Maybe there’d been more than one reason Rashid had never asked for his ally’s help in finding Alibaba. However the boy had grown up before Rashid had taken him in, the mere fact that he’d survived it meant he probably had more brains than the pair of his elder brothers put together.
The fact that he disappeared should be proof, Sinbad thought wryly. No one sane would walk back into this palace to stay. Not without chasing the courtiers out with a whip, first.
Ah. Abhmad was finally winding down from the flowery deflections of actual fact. Sinbad kept his face intent, as if he’d been listening all along.
“-I cannot restore trade with Sindria while Balbadd is torn with internal strife!”
He was not going to laugh in Abhmad’s face. “I’d think that would be the best reason to restore trade. People busy making money aren’t causing trouble.”
Well, that wasn’t always true, as Rashid would undoubtedly attest if he were here. But the principle did hold for most people who weren’t afflicted with either crowns, Djinn, or an unquenchable thirst to change the world.
Of course, if you had all three, you were pretty much doomed to be trouble. Or so his Generals had told him. Many times.
“Huh! Making money,” Abhmad sniffed, nose in the air. “I’m talking about thieves and smugglers, breaking the law!”
Somewhere in the rukh, Sinbad was sure Rashid was suppressing an urge to strangle his oldest son. Had the youngster paid no attention to his history lessons? Balbadd had been founded by the biggest smuggler of them all. There were reasons they called the great Silver River of stars the Straw Thief’s Way. What most nations considered theft, a desperate Balbadd native would call aggressive asset relocation.
“Thieves and smugglers,” Sinbad said neutrally. “There must be quite a lot of them, to thwart Balbadd’s loyal guards.”
“Not so many at first,” Abhmad said darkly. “The Fog Troupe used to be about forty pickpockets from the slums, led by a murdering scum called Cassim. They stole the treasury three years ago, leading to the death of our beloved father… now they’re terrorists, dealing with the smugglers! This Merhdad-” Abhmad’s teeth ground, “-we can’t even find out his real name! No one from Partevia will admit who he might be.”
He might not even be from Partevia, Sinbad thought wryly. Harun wasn’t a Balbadd name, either. But if Abhmad hadn’t even thought of that- ah well. It looked like they were going to have a lot of investigating to do down by the docks. Especially in the taverns. Especially those with ladies smiling for honest and not-so-honest sailors….
Er. He could feel Ja’far’s glare boring into the back of his head. And he hadn’t even done anything!