Djinn from the service of their masters.
Jilissi leaned closer. ‘Sister, Esto is one of the strongest of our kind. He cannot be gone. We must call the others, perform the rituals.’
Geordanna blinked away a last few resonating tears and investigated Jilissi’s eyes. As the youngest of the semi-identical triplets, Jilissi had been kept close to their mother, who had permitted Geordanna and Esto to be reared and trained by Protectors. The two elder triplets developed much like their father, learning to harness their skills of general mysticism, while Jilissi learned nature’s magic as she sat at her mother’s feet. The rituals she mentioned were a specialty of her mother’s clan and that Jilissi had mastered to become a Chief Mage.
Not finding an answer in Jilissi’s eyes or after probing her mind, Geordanna spoke. ‘My sister, what others will you call? Esto and I were banished long ago. He and I have been fighting to free more of our kind for the last five hundred years.’
Jilissi felt her sister’s pain more acutely than she’d ever admit. She knew that is what Geordanna was looking for as her spirit wandered in Jilissi’s thoughts, but one of her skills included emotional blocking. Allowing her sister to feel how much Esto’s loss had broken her would not help Geordanna.
She answered, ‘I have never understood why you, Esto, and Father were so intent on war. Look at what it’s gotten you.’
Geordanna’s mouth fell open. ‘We have been fighting for our freedom! For centuries before the six-thousand-year war, all the Djinn were enslaved, kept captive to do the bidding of wealthy men. Our once great empire was reduced to ruin, and we were left with nothing. The rebellion, led by our father, enabled our family and many others to experience freedom again.’ She stood, walked to the messenger, took the mirror from his hands, and watched as their eldest twin’s jar crumbled, again and again in replay.
Turning back to Jilissi, she continued, ‘You know the answer to your question. As long as any Djinn are still enslaved, it is never enough. Our successes are a small step. Esto understood that and so did Father. Why you and Mother never got that is beyond me.’
‘War isn’t our way, Geordanna. That’s why Mother and I never understood why Father, Esto, and you were constantly going on recon missions and sorties. You had no problem, leaving Mother and I, did you?’
Geordanna’s eyes narrowed. Well, here’s the heart of it, she thought as she looked away from the ever-repeating destruction of her -- their -- brother. ‘What would you have had us do, stay back and tend the gardens with you and Mother? You realize if it wasn’t for Esto’s strategic mind and my natural inclination toward the sciences that you wouldn’t be here right now and Mother wouldn’t still be alive either?’ She watched as Jilissi twitched slightly. She’s working very hard to keep those emotions under control. The dust of Esto’s jar sat next to hers and two others. She pointed into the mirror’s image. ‘Those other three jars are ours -- Mother’s, yours, and mine. They look like fine pottery but are the result of my spells.’ As long as the jars remained, Geordanna, Jilissi, and their mother would live. The breaking of the spell would mean disaster.
What Jilissi didn’t know was that Esto’s last fight had not been in the physical realm. Realizing too many of their kind were still in captivity, he had gone into deep meditation to spirit train with his fighting forces. While Geordanna used her mystic teachings to develop her knowledge of transfiguration, Esto had taken to meditation and had learned to cast spirit in a way that it could take on physical form. Geordanna’s skill enabled her to entomb a portion of her and her family members’ souls, hidden from view in a secret tomb, safe from the ills of war. This surity was especially important for Esto, who often sent his spirit to battle in the human world. Many times his forms had perished, but he always came back because of his sister. But this time, something had gone wrong.
She opened her mouth to tell Jilissi what she knew of Esto’s final battle, but as she probed her sister’s mind again, Geordanna realized something wasn’t right. Jilissi’s eyes were dim and her mouth was slack. In the mirror scroll, Jilissi’s jar turned to dust and Geordanna cried out in anguish and fury. To the messenger, she said, ‘I need you to take a message back to Grand Mage, Jasaeda the Wise.’ He handed her the scroll and she used her finger to transcribe a spell. ‘She will need support once she receives this, so go to the Council so they can summon the doctors.’
The messenger tucked the scroll into its case and slung it over his shoulder. ‘What shall I say about you?’
Geordanna’s tears hit the floor with a sound like breaking glass. She scraped a wrist across her eyes, since there was no time to mourn. The loss of their father had left their mother in ruins. Esto’s demise had dropped her deeper into madness. The death of her sister, her most beloved daughter, was too dire for Geordanna to contemplate. Theirs had never been a close union, but Geordanna was determined to do what she could to comfort her mother, even though she would have to go on without three fourths of her own heartbeat.
She began the spell that would send the messenger to the Council chamber. Geordanna squared her shoulders. ‘Tell them I will scour the lands for those who will stand with me. I am the last of the free Djinn, daughter of Maakhassed the Venerated and Jasaeda the Wise, sister to Jilissi the Grand Mage and Esto the War-crier. I have lost all that is most dear to me.’ She ignored the look of surprise on the messenger’s face and as the spell took effect and he began to disappear, Geordanna called out, ‘Tell them I will be avenged in the name of my father and siblings. Tell them our kind will be free!’