Whispers of Fire Ch3 bit – Want of a Nail

Aden sagged in his chair, gray and worn. “Then we’ve already lost.”

“No!” Alibaba’s head snapped up, gold eyes bright with determination. “Balbadd’s not lost! We know what they’re after. That means we can stop them.”

Even Beniel looked at him askance. “You think we can stop people ready to take on Sinbad of Sindria.”

“Yes,” Alibaba insisted. “Because they’re not ready to take him on. If they were they’d sail right into Sindria and fight. But they’re not. They think they’re being sneaky.” He shook his head. “And if they were just dealing with Abhmad, they’d be right. But they’re not going to face Balbadd’s nobles anymore. They’re going to face her people. And we’re born to be sneaky.” He grinned at Aden, sudden as sunlight. “Or am I not talking to one of the best smugglers in the islands?”

Aden looked him slowly up and down. Crossed his arms, but didn’t pull farther away. “I’m still not hearing a plan.”

Alibaba thumped his elbows on the table. Stared at the map.

Sindukht weighed the heavy gazes around the table, and rose. “All right, you’ve been fidgeting like a rooster with a sore talon. Let me see your foot, Aden.”

“It’s nothing-”

“Nothing that makes you want to bite our heads off.” She gestured toward his sandals.

“Bahir already looked at it,” the captain grumped, letting her manhandle his foot as he watched Alibaba. “Damn carpenters. With how much nails cost, you’d think they’d keep track of the cursed things….”

Alibaba glanced up, startled.

Aden growled under his breath. “Don’t tell me you’ve never stepped on a nail.”

“I haven’t,” Alibaba said, half to himself. “In the slums, you’d burn the boards to get them back; they were worth it. In the palace – I almost stepped on a gold nail once, from someone’s haircombs….”

Jahan eyed the youngster. Because that sounded frighteningly like an idea.

“Gold nails!” Aden let out a bark of laughter, wriggling his toes against Sindukht’s stubborn grip. “Why not? You’ll find more of those in Balbadd than gold coins, these days. You want to start trade again, young prince? Well, good luck to you! It’s impossible! The Fan is insane, and they won’t let you use anything else-”

“That’s two problems,” Alibaba objected, with an odd precise edge to his posture that told Jahan the boy had to be remembering old court lessons. “And makes it two. The Fan is insane. They won’t let you use anything but the Fan in Balbadd.” He took a deep breath. “But everybody knows what a nail is worth.”


22 thoughts on “Whispers of Fire Ch3 bit – Want of a Nail

  1. >Want of a Nail>
    > “But everybody knows what a nail is worth.”>
    You are a very punny person. *G*

    They might not be allowed to use any currency other than Fan, but something like this would be technically barter. *EG*


  2. So they’re going to turn nails into currency? I think this made my night 🙃 Also, go Alibaba! Paper currency is only worth what people will pay for it, but everyone needs to build things (and eat, but hopefully things aren’t desperate enough in Balbadd that food will replace currency. That is a very, very bad sign)


    1. Sort of like the (double checks) Dragonlance universe.

      Normally in a fantasy setting you go Gold>Silver>Copper for coins.

      There most often steel and iron were the most valuable coins. Some of the nations don’t even use gold for currency.


      1. >Sinbad’s reaction when he finds out about this should be interesting….>
        Depending on what the nails are made of at the very least I can see him accepting them based on metal weight. Of course that is just it they’re gold as you can really use gold nails for construction.

        Good iron/steel/bronze nails would be worth more because you can turn around and use the things in other projects.

        Fun thing, was doing a wiki search on their construction and ran across this little bit:
        The term “penny”, as it refers to nails, probably originated in medieval England to describe the price of a hundred nails. Nails themselves were sufficiently valuable and standardized to be used as an informal medium of exchange.

        Though considering the sheer amount of research that always goes into your stories Vathara, you already knew this.


  3. Come on people, listen to Alibaba and follow your roots. Smugglers and pirates reaction to obstacle is not go through it – they usually don’t have the power and resources for that – but go around the obstacle. Or under it. Or over it.

    And I think Alibaba is right they aren’t ready to take on Sindria. Because Kouen is straight forward enough that if he though he could steam-roller Sindria and Sinbad he would give it a go.

    Now it might be other reasons (see Al-Thamen and their desire to make everyone in the world hateful and miserable so it fuels their destroying of the world) for doing the sneak routine in Balbadd – they got them to effectively sign away their own country bit by bit – well, they got their idiot king to do it – but still it is curious.

    I’m not saying that Kouen is not capable of sneak and subterfuge, he just strikes as one for whom that isn’t the default setting . . .

    Maybe trying to avoid outright fighting for one reason or another? Lacks the manpower to physically conquer a nation like Balbadd? Or is simply aware of Balbadd’s habit of not taking prisoners of war (to use your headcanon) . . .

    Hmm . . . wonder what would happen if someone start spreading Alibaba’s bad behavior to other conquered territories in the Empire . . .

    I don’t care what canon says about it – I don’t think keeping the Empire intact is a good idea. And I cannot understand why in the name of everything holy Alibaba is helping the people who have done naught but cause him trouble and pain. I get you are a nice guy but let’s remember that dude took your hard-won victory and make it and the death of your brother of the heart worthless and had you stayed there would have made you a puppet to control your people just like your half-brother was their puppet.


    1. I honestly think Alibaba was helping Kougyoku, not the Empire… and he was doing so because he knows Sinbad’s mixed up with David, and the Kou Empire is his best chance at getting a counterweight to stop whatever mess that’s going to cause.

      I still don’t like it, though….


      1. Me neither.

        Then again I think we all know what I think about that whole David and Sinbad mess . . .

        And how thoroughly sick I am of this only evil people are allowed to be super powerful, no big goods allowed but the bad guys can have all the overpowered big bads they want.

        Also can’t help but think that effectively trying to do same thing with the Kou Empire against Sindria and Sinbad like how Sinbad was trying to use Balbadd . . . isn’t going to go smoothly.

        And I realize that Kougyoku can stuck dealing an enormous mess because all of her brothers who made this mess had FRO to various and sundry plots but still . . . >.< *snarl curse*

        And if anyone wants some levity, I have some bunny speculation: https://shiorimakibawrites.wordpress.com/2016/07/21/the-halloween-scenario/


  4. Now why do I get the feeling that someone is going to go figure out how much metal is in a nail vs how much metal is in Rashid’s reign-coins… And the metal workers are going to be getting some very interesting orders in the next few weeks I bet. So are any industries that make use of nails as there’s no way Alibaba isn’t going to come up with a cover story for it.


  5. Oh, you are a /genious/. This is one of the reasons I love reading your stories – you really think about how things would /work/. *cackles*


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