Worst. Night. Ever, Alibaba thought blearily, rousing with the rest of the caravan in the chill dark before dawn. People were shivering now; they’d be baking soon enough. Feels like all the dungeon monsters decided to run through my head.
Which meant it actually wasn’t the worst night ever, because he’d rather face Amon’s dungeon a dozen times than that one horrible evening in Balbadd-
Time to get moving, Alibaba told himself firmly. With the rest of the caravan. Who I’ve got to convince not to kill me. Without letting on that maybe there’s a reason they really should look at me cross-eyed. Which is going to be hard to do if Amon is sucking up the heat before it hits me, people notice a cool breeze in the middle of the desert-
Waaaait a minute.
It was preposterous. It was crazy. It’d make the rest of the caravan think he was crazy.
On the other hand, it was the kind of crazy everybody would be glad to have working for them. Especially the lady’s harassed son and her fuming daughter-in-law, who’d had to put up with being criticized for everything from how she spiced the stew to how she folded a veil.
Picking up his bedroll, Alibaba headed for the most cantankerous old lady in the caravan. “Good morning, Grandmother.”
“Hmph!” A stick jabbed roughly his way. “And what’s good about it?”
“I was listening to your tales of this route yesterday.” Alibaba gave her a respectful bow. “It’s been years since I traveled this way; I’d be honored if you’d tell me more.”
Repacking part of his wagon yet again, the old lady’s son stared. Serving overnight bread and some corned meat to her small brood, his wife blinked, looked at him askance, and shook her head.
Yep. They think I’m crazy.
With his best merchant manners, Alibaba swept her another bow. “A trade, Grandmother? Your tales, for a bit of help on the road?”
“Well!” Gray hair seemed to bristle under her hood, as she straightened an old back. “At least some youngsters know what they don’t know.”
Alibaba held out an arm for her to grab, and grinned.