((This took place over Friday and Saturday. Arnold drafted the post, and I edited it lightly.))
Junie Ginsburg rolled over in her bed and opened her eyes, to find Erehwon floating next to her with a smile. Junie rolled out of bed screaming in a panic, entangled in her sheets and trying to get her bearings.
“A pity, I was hoping you would speak while you dreamt,” Erehwon said while staring down at Junie on the ground.
Junie’s eyes went wide and she wondered what would have happened if she did talk in her sleep, she wasn’t sure she did or not… she wouldn’t be able to sleep again until they sorted this mess out, and there was no telling when that would be!
“How did you get here, you went back into the bottle!” Junie screamed as she backed away.
“You have released me,” Erehwon explained with a tilt of her head and a grin that revealed fangs. “I’m free to visit you whenever I like for now.”
Junie ran out of her room and slammed the door. When nothing happened she peeked back inside and there was no one there… she shook her head and got properly dressed. She went to see Doctor Sonnerstein, but he wasn’t there. She left a note and went back to her home for the time being and started making breakfast. She had decided to try making another Emerson recipe, and she had just begun boiling the concoction when a face appeared inside the pot. Junie backed away from it in fear of Erehwon, but that just caused her to back into the woman.
“AUGH!” She screamed and backed into the stove and knocked over the pot spilling it’s contents everywhere and almost burning her hands and ruining her clothes. “Oh no, I… ” She didn’t dare say anything else about it though when Erehwon’s earrings jingled a bit and she remembered she was being careful about what she said, lest she make some wish about it that would drown her in her own food or something else horrible she couldn’t even begin to imagine. “Mumsy!?” She cried.
“She’s not here Miss Ginsburg. I think she may have left this abode when she learned you were cooking,” the djinnified Erehwon explained with another fanged grin. “Now, tell me your hearts desires… you must have many, you need only share the one you want most of all, and it will be yours.”
Junie shook her head, “I’m not ready yet!”
Erehwon stared at her for a long time and then bowed her head, “Very well Miss Ginsburg, but know that if you do not make a boon with me soon that you will have to replace me within my bottle.” Junie felt the color leave her face and she backed away, forgetting that she’d just spilt the pot and she slipped and fell.
Erehwon looked her up and down. “You have lovely red hair, I think you would be rather fetching as you were summoned from the bottle, wearing a just a golden necklace and loose, diaphanous green pants. You’ll have to lose the cigar.”
The Djinn looked at Junie, waiting for a reaction, but when she didn’t say anything she departed for the moment.
Miss Ginsburg could not escape it seemed, as Erehwon followed her everywhere and popped out at the wrong times. She could swear she could see her in mirrors and windows, but when she turned to look there was nothing there. She was afraid to open her mouth even when she didn’t see her in the fear that she may accidentally ask for that ‘boon’ without knowing it.
She got word eventually to everyone and they were able to meet in the Cocoa Java. Maddox and Heliotrope Lionheart were there but they didn’t appear to know what was going on, though Arnold appeared to be informing them when Junie arrived a frazzled and disturbed woman at wits end.
“Should I summarize like I did for Kristos this morning?” Arnold then brought them up to date on several situations going around in town, and not just on the matter at hand, and none of it sounded very pleasant.
Heliotrope rolled his eyes. “Babbage.”
“Hello, folks. I see I’ve stepped into a cheerful conversation,” Junie said in greeting.
“Hello Ms Junie…” Maddox Lionheart said, and her husband asked for a little more detail about the current situation.
“Well, right now we have Erehwon stuck in her bottle,” Arnold began, and before Junie could very enthusiastically explain that she was not Erehwon said something about a bug and then appeared on her own anyways.
“… she’s STUCK? Why did you let her back into that thing?” Maddox had been asking her familiar, who defended his actions and indicated how she’d changed.
As they spoke, a stream of dark grey smoke issued from the bottle on the floor of the Cocoa Java’s library, thickend and Erehwon, her skin coal black, materialized. She strolled over to the group, hips swinging, and fixed her glowing eyes on Junie.
