The Flaming Truth
With Pyro in sight, Drake pulled his Zephyr guitar from his back and ran his fingers over the ice cold strings. The guitar sprang to life, pulsating like it had its own heart beating deep within it. It begged him to play; to let its magick loose on the City.
And so he played; a quiet, haunting melody, magick to anaesthetize the soul.
‘NO, NO, NO!’ screamed the Fire-djinn as he danced frenetically upon the ground, his blazing hands stuffing chunks of cotton wool into his ears. ’NO, NO, NO! Not again!’
Drake shook his head and continued playing. They’d been through this routine twice before, so you’d think even a stupid djinn like Pyro would know when to give up and stop fighting it, wouldn‘t you?
The music took effect almost instantly, racing through Pyro’s veins like a fast acting poison, making him incapable of anything except sleep. Pyro fell heavily to the floor, his skin crusting over like the dying embers of a fire, although the smell of petrol still lingered in the air.
Drake stopped playing as Falkor landed beside Pyro’s body. The dragon leaned forward and nudged Pyro with his bearded snout but the djinn didn’t move. Falkor nickered softly but his body remained taut beneath Drake.
‘It’s okay,’ soothed Drake, as he slung his Zephyr across his back. He slid off the dragon and ran his hand along the silky scales lining the side of Falkor’s neck, just below his crest. The dragon nickered again and stretched out his front paw, clamping his green claws around the middle of the djinn’s body. It was only then that the dragon relaxed his stance and allowed Drake to crouch beside Pyro.
Drake knew it wouldn’t be long before Pyro came to; the music’s influence was stronger on certain beings than others and for some reason this djinn was a tricky little guy who woke up almost immediately. He had found this out the first time he had took him in for setting fire to a bin; Drake had gone to tie his hands together and had received a nasty burn on his wrists. Luckily it was nothing that the healers couldn’t fix but Drake would never make the same mistake again.
Pyro woke up, saw Falkor’s deep blue eyes staring back at him, let out a shrill scream and fainted, his head flopping to the side with his long tongue hanging out.
Drake sighed. ‘Now, now Pyro, you know the drill,’ he said leaning in closer, slapping Pyro’s cheek with his cold hand.
‘Huh?’ said Pyro, his red eyes struggling to focus. His face was struck with fear as he caught sight of the dragon again, ‘Just get it off me!’
‘Sorry, can’t do that just yet.’ Drake stared hard into Pyro’s red eyes. ‘You’re going to tell me what you’re doing here.’
‘I…I was just out for a walk-’
The dragon’s foot began to constrict.
‘Tell me the truth Pyro.’
‘I am, I am…I…’ Pyro’s eyes began to bulge in their sockets.
Drake shook his head. ‘See Pyro, I don’t believe you,’ he said tapping his lips with his index finger. He pointed at Falkor. ‘My friend here wouldn’t be trying to squeeze you like a sponge if you were telling the truth. He knows Pyro, he knows if you are lying.’
‘Okay…okay…’ gasped Pyro, struggling for air, ‘ just get the djinn-eater to ease up, please…’
Falkor loosened his grip slightly. ‘Now talk,’ demanded Drake.
‘Thank you.’ Pyro took a deep breath. ‘Okay, I wasn’t just out for a walk, I was feeling a bit hot under the collar, just lost a serious amount of dough on a job I was gonna do, needed to vent my frustration and I just happened to be close to the museum-’
‘Why the museum Pyro, you’ve never gone for anything that big before?’
‘You have done your homework on me, I’m impressed. What can I say? I can’t help it, I love fire! Besides, thought I needed a challenge.’
Falkor began to squeeze down on Pyro‘s body, the bones crunching under his muscular foot.
‘STOP! STOP!’ cried Pyro, ‘I CAN HEAR MY BONES…AH…POPPING!’
‘There’s no point lying. He will kill you if you continue to lie. Just tell the truth and he’ll release you.’
‘Okay, no more games…please…get it to stop.’
‘Alright, I wasn’t here by accident and I wasn’t here to set fire to the place, not this time anyway. I was supposed to steal an artefact for some geezer who summoned me.’
‘In my pocket’ said Pyro flicking his head to the right.
Drake reached down and rummaged in Pyro’s right pocket. ‘Damn it Pyro, what have you…eugh…’ he said, fetching out a small pickled hand that clutched a stub of candle wax. ‘What the hell is this?’ said Drake, his face scrunched up in disgust.
Pyro looked at Drake like he was a leg short of a cauldron. ‘It’s a Hand of Glory.’
‘A Hand of Glory, basically a pickled hand with a candle stuck in between its fingers-’
‘Yeah Pyro, I can see that. What does it do?’
‘Lots of things; it lights the way for thieves, it unlocks things -’
‘It’s a key?’ asked Drake, his eyebrows arched. He turned to look at Pyro. ’Who were you stealing it for?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘What?’ Drake looked at Falkor but the dragon didn’t move an inch. ‘You must have had contact with someone.’
Pyro sighed. ‘Well, this morning I was lying in bed, dreaming about a holiday I was gonna take in Sicily, after I’d off-loaded the stash of Yash Chetana movies me and Tappo had managed to get our hands on, when I was woken by a pain in my gut like I’d been punched by an eight foot Troll. I knew immediately what was happening; I was being summoned.’
‘Summoned by magick?’
‘No, by the Enforcerer’s Office. What d’yez think? Of Course magick,’ said Pyro rolling his red eyes. ‘Anyways, it comes with the job, being a djinn and all that. No way of stopping it once it starts. You just get sucked up,’ he said finishing with a strange sucking noise.
‘Like you say, you’re a djinn, you should be used to it.’
‘True. But this was different. I never saw the geezer’s face, just a shadow and a bright green light, then this voice, all distorted like on those really bad horror movies, commanded me to obey. I was told what to steal and when, and I was under strict instructions to keep it safe until it was needed. It said that if I put so much as a finger wrong I would be found and put in a chest freezer for all eternity, imagine that, a pyromaniac encased in a freezer. The cruelty of it!’
Even in the dragon’s tight grip Drake could see Pyro shudder.
‘Yeah, my heart bleeds for you. When were you supposed to give them the Hand?’
‘I don’t know, I was told I would be summoned again.’
Drake gave Pyro a sharp look. ‘Did you recognise the voice?’
Drake studied Falkor with a furrowed brow and sighed, before stuffing the Hand of Glory back into the djinn’s pocket. ’Well, the Enforcerer’s Office can deal with that,’ he said, wiping his hand on Pyro’s trousers, ‘and now I must deal with you.’ He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small glass vial.
‘Oh Drake, come on…no.’ Pyro shook his head, ‘Please not that, oh come on, there’s no need for that, I’ll be good, go in quietly, like a good boy, just not the sleeping draft, it makes me dribble.’
‘Sorry Pyro, my friend,’ said Drake, his face lit up with a devilish smile. ‘Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone about your problem.’ The stopper gave a loud pop as Drake pulled it from the vial.
‘I hate you, Devil‘s spawn!’ spat Pyro, just as two drops of the grey liquid touched his lips. His body fell limp and he immediately began to snore.
Drake scooped up Pyro and laid him on Falkor’s back, ready to be handed in.
Eugh! That smell…