“We have a name now, you know,” Cassim said casually, holding up dark steel. “We’re not just my gang anymore. We’re the Fog Troupe. And this… is the Black Bonds Fogblade.” Dark brows flicked up, interested. “So what’s the name of yours?”
Alibaba didn’t touch his knife. “I ended up with it by accident.”
Cassim snorted. “You killed an island whale by accident?”
“I was already in the water,” Alibaba admitted. “I didn’t have anything else left to try. So… yes. I did.”
That sparked a laugh, even if it had a wry edge. “Only you,” Cassim shook his head. “You know, with that map and everything, I was starting to think I didn’t know you anymore.”
Alibaba smiled, relieved. “You still know me. It’s not that different from the barter on the streets. I’ve just read a lot, and bounced around a few places.” One of which had been a dungeon. But the less said about that, the better. People thought Dungeon Capturers were supposed to be kings. And he wasn’t.
“A Magic Tool that summons fire,” Cassim mused. “That must have been some accident.”
Alibaba shrugged, trying not to show another sudden wave of relief. Cassim never saw me with this knife. He doesn’t know it was just steel a month ago. “I fell into a big mess of monsters and got lucky. When the dust cleared, I ended up with a little silver, and- this.” He just barely touched the hilt. Cassim was way too calm.
He’s getting ready for something.
“So….” Cassim turned side-on to him, a smile playing with white teeth. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a good fight, brother. Want to try fog versus fire?”
So he is after that. Alibaba shook his head. “How many people do you have betting on this?”
“No one.” Cassim’s eyelids lowered, shoulders stiff with hurt. “It’s just us.”
Alibaba swallowed. “This isn’t like a junk-heap brawl, Cassim. This is fire. If one of us screws up, you’re going to get burned.”
“Now, see, that’s what makes me wonder if I know you.” Cassim gave him a cool, level look. “You know the streets, Alibaba. A man has to stay sharp.”
“You mean you want a duel before you’ll let me leave,” Alibaba said quietly. “Cassim. Nobody’s here. None of us has to prove anything.”
“Yes you do.” Yellow eyes gleamed. “You’re asking me to risk my Troupe on your best guess. You owe me.”