The shadow genie held perfectly still, leaning against the wall directly across from a pair of delivery doors, waiting for his prey to arrive. He kept his eyes closed, his head bent, and his arms crossed.
It was disgusting to listen to the naivety of Ethan and the wizard as they discussed the girl. They spoke as if she were a mythical saint, a paragon of self-control who could own genies yet withhold herself from ostentatious wishes. Clearly, it was a tactical front. She was choosing not to draw attention to herself as she gathered the genies, so she could either sell them on the black market later or use them for some other grand scheme.
All humans were greedy vermin, and those with genies used them to build empires and fulfill their every whim while stepping on the wills and dreams of those around them—especially their genies.
It wasn’t often he had the opportunity to give a human what they deserved, but he relished every chance. Even if he was only able to do it at the wish of a master. He would do his very best to circumvent the confines of Ethan’s wish that he not break the mind of the girl. If he could, he’d turn her into a huddled ball of terror, useless to everyone. Especially to Ethan and Tavor.
If only he could see the look on the universal’s face when he realized his puppet’s strings had been torn and she was just a broken doll. Or at least see the rage on his face when he realized his puppet had betrayed him, had chosen to run away from all the tempting power she was amassing for the sake of her parents. Parents who were even now drowning in terror. He hadn’t done anything irreversible yet, but by the time he was through with the girl, her parents would bear mental scars for years at best.
It would be a good reminder to the girl of the consequences of greed. At least, it would be if her mind lasted the day—and if Ethan allowed her and her parents to live. Since neither was likely, it appeared his lesson would go to waste. That was what he got for trying to be responsible: wasted effort.
The doors across from him squeaked open, the hinges squealing in protest. He raised his head, opening his eyes. At first, all he saw was a dark silhouette surrounded by shining light from the rising sun. Then a girl stepped forward and for a moment he couldn’t breathe.
Bright. That was the only thought in his head. She was so bright, with a halo around her, like a savior appearing. She stumbled the next moment, ruining his analogy, but this was clearly the imprint he’d sensed at the college when tracking the three idiot brothers. He should have expected to see the bright imprint here today. It had clearly been involved when the ice genie had disappeared, but he’d somehow forgotten that. Even if he hadn’t, it wouldn’t have prepared him for seeing her in person.
It almost seemed like this being, with an imprint so different from any he’d encountered, couldn’t possibly be human, but she trembled like any other pathetic human faced with a force greater than themselves. From her feet to her hands to her lips, she quivered in her jeans and hoodie. She looked more like a terrified runaway than a genie hunter.
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