Whispers of Fire Ch5 bit – Charts

Alibaba saw the room go silent, even Cassim yanking back his fury to eye the door. He didn’t know all the sounds in Cassim’s warren, but something must not be right.

A few heartbeats, and someone tentatively knocked at the doorway.

“Enough with the uptown manners,” one of Cassim’s men grumbled. “Boss! Guy from Shahidi here to see you.”


The white-faced dock guard looked all too aware that he was a minnow swimming with a school of barracudas. None of whom were interested in eating him. Yet.

Alibaba cast a curious look at Cassim. Since when did Shahidi even admit the Fog Troupe existed?

Cassim gave him a considering frown back. New one on me. “You’re here. Speak your piece.”

“Dock-Master Shahidi’s compliments, um… sir….” Another almost-hidden gulp. “I was told to bring word to Boss Cassim, and Merhdad if possible?”

“We’re listening,” Alibaba stated, glad his hair was hidden under a soft Partevian mosaic-knit cap. Jahan had insisted; if they wanted to keep the government chasing rumors of Merhdad the Partevian, he had to at least look like he’d visited that kingdom long enough to pick up some clothes. “What is it?”

The guard nodded to him, and took a deep breath; steadier, this time, with the kind of anger Alibaba was all too familiar with; I know this is wrong, but there’s only so much I can do. “Some of the pirates decided to talk, in hopes of leniency. They had-” The guard shook his head, as if he couldn’t believe his own words. “They claimed they were official. That they had every right to be chasing smugglers in our waters. That… they were given sounding charts.”

The room went very still.

“You. Stay there.” Cassim turned on the logbook as if he’d like to shred it with a fine razor. “You said you went through the ship for documents….”

“I did,” Alibaba stated, pouncing on leather and flipping through pages. “I was reading the recent entries, figured that’s where they would have sold our people, didn’t have time to go through everything-”

Two-thirds back through the pages, a thin sheet of onionskin paper slithered free.

Cassim hissed. “Is that-?”

“Lord Nalci’s seal,” Alibaba said, almost numb as he picked up the finely-lettered chart. Technically, it was the Sea-General’s seal; or for outsiders, the Lord of the Seas at War. Foreign courts were impressed by that sort of name. Even if it was just a fancy title for the luckless noble guy stuck managing Balbadd’s few naval ships, when they had some; hiring privateers, when they had those, which fortunately didn’t happen very often; and who usually ended up spending most of his time with maps, a sextant, and a stiff drink, as he tried to keep some kind of eye on where Balbadd ships were in the world.

53 thoughts on “Whispers of Fire Ch5 bit – Charts

  1. > That… they were given sounding charts.”>
    >“Lord Nalci’s seal,” >
    Yikes. This is going to get three different kinds of ugly.
    Cassim and Alibaba just got proof that slavers are working hand in hand with the nobility. I think Lord Nalci is about to get an unexpected ‘invitation’ that he will not be able to refuse.

    On the upside it would appear that Dock-Master Shahidi (or some of his subordinates) have some morals regarding the situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. >And here’s where Alibaba’s persuasive skills will really be put to the test….>
      First to convince Cassim not to kill Nalci as soon as he gets his hand on the moron.

      Secondly that Nalci should really start talking and convince them that the information he’s giving is true or Cassim will start getting creative. You wouldn’t like Cassim when he starts getting creative.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. And now you can see why Ja’far will be headdesking. Why can’t this just be a simple assignment where he can kill everybody….

        Because things love to resist simplicity?

        The universe is a kill-joy?

        But I agree, the world was probably a lot simpler when your solution to everything was “Let’s go kill them.”

        Don’t fret too much Ja’far, I’m sure you will find idiots who fully deserve to have their throats cut soon. Because it seems there is never a shortage of those . . .


      2. Now, now, Ja’far. You’re the beloved General of a king/Singularity who is beloved by the Rukh. (Though //nowhere// near as beloved as a Magi.) If the mission were simple, you’d get board, which would make Sinbad sad. The Rukh can’t have that, now can it?

        (Also: Self preservation. If Ja’far’s board, Sinbad’s going to be board, and a board Sinbad is “oh Solomon man the bunkers!” category bad to be avoided //at all costs//.)

        Also, question: Are sounding charts anything like Letters of Marque? Or is it just a map marking the rough estimated position/route of known ships at sea?