“Ms Ginsburg, I would desire to know your boon.” Erehwon said, and it seemed to Junie like she was implying this was her last chance and she cringed.
“Oh… do be careful, Junie.” Maddox said, as she realized finally just how terrible the situation might have become. Arnold was staring intently at Junie now, but he wasn’t saying anything, but Junie couldn’t keep his or anyone else’s gaze at the moment except for Erehwon’s, so she looked at the floor and did her best not to rock back and forth.
Heliotrope and Erehwon exchanged glances, and eventually hissed, “Cousin demon.”
“Junie, I’d advise you to take care with your words,” Heliotrope said and then turned back to Erehwon and nodded, “Djinni. No need to be harsh, let us be compatriots.”
Erehwon turned back to Ginsburg, “You you have brought him here to counsel you?”
“I offer only a bit of advice, Djinni, nothing more.” Heliotrope stated.
Junie was about to speak and then bit her lip nervously, she did have a wish in mind now, but what if her wish only lead her to a worse fate instead?
Arnold hadn’t broken his gaze at Junie and he spoke softly, “I know what you should ask for. But I’m not going to say it unless you ask.”
Junie looked at him for a moment puzzled, but when he didn’t say anything else she turned back to Erehwon to make sure she understood before she made the wish she’d thought up on her own, “Sooo… anything I ask for, you are going to grant?”
“Yes, Ms Ginsburg.” Erehwon nodded with a grin.
“But you must be careful what you ask for,” Maddox said quickly and her husband nodded.
Erehwon Yoshikawa’s eyes flash. “Witch, you think I am here to trick her?”
“No. Not at all. I simply warn her to be wary of her own desires.”
Junie sighed and continued her previous train of thought, “So… there is a high likelihood that anything I ask for can be misconstrued in a rather… unpleasant way. Is that about the sum of it?” That meant the wish she had thought of would undoubtedly backfire.
Arnold continued to stare at her intently, while Maddox looked at her husband and sighed, those two weren’t offering her any help, and so Junie glanced at Arnold and then back at Erehwon again and again, and in the end she motioned Arnold to come closer. She then whispered: “What do I do?”
Arnold whispered in her ear, while Erehwon and everyone else watched on, wondering what the cat had come up with. Junie listened carefully and was slightly confused and had to ask him to clarify once.
While he was doing that Erehwon hadn’t given up trying to capture her attention, “Now, Ms Ginsburg, your fondest desire? Is it Wealth? Pleasure beyond worldly bounds?” Erehwon practically purred, “Power?”
“Well, her loveliness certainly hasn’t diminished with the transformation.” Heliotrope muttered and his wife actually agreed—whose side were they on? Heliotrope then turned and grinned at Erehwon, “Only I know her dreams, wish-granter.”
Miss Yoshikawa looked at Heliotrope, “Share them with your cousin.”
Junie sat up straight and her face twisted into a horrified expression at Helio.
The professor snorted, “We both know it does no good, it must be her voice and her lips making the wish.”
Junie calmed down a little, and then quickly whispered back to Arnold and he said one final thing and then stepped back. Junie nodded again and takes a deep breath, hoping that his idea would work.
Erehwon looked at her with a grin, “Now, Daughter of Eve. What is your boon?”
“Alright, Erehwon, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.” Junie said, and began to ready herself for what may come next. “Should I stand or something? Put my hand over my heart? What’s the protocol for wish-making?”
“No, You can sit there.” Erehwon informed her and came even closer. She stood barely a hair’s length away. “Your wish, Miss Ginsburg.”
Junie squinted with the mounting tension of what she was about to say, “Alright. My wish then, Miss Erehwon, is that today I came up with a wish that outwitted you this day and that nothing you could do could change this truth that I outwitted your designs.”
Erehwon Yoshikawa looked at Junie Ginsburg, obviously thinking now about what she had just heard. Junie didn’t see this though because she had closed her eyes tightly, expecting to be zapped into nothingness Heliotrope murmured to himself in the mean time, also thinking about the wish he’d just heard.
