Growth

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     We jinn are very different from humans. We have a different type of vision which allows us to see certain angels, other jinn, and even humans. Humans can simply see what is allowed by the spectrum of vision. Angels and jinn are only seen in forms they are familiar with. However, even with our differences, we have a common enemy. The greatest conqueror of both man and jinn is time. Our physical structures may be more resilient than those made of clay, but at the end we all succumb to time. Great monarchies have fallen to it, powerful jinni have battled it, and yet time stays unaffected and constant. There is no greater desperation than the final seconds of life when the Angel of Death arrives to receive your soul. In those final moments, you can see every living being asking for one thing, time. 

     Time waits for no one. That was something I learned as I faced Hercules. In front of me stood a young jinni, who no doubt had super strength. Trees had grown, humans had populated the area, and the jinn were mingling amongst the humans. It was as if every rule that had been instilled by my forefathers had been disregarded. Time had marched on while I burned. Time had given birth to a new generation of jinn who knew nothing of our old ways. Hercules looked at me with a mixture of apprehension and fear. 

     "What are you?" Hercules managed as I stood in front of him. 

     "These people are now under my protection," I explained calmly.

     "Tell me what you are!," Hercules demanded, his frustration evident on his own human form.

     "Why? Have you never seen one like me?" I asked calmly.

     "You're not a god. You're not one of us," Hercules spat out and stomped his foot on the the packed ground below his feet. He had strength, but he was child in my eyes. A child that had never heard of an Enlightened jinni, from the obvious confusion on his face.

     "I am one of you, but I am not a god. Nor are you." My words were concise and to the point, something the young jinni seemed to have trouble with. "You used your abilities on a human? Did your elders teach you nothing?"

     "This human was meant to be a sacrifice for my father, the KING of the gods. How DARE you intervene? Now these humans will suffer decades of drought!" Hercules roared, eliciting an outcry from the villagers. 

     "Boy, do not intercede on our behalf. My daughter will sacrifice herself for the greater good," the woman's father explained as if it was the most logical thing in the world. 

     "Is her life worth more or less than yours? Why not sacrifice yourself?" I asked in anger. How could a father, any father, put his child in danger for something as trivial as weather? I looked at the young woman and could see her cradling her chest. She had met a near full blow of a powerful jinni, of course there would be repercussions. "I will protect you and this village. Let him bring his father. I will stand before him."

     "I am immortal. What are you? What creature dare defies a god?!" Hercules roared before picking up a boulder. 

     "You masquerade amongst these beings of clay and have the audacity to call yourself an immortal? I KNOW what you are and it is anything but a god. Take a message to your father from me. Tell him this village and it's inhabitants are under my protection by the grace of our Creator. If he protests, he knows where to find me," I growled before curling my lip in disgust. Hercules looked perplexed. It was obvious that he had never been challenged by anyone in his life. He roared in frustration, dropped the boulder, and then disappeared into the woods that lined the perimeter of the village.

     "What have you done?" The old man asked angrily before swinging an old cane at me. 

     "What have I done? Why do you fear that man?" I asked in confusion before taking the stick from the man and tossing it aside. 

     "Hercules is a demigod. His father is the king of gods. You will bring his wrath down upon us! We are already suffering from a drought, do you wish for us to be smote by lightning as well?" The man asked in anger. The other villagers murmured in agreement and threw me multiple looks of contempt. 

     "Your kindness will bear no fruit here, stranger," the woman who had been offered as a sacrifice finally spoke up. "My father, Agathon, will never see the gods as the troublemakers that they are."

     "Silence, Demetria! What you say is heresy!" Agathon exclaimed while pulling his hand back to slap his daughter. Demetria cowered as the man's hand descended towards her face, but I grasped his arm before his hand could make contact. 

     "And what you were planning to do was murder. What sane individual murders their own children for others? How many of your so-called gods have sacrificed themselves for you?" I asked in anger, pushing the man away from the young woman. 

     "You do not know the ways of this land, stranger," another man called out, pushing his way through the crowd and making his way towards us. Another jinn masquerading as a human. His fire was bright, powerful as well, but not nearly as powerful as my own. It was obvious that this new jinni was sizing me up. He was in cahoots with Hercules, that much was apparent, but I couldn't understand why these jinn were targeting these humans. The jinni's expression changed once he finally studied my own flame. 

     "What are you?" The jinni asked in apprehension. 

     "Restorer of order," I said simply and walked up to the young jinni. I leaned forward so that only he could hear and added, "Warn your leader to return to the old ways. If you do not know them, I will teach them to you. I will not allow our kind to further defile our ways. Go."

     "You will regret this, Restorer. You will regret trifling with the gods of Olympus," the jinni began and then continued with a roar, "REPENT! Repent before the end is nigh, villagers! Repent or suffer the wrath of the gods!"

     "Go, child. Bring your gods. I am here, waiting for them," I murmured and then turned to find the village's leader. 

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