Trik sat on the edge of a building, high above the desolate city streets among stone gargoyles and a large clock face. He was ridiculously high up, and if he extended his wings, he could pretend that he was considering flying. And for a moment, he did.
Stranger things had happened. He had wings; they were meant to fly. So many things that weren't meant to happen did – it would be a nice change.
Spread before him like a feast, the city of Next Zenith shone in hues of sandy brown and muted gold. In one corner of the city, small curls of smoke still rose from the leveled remains of St. Cathmor's Chapel. The smoke mingled with the sky, today painted a shade of angry gray. In the human's dimension, Trik knew he was a million times more vulnerable, but he was also a million times for powerful.
Look at him now. Higher than even the angels. He had to laugh.
"Pretty, isn't it?"
Trik spun around, for a moment truly expecting the haunted face of an angel to appear out of the shadows. But it was only Xarline, Kajun at her side warily.
Trik nodded in the prophet's direction. "Yes, it is."
She settled herself down on the ledge, dangling her thin legs over the edge. "Most terrible things are," she said in her sing-song voice, a small smile crossing her face as she said it. She snuck a look at Trik, her eyes twinkling.
With a sigh, Trik sat down beside her. "Xarline," he began, "what did I do wrong?"
"What do you mean? You did nothing wrong, traitor's son," the prophet replied lightly, but the title no longer stung like it had before.
"Well." Trik leaned his head back and stared at the sky. "For the first thing, we certainly haven't been led into the light by a dragon and a black flower and a fighter or whatever."
"Or have we?" Xarline replied cryptically, but Trik only shrugged. He had no patience for poetry.
"And Gypsy's dead, which you never mentioned before."
This time it was Xarline who shrugged. "Dead? I wouldn't say she was dead, Trik."
"Xarline." Trik's voice was drained. "She got blasted by the Fey, the building collapsed into itself, and the entire place was engulfed in evil black fire. I doubt even the likes of Gypsy made it out of there alive."
"I never said she was alive," Xarline replied mysteriously.
Trik stared at her for several long moments, perhaps hoping for some sort of elaboration, but Xarline only puckered her lips into a constrained smile. Trik sighed heavily.
Kajun placed one withered hand on the trace shaman's shoulder. "Trik, she saved the city. She saved us all. Surely this is how she'd have wanted to go."
Trik looked at Kajun as though he'd completely lost it. "Kajun, this is Gypsy Tanner we're talking about. She always had a backup plan, some sort of grand scheme that we were all inadvertently a part of. This wasn't her plan. There's no way. She had it all figured out. And I really doubt she went into that building because she wanted to save her city."
Kajun looked thoughtful. "Maybe she thought she went in there for something else, but what she really wanted to do was save all those lives." He tried to put comfort in his voice. "All those lives, saved, because of you and Gypsy. Think of those lives, not just Gypsy's, Trik."
"Because of me and Gypsy? I didn't do anything!" Trik exclaimed incredulously.
"Well, yeah. But that's not what I intend to tell the Synod," Kajun said offhandedly.
At one point that would have delighted Trik. Now it only depressed him. "More lies. Exactly what we need."
"Shhh…" Xarline murmured. Kajun and Trik swiveled around to look at her. She held one black finger to her lips, extending her other hand down towards the city. "Listen. If you listen hard enough, you can hear them singing."
For a moment, all three djinn sat in silence, eyes cast down on the human's city. The sun began to crest over the horizon, and it carried with it the first hint of spring. Kajun and Xarline saw a new beginning in that rising sun. Trik saw the end of an age, but somehow, it lightened the load.
Only then did it hit him. "Xarline," he said sharply. "I can't believe I forgot. I never burned the book."
"Of course not!" Xarline replied, her voice high-pitched, as if pointing out the obvious. "How could you have burned the book yet? It's not over, Trik. Not by a long shot."
Trik and Kajun only stared at her blankly. Xarline sighed heavily. "This is hardly our happily ever after, you two. We missed it this time, but until we finally get it, the ending is still up for grabs." Her eyes shone as she cast them back towards the ground. "From the ranks of enemies old, making lies of truths once told, the black flower from times of late, among those figures white with hate. Find her quickly, find her sure, do the ones of intentions pure, save her quickly, save her soul, before it burns like Cathmor's coal. Dragon burns in the lies she gave, fighter leaves flowers at her grave, before the song is sung once more, shake the world at its core."
Xarline twiddled her thumbs. "With time, my friends, one of us will have all that they desire. But until then," she said as she rose, whipping the shadows from around her so her reply was just a whisper on the wind, "keep on singing."
Kajun and Trik exchanged a long look. Finally, Kajun sighed. "Look, Xarline might think that Gypsy's coming back. And I'm not saying that she's wrong," he said slowly. "But I want you to realize, Trik, what you did here." He gestured vaguely in the direction of the city. "You saved lives. Not many djinn know how to do that anymore. You may not have saved hers, but hers was probably not up for saving anyway."
As Kajun vanished as well, Trik stood on the edge of the clock tower, his hand laying on the head of a gargoyle, caught in a memory of a boy with a dragon tattoo and an uneasy smile.
Yes. He knew where to start. And if she did return, he'd be ready for her. He would make sure of it.
For once in his life, Trik had a plan.
Honestly, I was sure I would never get to write this last chapter. I haven't finished a story for years now, but here you go: THE END. God, writing those words is ridiculously rewarding.
The end of Djinn & Gypsy.
And then the stupid follow up response: what next?
Well, the good news is that the sequel is being planned as we speak (Fey & Fairies, for anyone interested). I'm probably going to put that one on hiatus while I work on a new story (Matte) and have Djinn & Gypsy edited and revised and all that - here's your time to shine, Alix! So, thanks for everyone who has put up with Djinn & Gypsy and my frequent writer's block, specifically drsunie and Alix Cohen, who actually can be relied on to leave reviews for my chapters. So, yeah, [insert words of gratitude here] and all that.
So happy I can finally mark this one as COMPLETE. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to celebrate with ice cream.