It was Arnold who looked at Erehwon and said, “Anything you do that changes this or causes a side effect would mean she didn’t outwit you.” Arnold had explained to Junie that it basically meant that no matter what Erehwon thought of that might be clever, she couldn’t implement them because it would directly go against her wish that said she’d outwitted anything she might design. “Therefore you can’t add any other affect or use your own interpretation without going directly against her boon to outwit you.”
Junie hadn’t been so sure, but when she felt no difference she cautiously opens one eye to find a frustrated Erehwon still standing in front of her
“Confound you!” Erehwon yelled at her, and Junie quickly reached into her pockets for a flask and got out a cigar. “Oh, my.” Erehwon said as her body began to shimmer, lose it’s solidity ,and she vanished back into her bottle as Junie smoked.
“What’s happening to her now?” She asked.
“She was forced back into the bottle for now. But at least you don’t have to worry of her following you everywhere.” Arnold said, and then looked at Heliotrope. “Right Professor?”
Junie exhaled with relief as Heliotrope said that she had probably been forced back into her bottle thanks to a clause in the ‘demonic accords’, whatever those were, that had probably caused her to reset. “That is… really strange.” Junie said as she continued to smoke, but whatever had caused it she was just glad it had happened!
Erehwon called out from her bottle, sounding like herself again and asking if Junie was all right, and when she found out she was she cried, “She didn’t get blown up!”
Junie took an especially long draw on her cigar, and then screamed, “I’m not touching that bottle again!”
“I don’t blame you,” Arnold muttered loud enough for everyone to hear.
“Ereh, we will find a way to put you right! I promise!” Maddox reassured her, and her husband added, “Stay strong.”
“Hold on,” Erehwon said, and in a rush of smoke, materialized from her bottle again.
Junie was about to faint, even after she realized that Erehwon’s skin had returned to it’s normal, pinkish, flesh color. “She’s out of the bottle again… and her skin is light!”
Erehwon blinked slowly as the smoke thinned around her, looked down at her arms and hands, and then relaxed, saying: “Oh, thank the Lady!”
“I… Are you… Ereh, what happened?” Maddox said as she rubbed her head.
“Oh, my god. Ms Ginsburg, I didn’t mean to cause you such a scare!” She ran up to Junie. “Forgive me?”
Junie Ginsburg smiled in relief, “Of course, Ms. Erehwon. I understand that you weren’t quite… yourself.”
“Do you have memory of what just happened, Ms Yoshikawa?” Heliotrope asked as Erehwon allowed herself to fall onto the sofa.
Dr. Maddox Lionheart went to hug her friend, who returned the hug, but she looked at everyone confused, “Would someone please tell me what just happened and why?”
Junie took another deep draw on the cigar and said through her teeth, “You and me both, Ms. Maddox.”
“The Dark Aether,” Erehwon said softly, remembering how she had felt next to that canister.
“If I’m right,” Heliotrope said looking thoughtful, “The djinni presence was ‘reset’ if you will, out of her, back to its original state.”
“I… I thought you were gone for good.” Maddox told her and hugged her tightly.
“It brought out my Djinni nature, and not in the best way.”
“I think that was the second time I had to encounter that nature.” Arnold said looking up at them from his position on his back legs, “The first time was on the piste.”
“I knew it wasn’t really you… you called me witch.” Dr. Maddox said.
Heliotrope patted his wife’s shoulder, “Well, you are, my dear.”
“I did?” Erehwon asked, and Junie snickered, the cigar and success were doing wonders for her recovery from this horrid day. Erehwon turned to Junie and said in a serious tone, “We’re not supposed to talk about that.” Erehwon looked at Junie with pleading eyes and mouthed ‘Really, secret.’
Junie leaned back into the cushions. “Talk about the witch part? Or the djinn part?”
“The witch part. Everyone knows I’m the weird girl from Mondrago.”
Junie nodded, “My lips are sealed.”
Erehwon sighed in relief, and then went to find a blanket. She was starting to get cold, and wanted to rest after the ordeal. They stayed up and talked for some time, and that was when Arnold revealed they had another problem. Metier had appeared as an apparition, and they made plans to deal with the threat, in the near future, after they acquired an aetheric valve from the power station.