This was… Where in the… Khait started looking around. Aside from the two women staring at him, he saw no one else around. He also saw a hole in the ceiling, a lot of sand, and best of all, no angry dragon-goddesses. Things were looking up, mostly. “Didst thou sayeth…?” He glanced down at himself, then shrugged. Naturally. Stark naked. Well, that should make things easy, though neither of the women before him had averted their eyes. The dark-skinned one was staring with a clearly appreciative expression, and the brown haired one looked at him as though he had tracked dog feces through her parlor. And they were both dressed… in trousers that cut off at the knees. Well, if you could call it dressed.
“Who the hell are you, and where did you come from?” The brunette’s words were strange. It took him a few moments to puzzle out what she had said.
“Khait, my lady.” He bowed. “I cometh…” He paused, and looked around. “Whither art we?” He took a step toward them, then caught a glimpse of himself in a metallic decoration set into the wall. Sure enough, he was indeed nude, but that wasn’t the part that concerned him. He glanced at himself, then looked back at the women. One of them had to have summoned him, but why… “Wherefore hath mine appearance not changeth?” If she was one of Isis’s adherents, he might be in a little trouble.
“Why the hell are you talking like that?”
Twice now she’d invoked hell. He couldn’t decide if that were good or bad. “Thy tongue is an oddity.”
“Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?” The dark-skinned woman started snickering. “Or weareth nothing at all?” Her accent was different than the other one’s. Slightly more familiar, though there was a mocking tone to her words. “Seriously, how drunk are you?”
“Methinks I be sober…” He shrugged. “Could beest mine mistake.” He had been drunk, before Isis had… No, she’d drugged him. Somehow. Hadn’t she?
“Yeah, I’ll bet your mistaken. Right…” The dark-skinned woman whistled. “Not that I don’t appreciate the show, but we might want to get you some clothes.”
“Doth thee plan to acquire proper attire?” He raised an eyebrow.
“I’m getting the professor.” The brunette ran a hand down her face.
“Stop starring.” Bridget elbowed Abigail.
“Sorry.” Abigail didn’t look at all apologetic.
She’d given her cardigan to the man to wrap around himself before bringing him back to tent that served as Professor Kravitz’s office. Professor Kravitz had quickly provided a blanket, but she hadn’t reclaimed her cardigan from where it sat on the corner of the table. Professor Kravitz was shaking his head in disbelief. “He was taking a nap in one of the tombs?”
“As near as I can tell.” Bridget sighed. “Sleeping off a bender. Though I’m pretty sure he’s still drunk.”
“I swear, he was not there when I looked in earlier.” Abigail shook her head.
“Young man, what is your name?” Professor Kravitz raised an eyebrow.
“Khait.” The young man inclined his head.
“That’s what he said earlier too.” Bridget nodded.
“Khait.” Professor Kravitz slowly nodded. “What are you doing on my dig site?”
“I wast…” Khait paused. He glanced at Bridget, then back at the professor, then shrugged. “Sleeping off a bendar.”
“Are you a local?”
Khait blinked. “A local what?”
Professor Kravitz took a deep breath. “Are you a resident from a nearby area?”
“I…” Khait frowned and titled his head as he considered the question. “Yes?”
“I think you are right about him still being drunk.” Professor Kravitz sighed. “Young man, where are your clothes and other belong —” He cut off as Khait stood, letting the blanket fall away, and walked over to the table to begin frowning at the map spread out on it. “Young man.” Khait started touching the map and shaking his head. “Khait!”
“Whither est mine home?” Khait stared down at the map. “Thine cartographer…”
“Hey, Khait?” Abigail folded her arms. “Put pants on.”
“Pants?” Khait gave her a confused look.
“Pants. Trousers. Leg-coverings.” Bridget rolled her eyes.
The professor grabbed the blanket again and draped it over Khait’s shoulders. “Young man, there are ladies present.” He frowned, then gave Khait a concerned look. “Young man, are you alright?”
“No.” Khait’s voice was quiet.
Abigail frowned in the direction of the first aid tent before entering the tent she shared with Bridget. “Do you think he’s okay?”
“I don’t know. The Professor is concerned he might be concussed or something.” Bridget wrapped her arms around her knees as she sat down on her cot.
“Maybe someone drugged him and dumped him out in the desert to die, and he managed to crawl to shelter.” She gave a small shudder.
“I wish I knew what was going on.” Bridget sighed.
“What wouldst thee ask?” They both jumped at the sound of Khait’s voice. He sat cross-legged on the floor between their cots. Thankfully, this time he was wearing pants. Sweatpants he’d apparently borrowed from someone.
“Okay.” Abigail took a deep breath. “He was not there a moment ago.”
“I cometh at which hour thou hast called.” Khait shrugged before standing up.
“Stop talking like that.” Bridget glared at him.
