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Monthly Short Story Winner: Well-Known Fairy Tales from a Different Point of View

Marid Djinn by Vicente Segrelles

We know these stories by heart – but only from the hero’s POV. Did you ever think about the motivation and justification the big bad wolf had for eating Red Riding Hood’s Grandma? Maybe he was the good guy and we got it all wrong? Remember, the winners write history and they never picture themselves as the bad guys.

Rules:

1. This must be prose or poetry.
2. This must be a retelling of a well-known fairy tale
3. Prose must be 500-1500 words long.
4. Poetry must be 100-500 words long.

This month’s winning story was by Lanko (@Lanko88 on Twitter), with “The Magical Lamp”.

Congrats on your win, Lanko!

You can find all our entries here.

And now on with the story!

– – –

“The Magical Lamp”
by Lanko

An old man traveled across the desert and arrived at a small town. He asked for water and food, but no one helped him. A woman offered him shelter, and he accepted. She had three sons, all in their early teens.

“Who’s this dirty old man?” said the tallest one.

“A traveler in need of shelter, son.”

“Is he gonna pay us?” asked the youngest.

“To your rooms! Now!”

The boys begrudgingly obeyed and slammed their doors shut.

The woman sighed. “Sorry about this. They lost their father in the war last year. I wish he had never left, so we could have remained a happy family.”

At dinner, the boys mocked the old man, despite the mother’s protests. One boy said that gold was the most important thing, the other it was power and the other said it was women.

This got the old traveler’s attention and he offered to tell the true tale of the magical lamp and about people’s greed.

* * *

A long time ago, djinns and humanity fought a war and the humans won with the help of the gods. All djinns were killed, except for one. His wrists were locked in golden manacles and a lamp was his prison. He was sentenced to realize humans’ wishes, a mocking punishment for the attempt to destroy the gods’ greatest creation.

His first master was a rustic man. “Djinn, give me the most powerful weapon in the world so I can be the greatest warrior of all!”

The djinn then forged an unbreakable scimitar, its blade able to cut through rock and metal, and gave it to the warrior. He went to battle right away and was killed right away by his first opponent. The scimitar was gifted to the sultan and no one knew the name of the warrior.

Because he wished for the most powerful weapon, but not for the skill to wield it.

A scavenger found the lamp and summoned the djinn. “I want so much gold that I will become the richest man in the world!”

The djinn then dug a giant golden nugget from the mines of the gods themselves, a nugget taller than a tree and larger than a river; it shook the earth when it fell from the heavens. The scavenger embraced it, dreaming of everything he would have, but his treasure was too heavy and he could not move it. He spent days trying, and soon the entire kingdom knew about the treasure and fought for it.

The sultan had an army and easily claimed the gold and moved it to his palace. The scavenger died in the battle and another spent his wealth.

Because he wished for gold, but not for the strength to carry it.

The vizier came into possession of the magical lamp. “The sultan has the blade of heavens, all the gold in the world and his daughter is the most beautiful woman to have walked the earth. Grant me power, djinn, so I can take all that as mine.”

The djinn visited the guardians who watched over the volcanoes, oceans, mountains and skies of the world, received their blessing and granted the vizier command over the elements and inhuman strength and speed.

Now a powerful sorcerer, he attacked the palace with lightning and fire and fought dozens of men by himself. The sultan fled the capital.

On the first day ruling, the vizier married the princess and declared all the people were now his slaves. As he was taking the princess to his chambers, he felt a sharp pain in his chest and fell dead. The sultan returned, restored everything back to normal and the vizier was left to rot on the desert, as nobody cared to dig him a grave.

Because he wished for power, but not for the longevity to abuse it.

Now the sultan had the magical lamp. Barring sorcery, he was the most powerful and rich man in the world, also regarded by his subjects as just and wise. He spent a month talking to religious leaders, philosophers, teachers, doctors, soldiers and common people, and another month meditating on what he had discussed. Then he said his wish:

“Great djinn, I concluded that the greatest enemy of men is time. Gold, power, wisdom… all this and much more can be obtained by anyone, given time. I want to be free of this restraint. I wish to live forever, so I can see and known all the world has to offer, now and forever, and to also continue to serve and better the lives of my people and kingdom. I wish for immortality.”

The djinn searched the gods themselves for this request. Amused, they gave him their blessing and the djinn bestowed upon the sultan the gift of eternal life.

The sultan was elated, becoming even more generous with his people. He funded artists and scholars, doctors and builders, he himself became immersed in books and scrolls from all over the world.

But years, then decades passed and the sultan felt more and more tired, his sight grew blurrier by the day and his ears required great effort to hear the loudest of noises. He became ill of body and mind; he had difficulty feeding himself, discussed with viziers he did not remember appointing and slept alongside wives he did not remember marrying.

Finally, he could no longer take it, and asked to be killed. But even beheaded, he would not die. The viziers put his head inside a jar and hid it away in the dungeon. Then they waged war upon each other. With the kingdom weakened, a foreign king invaded and razed it, and it would never rise again.

Locked and buried even further beneath the sands of the desert, the sultan despaired at his eternal damnation.

Because he wished for immortality, but not for the youth and health to enjoy it.

During that war, a slave fled the kingdom and carried the magical lamp. He was not born a slave, but was the prince of a kingdom the sultan conquered. He asked the djinn’s story, the first to do it. Learning of what happened to those who had wishes granted, he asked the djinn:

“What is your own wish, granter of wishes?”

“To be free, to avenge my kin and enslave your kind as you did to us, to control this earth, as you, creatures of mud and dirt, are unworthy of it.”

“But then you will be no different than us.”

“You dare compare me, born of the smokeless fire, to you? Why is that?”

“Because you wish for freedom, but only to imprison the whole world.”

The djinn raged, but admitted the hypocrisy. The prince had no land to return, no family or loved ones still alive and so, he traveled to distant lands, doing his best to show the good side of the humans. Slowly, the djinn’s fury quenched and even started liking the humans. They were not all hopeless.

“I was a slave, but that would not last forever. You, however, are bound to eternal servitude. My wish is for your freedom, and you will remain free as long as you never harm a human being.”

The djinn accepted, and his golden manacles fell to the ground, and he fled with joy. The gods allowed this, but forbid him from ever approaching the prince again. The djinn was sad, but learned years later that his golden manacles were sold and that allowed the prince to build a home, a family and live happily until the end of his days.

As for the djinn, he traveled the land, some said he still granted wishes, but only to good people he liked, for he was now a master of his own life.

* * *

The boys all thought the story was ridiculous, mocked the old traveler and went to sleep. The mother apologized on their behalf and prepared a place for the old man to sleep near the fire.

At morning, the woman gave him supplies and wished him good luck. The youngest son gave him a spare set of clothes. The oldest gave nothing, but said he was going out to look for a job. And the other brother was cleaning the house. The mother furrowed her eyebrows at this.

When the old traveler turned a corner, he looked back at the house, and saw a man approaching it. The woman and the children ran to him.

“Father?”

“Husband? I thought you were dead.”

The man shook his head. “I got lost in the desert after the battle. Had no idea where I was going, but today I woke up and the town was right ahead of me. I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.” Then they hugged each other and cried.

The old man resumed his path, satisfied with himself.

Because he wished for hope, and repaid it with kindness.

– – –

Congratulations again to Lanko! If you’d like to enter our monthly writing contest, check out our forum for more information.

Happy Writing!

Title image by Vicente Segrelles.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (8 votes cast)
Monthly Short Story Winner: Well-Known Fairy Tales from a Different Point of View, 10.0 out of 10 based on 8 ratings
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