I managed to get something on the page today. I started yesterday’s attempt over.
There’s a time machine, but I haven’t decided what this time machine looks like. The TARDIS is already taken. Oh well. Something will come to mind.
Thanks for reading.
Time Travelers, Witches, and Saints: A Compendium of Lesser Known Time Travelers and Other Terrors
Tessa and Shireen argued over whether or not to save the Queen.
“Let her hang like my sisters,” Shireen declared.
“She’s a prisoner of the King,” Tessa argued.
Shireen rolled her eyes. “Many are his prisoners. Let’s save them.”
“We can save everyone,” Tessa said. “We have a time machine.”
“It’s not a miracle maker though, is it?”
Tessa was already working the controls. “No. That’s you.”
“I really should put a stick in your spokes.” Shireen stared up at the wall of lights and buttons and levels and dials.
Tessa laughed and the time machine came to a stop. “Let’s just see how she is.”
Shireen put on her jacket. It was her magicians jacket, black velvet and high collared. The hidden pockets held many odd things that only she understood and could find. “Popping in on the Queen. Won’t she be pleased.”
The door opened to what seemed to be a lounge of some kind. A grand piano stood near the crystal balcony doors. Gem-colored roses bloomed in great gold drums in every corner and aside from the two gold high-backed chairs against a far wall, there was nowhere to sit.
“Should I plop myself down on a throne?” She grinned and winked at Tessa. Striding over to the chairs, she took a closer look at them. “Ugly things.”
“This isn’t a throne room. They’re just chairs.”
“Oh, Tess. You’re so clueless sometimes. They may not be the thrones, but they’re obviously meant to be thrones. C’mon.”
Tessa was looking around the room, turning her wheelchair around several times. “You sit if you want,” she said distractedly. “I’m fine right here.” She patted the armrests.
Shireen snorted, but she didn’t sit down. She didn’t care about the likely punishment if caught, but the less touched the better.
“But look,” Tessa said. “Look at that wall. The shelves.”
“Shelves? They have books?” But she looked, and the King and the Queen did not have books. They had shelves of lamps, silver, copper, and brass. “What in the seven hells…?”
Tessa wheeled herself over to them. “They’ve captured at least a hundred jin.”
“I heard rumors the jin were going missing, but…are you sure? Maybe they’re just trinkets for show.” Shireen approached the wall and held out a hand. Almost immediately she pulled her hand back. “I can feel them.”
Tessa looked at her questioningly.
Shireen stepped as close as she dared to the wall. “I’m not a magician for nothing. I can feel their hearts beat.” She carefully put up both hands this time as if feeling for something invisible. “There’s a spell here, protecting them.”
“Imprisoning them,” Tessa replied.
“They are jin, Tess. Can you imprison a prison?”
Tessa’s eyes narrowed. “Jin aren’t meant to be at the command of one man.”
The voice behind them made them both jump. “Or woman?” The Queen had drifted into the room unheard, in her thin gold gown and diamond crown. “I don’t believe you’ve been properly announced.”
Shireen smoothly stepped closer to Tess.
“Nor do I recall sending out invitations.”
“We came to rescue you, Your Majesty,” Tessa said. “We—”
“You can’t go around collecting jin like ornaments,” Shireen cut in. “They don’t exist for you.”
The Queen nodded and glided over to the piano on top of which rested a gold-plated bowl filled to the brim with almond-sized diamonds. “Rescue?” she plucked a diamond from the bowl.
“We know you haven’t left the tower in years. Is that not true?” Tessa asked, tossing Shireen a warning look.
“I’m the Queen. Why would I leave?”
Shireen took a moment to steady her breath and at her thick brown hair, its wild curls bouncing back into place as she let them fall from her finger. “Why do you the jin? You don’t need them.”
The Queen rolled the diamond between her fine pale fingers. “They give me everything.”
“What? You have everything. You have this Kingdom and soon you’ll have a dozen more. The King—”
“Please don’t talk politics to me.” The Queen looked very bored and placed a diamond on her tongue. She swallowed.
“You just…” Shireen stared and pointed at the Queen. “You just swallowed a diamond.”
Tessa moved closer to Shireen. “Ree,” she whispered.
The Queen brightened. “Why yes. I can eat whatever I please now.”
“But…” Shireen glanced down at her time traveling companion.
“We should go,” Tessa whispered.
“The jin give me what I wish without fail,” the Queen said. “And I think…” She sauntered ever so slowly over to the wall of lamps. “It’s time for me to make another wish. For my guests.”
Shireen understood what she needed to do. She released a cloud of smoke and grabbed Tessa’s hand. In a flash they vanished from the Queen’s sight and reappeared in the time machine. They set to work and sent the machine whirring and spinning back in time.
The machine rocked to a stop in the past. “If she wishes for a jin to find us,” Tessa said, “we will be in trouble.”
“The jin will have to know where to look,” Shireen said. “The machine’s untraceable, right? Even for a jin?”
They looked around the small space as if something might set it to tumbling. “She probably only wanted to scare us,” Tessa replied. She worked the controls again. The more they moved, the harder they’d be to find.
“I told you she didn’t want rescuing.”
Tessa focused on the buttons and dials. “No. But with my heart as a witness, we’ll save the jin.”
“And kill the Queen?” Shireen asked. She was looking down at her beautiful magicians coat. Not a bit of lint marred its midnight velvet.
“No, Ree. Absolutely not.”
Shireen nodded and slipped her hands into her pockets. At least a dozen spells brushed up against her fingers. “Of course,” she said quietly.
And the time machine began another flight through time and space.