Khait opened his mouth, then closed it again. He opened his mouth and his jaw seemed to work silently for a moment. He closed his mouth, then frowned before his eyes suddenly widened. He pointed at her. “Aha!” He gave an elaborate bow, actually extending a leg and arm in troubadour style. He looked up at Bridget and looked her over. His eyes locked onto the ring. “Aha.”
“Why are you aha-ing me?” Bridget scrambled away from him. “Stop aha-ing me.” His mouth worked silently again, then he shook his head irritably. “Why are you aha-ing me?” He gave Bridget an elaborate eye roll. “Stop doing that.” She shook her head at him, and he gave her a frustrated look.
She felt a small chill travel down her spine. “Bridget.”
“What?” Bridget looked up at her.
“You told him not to talk.” Abigail gave Khait a curious look. Immediately he nodded to Bridget and pointed at Abigail.
“I…” Bridget frowned. “Okay. Khait. You can talk.”
“Within this wall of flesh, there is a soul that counts thee its creditor, mine fair lady.” He bowed again.
“Okay, you can talk but knock off the Shakespeare bullshit.”
“I doth not take thy meaning.” Khait tilted his head at her. “But if’t be true that is they command, I shalt endeavour to obey.”
“Talk like a normal person!” Bridget stood up, shaking her head. “How did you get into our tent?”
“At thy summons.” Khait grinned. “At thy wish.”
“Time out.” Abigail made the time-out gesture. “Khait.” She hesitated a moment. The idea was ludicrous, but… “You showed up when Bridget put on that ring.”
“Fair negress, thou art as —”
“Oh, knock that shit off right now.” She started shaking her head and glaring.
He blinked when he realized Bridget was also glaring at him. “I has’t offended?”
“Oh yeah.” Abigail folded her arms.
Things were not quite going as he expected. He’d been given a mirror, and as he’d noted in the other chamber, his appearance had not changed. If he was, in fact, bound to the gem, then his appearance should have altered to match the desires of his new ‘mistress’. Perhaps Isis had screwed up the spell? But then, when the woman had given him an order, the power had surged up, forcing him to obey.
The idea that Isis had made a mistake was both relief and concern. She’d bound him to obey, but in so doing had forgotten what he was. Khait directed his smile at the woman wearing the ring, putting power behind it. “I beg forgiveness, mine lady.” He made his eyes wide, and took a step forward with the intent of kissing her hand.
She grabbed the parasol laying on the trunk and smacked him across the cheek with it, causing him to take a startled step backward. He stared at her. “You just keep back, Mr. Crazy-Ass Renaissance Fair Reject.”
He blinked, then smiled at her again, pulling up even more power. Instead of relenting or smiling back, she hefted the parasol as though it were a sword and she were preparing to take his head off with a single swing. Had Isis nullified… Okay, that wasn’t good. But he could feel his power. Perhaps the ring made her immune? He turned, focusing his power on the other. Almost immediately, he saw her respond, her cheeks flushing red. “Hey now, Bridget, that really isn’t necessary.”
“Abigail, he’s in our tent. He crept into our tent.”
“Yeah, but I mean…” Abigail gave him an appreciative smile. Then she gave the other one, Bridget, an annoyed look. “Some of us like having a pretty man around.”
“He just called you the N-word.” Bridget gave Abigail an odd look.
The slight flush to Abigail’s cheeks vanished and she started glaring at him again. “Yeah. He did.”
“Methinks thither hath been —”
“I wish you’d stop talking like that.” Bridget made a frustrated growling sound.
Something strange seemed to take hold of him, and he staggered for a moment. They both him a slightly concerned look as he shook his head. “I…” His throat swelled shut for a moment, then he could breath again. “If that is your wish.” He nodded to Bridget.
Bridget exchanged a look with Abigail, then hefted the parasol again. “Okay.” She took a deep breath. “You’ve got thirty seconds to explain what you are doing in my tent, or I am going to beat you to death with this umbrella.”
Khait closed his eyes, tilted his head, gave it a small shake and then opened his eyes before looking back at her. “You two are very strange women.”
“Oh.” Abigail let her arms fall to her sides. “He randomly falls out of the sky stark naked and talks like Thor on crack, but we’re the strange ones.”
“I’m just going to start hitting him with the umbrella now.” Bridget shrugged and adjusted her grip on the weapon.
He responded by immediately falling to his knees and then pressing his forehead to the ground in front of her in a gesture of supplication. “My lady, please, I beg you to listen.’
“Damn it…” Bridget gave him another angry glare, then glanced at Abigail. “I can’t hit him while he’s doing that.”
“You can, it just wouldn’t be fair.” Abigail shrugged.
“Okay, let’s start over.” Bridget looked down at him. “You, sit there, quiet-like, and tell us who you are.”
“Yes.” He shifted backward, then returned to his original sitting position. He inhaled. “I am Khait.”
“We know that part already.” Abigail sat on the edge of her cot. “I’m Abigail, this is Bridget.”
“I…” He hesitated. “May I ask a strange question?”