      3. Bored Sinbad is not good, no.

        Sounding charts are charts of the depth of the ocean floor in an area. I.e., here you can sail through, here the shoals are going to rip the bottom out of your boat and wreck you. As in, this is something you want the bad guys not to have!


  2. Oh, someone is going to get lynched. And I do mean *actually lynched.* And the dock masters might just *help.* Slavery is ugly, anyone who says other wise is on the other end of the slave chain and lying. Slavery against *your own people?* Al-Thamen must have done some several obscene things in glee over this. This kind of breach in trust, it leads to civil wars and the French Revolution. With all the gore that implies.

    And this skips right past any ‘pause’ buttons on several people in the room. Notably Alibaba and Amon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alibaba, fortunately, is still thinking. Poor guy. It’s not that he’s not mad – it’s that he wants to be sure they get exactly who’s responsible.

      And Cassim’s not the only guy he needs to talk out of a lynching….


    2. >And Cassim’s not the only guy he needs to talk out of a lynching….>
      Probably be easier to list the people he won’t need to talk out of a lynching.


    3. I’m thinking the dock master might help, indeed. Why would he bring this to Cassim and Merdahd’s attention, otherwise? It doesn’t benefit the administration the dock master is a part of, to have this dirty laundry waved about, but if he’s coming around to the Fog Troop’s way of thinking…


      1. Shahidi may be lazy and arrogant, but he’s not stupid. This was a line that should not be crossed. He just doesn’t know what he can do about it yet.

        Lucky for him, Alibaba’s pretty good at finding something people can do, even when everything seems hopeless.


  3. Oh My God! Those evil F***ing assholes! They are officially endorsing pirates to enslave their own people! I have to admire Al-Thamen for how much they make people screw themselves over, like corrupting the nobles and arming the powerless peasants making them lash out. Of Course I eagerly await the day they get their comeuppance cause you known the saying “What goes around…”.


    1. I forget where I heard it but: “Sometimes you get what’s coming around….and sometimes you *are* what’s coming around.” In this case, Alibaba. Probably backed (cheered on) by Sinbad once he gets caught up to speed.

      And has anyone thought about what *Morgiana* is going to do to those responsible? Eek.


      1. >…Oh dear. Harry and Alibaba. Pyromaniacs unite! >
        Now where was that bit from the comedy fic…..Ah Ha! ‘When Wizards meet’

        Harry was keeping one back with combination of force-blasts and judicious use of his shield. He was being sparing with the fire magic, since he was in an old building with people still inside it. Besides, he’d just recently found out that the Sidhe, all three vampire Courts and the younger Wardens were all using his last name as a verb.

        Apparently, ‘to Dresden’ meant ‘to burn down a building all by yourself without apparently meaning to’. There was also ‘to Dresden up’, meaning ‘to burn down a building all by yourself with disastrous political results’. When four ‘nations’ and your own allies are making jokes about you, maybe it’s time for a little change.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hmm. I wonder if Abhmad has started to consider selling off his own people as slaves, or whether Al Thamen are jumping the gun since it’s become clear the country is resisting. Or maybe whoever is responsible for this gave them the idea. *shudder*


      1. …Abhmad is acting like Nega-Scrooge McDuck and swimming around in a tower full of money, isn’t he?

        I say Nega-Scrooge McDuck, because for all he was a cheapskate, Scrooge McDuck actually //gave a damn//.


  5. Wow, heads are gonna roll.
    Bunnies: y’know, this reminds us of a song…
    Me: No.
    Bunnies: (in Cassim’s kid-voice) Do you want to build a guillotine?
    Me: Stop. Please.
    Cassim bunny: C’mon let’s go and play! So many villains out the door, that exploit the poor, we’ve gotta slice away!
    Me: absolutely not. (Hides from the frothing, giggling flock)


    1. Okay, but this was basically all I could think of after a certain earlier line. “Do you wanna steal a country? …It kinda has to be a county.”


  6. Alibaba is right to make sure they get the people actually responsible for this. Because if you just get their staking horse, they will just appoint another noble to continue what they are doing in the first place.

    Boy, Al-Thamen is good at getting people to cut their nose to spite their face, aren’t they?

    And even without their influence, if it was just plain Kou, I can’t help but think this is the stuff that happens when you listen to people who haven’t nearly enough peasant revolts where the offending government officials’ heads ended up pikes . . . granted, Kou’s Imperial family is probably not too worried about that with their Djinn . . . but the maximum they could have had any of them is ten years so they had to have other ways to prevent that thing of thing . . . ways that historically speaking are extremely unpleasant . . . either Al-Thamen has been poking around there even longer than we thought or how they slipped into their society so easily is that some of their nastiness seemed perfectly normal to the people of Kou . . . or at least its upper class.

