Whispers of Fire Ch4 bit – Cassim

Balbadd didn’t look any better the second time. Still the same few bedraggled fishing ships out in the harbor, one or two captains like Aden who’d decided to try their luck bringing in cargoes, Fan or no Fan-

And one ship Alibaba had never seen before, wood stained red-orange as lacquer, rails dark as ebony, and sails cut to a square that would founder in the wilder seas near Sindria.

Don’t think I have to guess where that one’s from.

Cassim slipped out of an alley like a shadow, fox eyes burning as he stared at the foreign sailors manning the rails. “Imperial merchant ship. Bringing in plenty of goods – if you’re a noble.”

“Is that what that ugly junk is.” Alibaba tapped one of the casks he’d offloaded, taking a whiff of the sweet raspberry scent. “So the court still has trade coming in while the rest of the city starves. That’s twisted.” He met that familiar gaze, hurting at the hate and pain lurking there. He’d just bet Cassim’s gang would try to torch that ship later tonight. Probably after robbing it down to the waterline. And damn it, he couldn’t blame them.

It’s wrong. But they’re hurting. They need anything they can get – legal or not.

If he could just give them a more legal option….“I brought some fruit off the islands,” Alibaba stated. “It doesn’t travel well, and it won’t last long. But it was cheap, and I figured if anyone knew where I could trade it fast for information….”

“Trade.” Yellow eyes narrowed.

“Trade,” Alibaba said firmly. Never mind how his gut twisted, or how much he wanted to say. He had to be strong, the way Cassim was. His brother would never listen if he wasn’t. “I know you’d rather steal than beg. I’m not offering either. You have information; I need it. I’ve got contacts with people willing to slip in here no matter what the laws say, and you need that.” He lowered his voice. “I don’t know if I can fix this, Cassim. But I’ve got an idea. And I know I can’t do it alone.”

“An idea.” Cassim was weighing him with a look, as if the gang-leader were utterly oblivious to Zainab’s dark scowl as she tapped fingers near her hidden knife.

“Kind of like when those thug bastards tried to move in on our alleys,” Alibaba nodded. “If it’s going to work, it’s got to be sneaky, nimble, and hit them from both sides.”

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10 thoughts on “Whispers of Fire Ch4 bit – Cassim

  1. Hmmm . . . besides keeping busy, it probably helps for Alibaba to keep engaging Cassim’s brain. Because he keeps letting his anger rule him and doing stuff that only helps very short-term for his small group (granted he probably primarily only cares about that little group but that’s not Cassim that just human) and long-term is going cause them major problems (why do I get the feeling that torched ships with missing cargo was used in ‘negotiations’ where even more of Balbadd’s sovereignty was traded as “compensation” for the loss) – not least of which is even further clamp downs on the poor people of Balbadd.

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    1. *Nod* Alibaba’s trying to get Cassim to think, not react. Of course, it helps that he keeps bringing food. No one thinks well hungry!

      Having a plan that will make sure more trade moves through the docks will help. Though Cassim may not forgive him for the account books….

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      1. Which I maintain he thoroughly deserves – you helped make this mess, you will help clean it. Not to mention the numerous instances of raining on parade he probably dished out to Alibaba. I know, he’s your brother but I have brothers and can testify that sometimes they are massive pains in the behind who you love but don’t like very much.

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      2. >Cassim’s still touch and go in the bits I’m writing, but hopefully he’s a little saner!>
        Considering how messed up he was at the end of the Balbadd arc, anything will be an improvement.

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  2. Oh crap, is Cassim turning into an unholy mix of Ja’far and early Drakon?! He should know this is a bad place to be for that!

    In all seriousness, Alibaba is consistently approaching Cassim as a respectful equal. And *never* offering a ‘charity’ deal. Honestly, Balbad through the lens of Cassim and Alibaba? Kinda reminds me of Dragon’s Wings in Embers. A mix of everything.

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    1. Balbadd as a place where anybody might show up is pretty canon, at least from what we see in the manga scenes. 🙂

      And yes. Given Cassim didn’t manage to trap him into “figurehead” this time, I figured it’d be much more likely Alibaba could approach him as “respected leader of another faction”. And that, hopefully, is part of what Cassim needs to start getting over that darn poisonous self-hate.

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  3. >And that, hopefully, is part of what Cassim needs to start getting over that darn poisonous self-hate.>
    Another part of that self-hate was probably Cassim’s knowledge that he couldn’t really help the people of the slums despite everything he did. He could steal and steal and steal from the nobles all day and night long but couldn’t get enough to ensure the people of the slums could do more than survive. And he knew that it would never get better.

    Here however, there is a light at the end of this long dark tunnel he has been in (which fortunatly isn’t attached to an oncoming train).

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