“Sure, why not?” Bridget set the umbrella down next to her as she sat on her own cot. “Let’s get all the strange right out into the open.”
“What is today’s date?”
“Today’s…” Bridget blinked. “September 17.” When he kept looking at her. “2015.”
“Two…” He stared, his eyes widening.
“2015.” Abigail nodded.
“No.” He stood again, then turned one way, then the other, then sat back down. “No, no…” He closed his eyes. “No.”
Abigail pulled out her cell phone and called up the calendar. She held it up so he could see the date. He just stared at it blankly. “See. September…” She frowned. “Wait, it’s the year that has you freaking out?”
“Why is the year freaking you out?”
“That…” Khait took several deep breaths. “Five hundred years. She stuck me in a pit for five hundred years. That…”
“Hang on.” Abigail made the time-out gesture again. “You’re doing the crazy talking thing again.”
Laughter bubbled out of him, bordering on hysterical. “Isis, you…” He rested his head on his knee for a moment, then lifted it again before staring at Bridget. “Why isn’t it working on you?”
“Why isn’t…” Bridget stared at him.
“I didn’t change.” He took a deep breath. “I should have changed. You’re wearing the ring, I should change to conform to your desires. I am still the same.” He shook his head.
Abigail felt another slight chill. Khait was just some crazy person. He had to be. Yet… Yet there was definitely something odd about him. A presence to him at times. Earlier, when he’d smiled at her, it had taken self control not to start yanking off her shirt and tackling him onto the bed. “Khait, calm down.” When he kept shaking his head, she turned toward Bridget. “Order him to calm down.”
Bridget blinked at her. “Khait, I’m ordering you to calm down.”
He took a deep breath, then nodded. “Yes.” He nodded again. “Of course.”
“Now…” Abigail raised an eyebrow. “What did you mean about conforming to her desires?”
Khait twitched a shoulder. “She wears the ring. I should have targeted her instinctively, altered my appearance to suit her whim, her sensual desires. Yet I remain the same as my last appearance.”
“Okay, that makes no sense at all…” Abigail exhaled. “And I hate to break this to you, but unless you can turn your penis into an innie, you’re not exactly going to suit her sensual desires.”
“If I can…” Khait blinked up at her. “What?”
“You’re a man.” Abigail chuckled. “You’re not her type.”
“I am not her…” Khait tilted his head one way, then the other. Then he turned toward Bridget. “I do not please you?”
“I’m thinking seriously about hitting you with the umbrella again.” Bridget closed her hand over it.
“But…” Khait gave her a confused look. Then he starred. “Your affection is reserved for women?”
“Yeah, crazy boy.” Bridget glared at him. “So, whatever —”
“You…” Khait started laughing again. “You’re…” He banged his head into his knees. “She bound me to a…”
“Right…” Abigail glanced at Bridget. “We’ve been asking who you are. I’m going to change it up.” She pointed at him. “What are you?”
“Answer her question.” Bridget nodded.
“I am…” He inclined his head. “Bound to the curse of the djinn, to serve the bearer of the talisman.” He glanced at Bridget. “Your wish…” He winced a little. “Is my command.”
“Djinn, huh?” Bridget blinked. “Fine. I wish for a couple cold beers.”
“Done.” He nodded.
“What do you…” Abigail glanced at Bridget, and saw something out of the corner of her eye. Wordlessly, she pointed at the two bottles that had appeared on Bridget’s footlocker. “Bridget…”
“Holy shit.” Bridget starred. “Holy shit.” Then her eyes widened. “Holy shit, that was four wishes.” She turned toward Khait. “I thought I only get three.”
“Only get…” He gave her another confused look.
“How many wishes does she get?” Abigail stared.
“I am bound until she releases me.” Khait gave her an annoyed look. “Which is now going to be much, much more trouble.”
“You’re…” Abigail put a hand over her mouth. “Cause she’s…” She laughed, and turned toward Bridget. “Oh, he was going to pull a honey trap on you.”
“What is a…” Khait tilted his head.
Carefully, as though afraid they’d bite her, Bridget reached for the bottles. She offered one to Abigail. Then she looked at Khait. “I’m going to drink this. Then I’m going to ask you more questions.” She opened the bottle and took a drink. “Okay, so, is Abigail right about the you trying to seduce me with some sort of whammy thing?”
“If I am interpreting you correctly…” Khait nodded. “Yes.”
“You asshole.” Bridget glared at him.
“But apparently, I do not please you.” Khait turned back to Abigail. “Do I please you?” He smiled.
Oh, dear god, he smiled. She let out her breath and felt the urge to start fanning herself. “Oh.”
His smile shifted just a little. “I do.”
“Abbey, I’m not sure what…” Bridget stared at her, then pointed at Khait. “Did he just whammy you?”
“Oh yes.” She heard herself panting a little. “That is one hell of a —”
She cut off when Bridget smacked Khait over the head with the parasol.