    If this goes high enough , , , Alibaba might not stop at breaking his idiot brother’s nose. Which along with singed eyebrows, he already deserves just for the other stuff.

    Also I don’t think he could prevent his death. Because like I said before, every culture has things that just not done, lines that you simply cannot cross. Whoever authorized that crossed those lines. (And no, heeding the Bankers’ horrible advice and such would not excuse this. Nothing excuses this.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Very likely but ignorance is not an excuse. And one that I doubt very few of his people will accept.

        Because it’s his job to be aware of those kind of possibilities and to think things through, to know what he is agreeing to, to protect his people from this very situation to the best of his ability.

        And he’s not giving it his best. He’s not even putting forth a good effort to understand what is happening. Because he doesn’t care. He thinks being a ruler is all about the privileges. He doesn’t think about or care that it comes with responsibilities.

        Rashid, are you sure this your kid?

        I don’t demand that kids be exactly like their parents but usually they share characteristics, have traits in common . . .


      2. Ah, but you’re only thinking of half the equation. What do we know about Abmahd and Sabmahd’s mother? And on that note: wasn’t it noted that Balbadd royalty was known for…straying? On Rashid’s end it resulted in Alibaba. What’s to say his legal wife was any more faithful? Especially considering Rashid leaving for long periods to ‘play merchant’.

        Such would color the brother’s interactions with Alibaba in a…slightly different light, no?


      3. >Ouch! Seems all too plausible. Nasty thought.>
        Particularly when you look at the features of the three.

        Alibaba has that cowlick and Rashid does appear to have gold/yellow eyes.

        Sahbmad is tall, lean and has a sort of elongated face/jaw that is similar to Rashid if with different coloring.

        Ahbmad on the other hand, I can’t see any resemblance at all. Though he was the first-born son of the queen so I don’t know.


      4. Rashid’s eyes differ depending on Magi vs. Adventures of Sinbad. In AoS, they’re actually violet. Anis, however, has gold eyes everywhere.

        And we have no idea what Rashid’s wife looked like – she doesn’t turn up at all when Aladdin summons the rukh.

        …Which, y’know, given the setting, is kind of ominous….


  7. Wow, Alibaba’s older brother is an idiot. “Oh look, I bought you a barrel, Al-Thamen. Let me just stretch myself over it for you! Would you like me to stetch backwards? I can do that!*

    I’m really liking the expanded backstory. It fills in the anime’s broad brush strokes, and makes me hate Al-Thamen EVEN MORE. Excellent job 🙂


  8. ok.. I’ve sourced a good place for pitchforks,who has the tar and sticks*? Some merchants have all the luck.. *BUY ALAD’S DISCOUNT MOB SUPPLIES!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, hell. The whole situation started as a SNAFU and has now merrily skipped past CF and straight into FUBAR territory. Somebody is going to end up defenestrated for this.

    (I love the fact that the English tongue has a big fancy word for ‘the act of chucking a dude out of a window’, don’t you?)


    1. >Oh, hell. The whole situation started as a SNAFU and has now merrily skipped past CF and straight into FUBAR territory.>
      Remember that Vathera mentioned something very bad would happen to someone as part of Balbadd justice in chapter 6 that would scare/disturb Aladdin.

      We (or at least I) thought that would be referring only to the slavers Alibaba brought in. Though it’s possible a certain noble might be joining them after spilling his guts to the Cassim/Alibaba tag-team.


    2. And I still maintain the proper verb is “to space” and not “to airlock”. Because, y’know, human nature being what it is, eventually someone’s going to do that, and we ought to at least know what to call it first….


      1. Has anyone ever called it “to airlock”? I’m pretty sure that in all the books I’ve read, it is “to space”…. 😉


      2. “What happened to ?”
        “He got fired.”
        “…Out of *what*?”

        And yeah, ‘space him’ rolls off the tongue better than ‘airlock him’. Suppose you could be fancy and call it ‘jettisoning’, too, but..


  10. …Which, y’know, given the setting, is kind of ominous….

    But would explain a lot . . . and it’s not as if Al-Thamen is adverse to producing royal children or taking the place of the mother of royal children and then screwing them up completely . . .


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